Friday, March 30, 2012

Interzone 236 - Andy Cox

Very solid issue at 3.40 with no real weak spots. Also an interview with Lavie Tidhar along with the usual passel of reviews of stuff of interest.

Interzone 236 : A Time For Raven - Stephen Kotowych
Interzone 236 : The Ever-Dreaming Verdict Of Plagues - Jason Sanford
Interzone 236 : The Metaphor - Fiona Moore
Interzone 236 : The Fall Of The City Of Silver - Jon Ingold
Interzone 236 : Tethered - Mercurio D. Rivera

Kayak tree.

3 out of 5

Blood AI murder.

3.5 out of 5

Immersion labour problem.

3.5 out of 5

Bad Phoenicians underground goddess.

3.5 out of 5

Later, merging.

3.5 out of 5



4 out of 5

Tethered - Mercurio D. Rivera

Later, merging.


3.5 out of 5

The Fall of the City of Silver - Jon Ingold

Bad Phoenicians underground goddess.


3.5 out of 5

The Metaphor - Fiona Moore

Immersion labour problem.


3.5 out of 5

The Ever-dreaming Verdict Of Plagues - Jason Sanford

Blood AI murder.


3.5 out of 5

A Time For Raven - Steven Kotowych

Kayak tree.


3 out of 5

Asimov's 434 - Sheila Williams

A fine issue here at 3.50 with several interesting stories. The first is the standout. Martial arts adventure with clawed metal people living near a pulsar. To finish, an Imeten outing from Tom Purdom.

Asimov's 434 : The Way Of The Needle - Derek Kunsken
Asimov's 434 : Nanny's Day - Leah Cypess
Asimov's 434 : Mrs. Hatcher's Evaluation - James Van Pelt
Asimov's 434 : The Pass - Benjamin Crowell
Asimov's 434 : Patagonia - Joel Richards
Asimov's 434 : Golva's Ascent - Tom Purdom

Pulsar metal pincer assassin.

4 out of 5

Bioist custody case.

3.5 out of 5

History lesson.

3 out of 5

No upload breakdown Cloud.

3.5 out of 5

Travel memories.

3.5 out of 5

Found some smart group hunters on Imeten.

3.5 out of 5



4 out of 5

Golva's Ascent - Tom Purdom

Found some smart group hunters on Imeten.


3.5 out of 5

Patagonia - Joel Richards

Travel memories.


3.5 out of 5

The Pass - Benjamin Crowell

No upload breakdown Cloud.


3.5 out of 5

Mrs. Hatcher's Evaluation - James Van Pelt

History lesson.


3 out of 5

Nanny's Day - Leah Cypess

Bioist custody case.


3.5 out of 5

The Way of the Needle - Derek Kunsken

Pulsar metal pincer assassin.


4 out of 5

Asimov's 433 - Sheila Williams

Just a 3.17 here. With the best the first two stories.

Asimov's 433 : HIVE MIND MAN - Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn
Asimov's 433 : THE VOODOO PROJECT - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Asimov's 433 : OBSERVATIONS ON A CLOCK - D. Thomas Minton
Asimov's 433 : THE PEOPLE OF PELE - Ken Liu
Asimov's 433 : GOING HOME - Bruce McAllister and Barry Malzberg
Asimov's 433 : MURDER BORN - Robert Reed

Squid shirt freakout, Jeff and Diane.

3.5 out of 5

Sight mission.

3.5 out of 5

Chevalier Order.

3 out of 5

Strategic colonisation crystals.

3.5 out of 5

Old story.

2.5 out of 5

Capital killer plan.

3 out of 5



3 out of 5

Murder Born - Robert Reed

Capital killer plan.


3 out of 5

Going Home - Barry N. Malzberg and Bruce McAllister

Old story.


2.5 out of 5

The People of Pele - Ken Liu

Strategic colonisation crystals.


3.5 out of 5

Observations On A Clock - Thomas D. Minton

Chevalier Order.


3 out of 5

The Voodoo Project - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Sight mission.


3.5 out of 5

Hive Mind Man - Rudy Rucker and Eileen Gunn

Squid shirt freakout, Jeff and Diane.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 432 - Sheila Williams

A combo of good and average at 3.29 with the former just beating out the latter.

Asimov's 432 : Bruce Springsteen - Paul Mcauley
Asimov's 432 : Recyclable Material - Katherine Marzinsky
Asimov's 432 : Maiden Voyage - Jack Mcdevitt
Asimov's 432 : The War Is Over And Everyone Wins - Zachary Jernigan
Asimov's 432 : The Burst - C.W. Johnson
Asimov's 432 : Friendlessness - Eric Del Carlo
Asimov's 432 : In The House Of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal Burns - Elizabeth Bear

Jackaroo eidolon.

3 out of 5

One infant, useful parts.

3 out of 5

Priscilla Hutchins Copperhead space road.

3.5 out of 5

Virus myth killer.

3.5 out of 5

Many worlds energy.

3.5 out of 5

No socialweb score.

3 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

In The House Of Aryaman A Lonely Signal Burns - Elizabeth Bear

Dexter Coffin murder galaxy message.


3.5 out of 5

Friendlessness - Eric Del Carlo

No socialweb score.


3 out of 5

The Burst - C. W. Johnson

Many worlds energy.


3.5 out of 5

The War Is Over And Everyone Wins - Zachary Jernigan

Virus myth killer.


3.5 out of 5

Maiden Voyage - Jack McDevitt

Priscilla Hutchins Copperhead space road.


3.5 out of 5

Recyclable Material - Katherine Marzinsky

One infant, useful parts.


3 out of 5

Bruce Springsteen - Paul J. McAuley

Jackaroo eidolon.


3 out of 5

Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 - Gordon Van Gelder

Nothing of interest here at a paltry 2.86.

Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Gordon Van Gelder
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Small Towns - Felicity Shoulders
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : The Secret of the City of Gold - Ron Goulart
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Umbrella Men - John G. McDaid
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Alien Land - K. D. Wentworth
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Mindbender - Albert E. Cowdrey
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : The Color Least Used by Nature - Ted Kosmatka
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : The Comfort of Strangers - Alexander Jablokov
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Maxwell's Demon - Ken Liu
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Scrap Dragon - Naomi Kritzer
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : In the Trenches - Michael Alexander
Fantasy and Science Fiction 699 : Canto MCML - Lewis Shiner

Lack of Perrot.

3 out of 5

Were-jaguar problem.

3 out of 5

Conspiracy, even.

3 out of 5

Move in house.

3 out of 5

Chasing Mandrake.

3 out of 5

Island boat.

3 out of 5

Interstellar trade bits.

3.5 out of 5

Look dead body.

2.5 out of 5

No more.

2 out of 5

War, with kobold.

2.5 out of 5

Paid a lot for here.

3 out of 5



2 out of 5

Canto MCML - Lewis Shiner

Paid a lot for here.


3 out of 5

In the Trenches - Michael Alexander

War, with kobold.


2.5 out of 5

Scrap Dragon - Naomi Kritzer

No more.


2 out of 5

Maxwell's Demon - Ken Liu

Look dead body.


2.5 out of 5

The Comfort Of Strangers - Alexander Jablokov

Interstellar trade bits.


3.5 out of 5

The Color Least Used By Nature - Ted Kosmatka

Island boat.


3 out of 5

Mindbender - Albert E. Cowdrey

Chasing Mandrake.


3 out of 5

Alien Land - K. D. Wentworth

Move in house.


3 out of 5

Umbrella Men - John G. McDaid

Conspiracy, even.


3 out of 5

The Secret Of The City Of Gold - Ron Goulart

Were-jaguar problem.


3 out of 5

Small Towns - Felicity Shoulders

Lack of Perrot.


3 out of 5

Analog 968 - Stanley Schmidt

One good story by DeLancey, the rest are very average. The serial Trigger is by far the worst serial I've ever seen in Analog.

Analog 968 : Analog 968 - Stanley Schmidt
Analog 968 : The Most Invasive Species - Susan Forest
Analog 968 : A Delicate Balance - Kevin J. Anderson
Analog 968 : Ecce Signum - Craig Delancey
Analog 968 : To Serve Aliens Yes It's A Cookbook - Eric James Stone
Analog 968 : You Say You Want A Revolution - Jerry Oltion
Analog 968 : Follow-Up - Stephen L. Burns
Analog 968 : Triggers 3 - Robert J. Sawyer

Lethal Xeno Intolerance.

3 out of 5

Colony kill Orrick.

3 out of 5

Neo-dog assassin smell.

3.5 out of 5

Berundi bits.

2.5 out of 5

Having kids makes us smarter. Also less hungry.

3 out of 5

Dr Autopilot machine.

3 out of 5

Bad memories.

2 out of 5



2 out of 5

Triggers 3 - Robert J. Sawyer

Bad memories.


2 out of 5

Follow-Up - Stephen L. Burns

Dr Autopilot machine.


3 out of 5

You Say You Want A Revolution - Jerry Oltion

Having kids makes us smarter. Also less hungry.


3 out of 5

To Serve Aliens Yes It's A Cookbook - Eric James Stone

Berundi bits.


2.5 out of 5

Ecce Signum - Craig DeLancey

Neo-dog assassin smell.


3.5 out of 5

A Delicate Balance - Kevin J. Anderson

Colony kill Orrick.


3 out of 5

The Most Invasive Species - Susan Forest

Lethal Xeno Intolerance.


3 out of 5

Analog 967 - Stanley Schmidt

This was ok until the serial, which is like dullsville, Scoob. Articles on lotta radiation event and tachyon-y neutrinos.

Analog 967 : Analog 967 - Stanley Schmidt
Analog 967 : THE EDIACARIAN MACHINE - Craig DeLancey
Analog 967 : MOTHER'S TATTOOS - Richard A. Lovett
Analog 967 : ERNESTO - Alec Nevala-Lee
Analog 967 : UPON THEIR BACKS - Kyle Kirkland
Analog 967 : TRIGGERS: PART II OF IV - Robert J. Sawyer

Probed for old alien communication.

3 out of 5

Advertising surface spam.

3.5 out of 5

Infection cancer monk.

3 out of 5

Hibernation cognitive energy invasion agent.

3.5 out of 5

Linkage effect.

2.5 out of 5



3 out of 5

Triggers 2 - Robert J. Sawyer

Linkage effect.


2.5 out of 5

Upon Their Backs - Kyle Kirkland

Hibernation cognitive energy invasion agent.


3.5 out of 5

Ernesto - Alec Nevala-Lee

Infection cancer monk.


3 out of 5

Mother's Tattoos - Richard A. Lovett

Advertising surface spam.


3.5 out of 5

The Ediacarian Machine - Craig DeLancey

Probed for old alien communication.


3 out of 5

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Library of Forgotten Books - Rjurik Davidson

A good fantasy collection, the majority of which feature a fantasy city as a common setting. Two of these are strong stories.

Library of Forgotten Books : The Cinema of Coming Attractions - Rjurik Davidson
Library of Forgotten Books : Int Morgue Night - Rjurik Davidson
Library of Forgotten Books : Lovers in Caeli-Amur - Rjurik Davidson
Library of Forgotten Books : Twilight in Caeli-Amur - Rjurik Davidson
Library of Forgotten Books : The Passing of the Minotaurs - Rjurik Davidson
Library of Forgotten Books : Lost in the Library of Forgotten Books - Rjurik Davidson

A bit overboard.

3 out of 5

Chasing the dragon and an Inland sea.

3.5 out of 5

Philosopher-assassin with Truth Mould.

3 out of 5

Flower power notes.

4 out of 5

A really interesting story about a dwindling race of minotaurs, and their visit to a city at a ritual time. Conspiracies and exploitation plots swirl around these strangers.

4 out of 5

Chompy reading.

3 out of 5



4 out of 5

Lost In the Library of Forgotten Books - Rjurik Davidson

Chompy reading.


3 out of 5

Lovers In Caeli-amur - Rjurik Davidson

Philosopher-assassin with Truth Mould.


3 out of 5

Int Morgue Night - Rjurik Davidson

Chasing the dragon and an Inland sea.


3.5 out of 5

The Cinema Of Coming Attractions - Rjurik Davidson

A bit overboard.


3 out of 5

Squid Pulp Blues - Jordan Krall

Collection of weird violence, with cephalopods.

Squid Pulp Blues : The Haberdasher - Jordan Krall
Squid Pulp Blues : The Longheads - Jordan Krall
Squid Pulp Blues : The Apocalypse Donkey - Jordan Krall
Squid Pulp Blues : Billy Roanoke - Jordan Krall

Death, with Golden Girls.

3 out of 5

General smashed and Barbara Stanwyck.

3 out of 5

Odd comics show.

3 out of 5

Squid ate my feet.

3 out of 5



2 out of 5

Billy Roanoke - Jordan Krall

Squid ate my feet.


3 out of 5

The Apocalypse Donkey - Jordan Krall

Odd comics show.


3 out of 5

The Longheads - Jordan Krall

General smashed and Barbara Stanwyck.


3 out of 5

The Haberdasher - Jordan Krall

Death, with Golden Girls.


3 out of 5

Anniversary - John Everson

Only get off once a month.


3.5 out of 5

Like Part of the Family - Jonathan Maberry

Changing strangely.


2 out of 5

Demon In the Sack - Space Johnston

Penelope problems. Hot, too.


3 out of 5

Mage Blood - Janet Morris

Tempus has a revolution and an oddball companion.


3 out of 5

Goblintown Justice - Matt Forbeck

Guard killing case.


3 out of 5

Solip:System - Walter Jon Williams

Reno needs power - and Black Mind destruction.


3.5 out of 5

Red Fiddler - Dave Freer and Eric Flint

Secure elf.


3 out of 5

Charlotte's Army - Patty Jansen

Just seven thousand created constructs to deal with.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Analog 966 - Stanley Schmidt

Poor start and middle, decent end for a measly 2.94. Articles on FTL and others are good as usual. McMullen, if you just want to pick one.

Analog 966 : Analog 966 - Stanley Schmidt
Analog 966 : Triggers Part 1 - Robert J. Sawyer
Analog 966 : An Interstellar Incident By Catherine Shaffer
Analog 966 : Listen Up Nitwits By Jack Mcdevitt
Analog 966 : Return Of The Zombie Sea Monster By Michael F. Flynn
Analog 966 : Humanity By Proxy By Mark Niemann-Ross
Analog 966 : Ninety Thousand Horses By Sean Mcmullen
Analog 966 : Project Herakles By Stephen Baxter
Analog 966 : Doctor Alien And The Spindles Of Infinity By Rajnar Vajra

Whoops, lost the White House.

2.5 out of 5

Technology exchange dinner.

3 out of 5

Voice issue.

2.5 out of 5

Cliche bits.

2.5 out of 5 out of 5

LASSIE design.

2.5 out of 5

Hellfire engine explosion.

3.5 out of 5

Making some giants.

3.5 out of 5

Cosmic brain cell trip.

3.5 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Doctor Alien And The Spindles Of Infinity - Rajnar Vajra

Cosmic brain cell trip.


3.5 out of 5

Project Herakles - Stephen Baxter

Making some giants.


3.5 out of 5

Ninety Thousand Horses - Sean McMullen

Hellfire engine explosion.


3.5 out of 5

Humanity - Mark Niemann-Ross

LASSIE design.


2.5 out of 5

Return Of The Zombie Sea Monster - Michael F. Flynn

Cliche bits.


2.5 out of 5

Listen Up Nitwits - Jack McDevitt

Voice issue.


2.5 out of 5

An Interstellar Incident - Catherine Shaffer

Technology exchange dinner.


3 out of 5

Triggers 1 - Robert J. Sawyer

Whoops, lost the White House.


2.5 out of 5

John Carter, Tarzan, And Friends: A Reader's Checklist - Rosemary Jones

Gives details of the various editions and formats of these works.


4 out of 5

Omega Point - Guy Haley

The second Richards and Klein novel isn't so much as the partners are split. Richards is in the Reality Realms, cut off from grid access and stuck in his own body trying to find his fellow Fives and get to k52. Complete with a giant soldier teddy bear as company. Reminiscent of Tad Williams' Otherworld, this virtual realm half of the book.

While Otto takes Chures and Valdaire and tries to find a genius hacker who may be the only one that can get them back in to the reality realms before a nuclear strike is called on their housing facility. They just have to survive attacks by a crazed and severely upgraded fellow cyborg soldier of Otto's to do so. And not get killed by Cossacks or Chinese powered armour soldiers, either.


3.5 out of 5

One of Our Asteroids Is Missing - Robert Silverberg

A man finds a valuable metallic asteroid and files a claim. Which promptly disappears. Backtracking, he finds the large mining cartel he turned down when they offered him a job are behind it. Not for the value of the metal, but because of the find of a solitary advanced alien of immense age, complete with his gear.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Guardian of the Dawn - William King

Kill orcs, trolls, worse monsters - and stupid humans that don't believe innocents and torture them.


3.5 out of 5

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Or time for the actual war.

After a nice bit of forcefield blowing up, our archer girl gets to be a political symbol on tv in costume, as well as get into some serious combat trouble.

After making a deal that she gets to kill a president.


3.5 out of 5

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

The sequel as you would guess goes for the Rollerball option. Powerful unhappy with sporting event result getting a bit rebellious? Change the rules to try and get them killed!

Or back in the arena, all you champions. With requires the actual rebel leaders to do some dealmaking so some of the figureheads they need get out alive.


3.5 out of 5

An Old Flame - Robert W. Walker

Pitchfork date end.


3 out of 5

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Exactly what you would expect in this book for kids. A simplistic dystopia with simple language - and what a surprise - in what was the USA. This one goes in for a bit of bread and circuses after a previous rebellion. Every year two kids are chosen to fight Battle Royale style but lower tech, with the last one standing allowed to live a life of comparative luxury afterwards and win a few comforts for their own state.

The hero of the story volunteers to take her 12 year old sister's place and sets forth to begin displeasing the political rulers as signs of rebellion begin to grow.


3.5 out of 5

Babylon Steel - Gaie Sebold

A cross-planar adventure. A woman who is the ex-avatar of a god runs after that goes badly, through many planar portals. She ends up as the madam of a brothel and runs into problems with conservative religious fanatics as well as her avatar past coming back to haunt her when she agrees to try and find a missing woman for one of the local high-ranking spooks.


3.5 out of 5

The Disappeared - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The cops on the moon problems grow quickly when the companies that enable humans to vanish ahead of very different alien laws start selling out their clients. One recent detective in particular has to deal with the situation of a corporate head who caused the death of many sentients she was unaware of - and the aliens whose planet it is want the lives of children in return

So, then easier to be a Retrieval Artist than a cop when all this is going on..


3.5 out of 5

Friday, March 23, 2012

Deadly Straits - R. E. McDermott

Iranian terrorist shipping lane plot, this thriller and rather polished it is. Plenty of globetrotting here in this multi-country espionage plot.


3.5 out of 5

Kings of Morning - Paul Kearney

A book of several sections. The first is concerned with the enmity between a twin Prince and Princess. The children of the woman the ruler of the Kufr actually liked. The other prince is the son of the current Queen. Neither King nor Queen has managed to have the other killed yet. Some dead royals coming soon though.

Then there is Corvus and his army slowly taking over bits of the Empire - until finally his opponent is forced to take the massive general levy army into the field with him and fight. Small problem for Corvus is being outnumbered five or six to one. Macht generals have done that before, though, including an army with Rictus in it.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 22, 2012

At the Virgin's Doorstep - Dave Wolverton

Shooting lure.


3 out of 5

Strata - Bradley P. Beaulieu and Stephen Gaskell

Sun-racing dystopia busting.


3.5 out of 5

Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait - K. A. Bedford

In this Douglas Adamsesque story, Time Machines are about as common as iPhones - and crap out a lot similarly.

So thriving business for him and his partner Dickhead.

Until he comes back from the future to warn himself about creatures from outside space and time and his partner and possible dead ex etc.

With the odd young murderer and minimal pining for the fjords.


3.5 out of 5

Choke On Your Lies - Anthony Neil Smith

Poetry professor nerd and his large corporate exploiter type friend get into trouble thanks to enemies made.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

Men hate women in Sweden. Especially punk superhackers.


3 out of 5

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Borderlands of Science - Charles Sheffield

As the author says, an out of date science book - even more so now of course seeing it is from the start of the century. Also about science fiction and the production of, in combination.


3.5 out of 5

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl - Tim Pratt

Supernatural western comic book creator's creations are a bit real - and dangerous. And crazy.


3 out of 5

Implant - Michael Wallace and Jeffrey Anderson

The titular device is one for the brain - to record what field spooks see and hear.

Messing in brains can of course make people go psycho.

So does discovery of new oil in Namibia.


3.5 out of 5

Moonlight In the Meg - Robert E. Vardeman

A total surveillance society and a group of friends that live there, using their skills to get around it and go out after curfew, not be monitored, etc. As background, an interstellar war with aliens.


3.5 out of 5

Lucy Cruz and the Chupacabra Killings - Steven Torres

A photojournalist freelancer in Dolores Puerto Rico is hired to stake out a stalking-goat each night to see if the goat killing beastie comes calling.

Possibly, but something much worse - she witnesses a murder. Soon afterwards, she gets to be witness to her own attempted murder more than once and with a boyfriend shot starts to take a hand in the investigation.


4 out of 5

Monday, March 19, 2012

And Blue Skies From Pain - Stina Leicht

Just as good as the first as Liam Kelly keeps getting himself into trouble. Fey trials, death by demon, bank robbery, kidnapped by Provos, driven mad by ghosts, assassinated by Fallen corrupted priests. And not eating enough.

Didn't get shot rescuing a combat nun though.


4 out of 5

Tomorrow and Tomorrow - Charles Sheffield

A composer whose wife dies of an incurable disease wants cryostasis for her and himself. However, when woken up he takes her cryotomb from Pluto and opens it when he shouldn't.

There begins an odyssey further and further into the future and the universe as he waits for when she could be cured. Along with solving alien invasions and space signals and being copied a billion times.


3.5 out of 5

Fault Line - Barry Eisler

Ben Treven, fresh from killing some people (including an FSB agent) as one of his assignments is contacted by his estranged brother for help. His law firm was working with a software program called Obsidian - new fancy, fast encryption. Now two of the people involved have been killed and files taken.

So the program is more than it seems, given the level of interest and Ben soon works out his actual brand of help is needed.


3.5 out of 5

The Hunted - Dave Zeltserman

A man finds out the US government agency he has been hired as an assassin for is not using him to kill insurgents.

When an ordinary seeming woman is his target he begins to realise things are not right.

What he has been really hired for is to kill unemployed Americans to make the statistics look better to supposedly help the US economy.


3 out of 5

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk

Tyler likes punching, soap and proteges.


3 out of 5

Match Point For Murder - Kin Platt

A book from 1975 - some of the setting backdrop being the US energy crisis and Women's Lib.

The growth of professional tennis for women and the use of metal racquets, too, as a young Australian tennis champion is murdered after leaving for the day from the tournament at the Forum in Los Angeles. Not the only one, either.

Investigator Max Roper looks into it and the scene and finds something rather more politically motivated than just wanting to bump off an up and coming rival.

Solid book.


3.5 out of 5

Infidel - Kameron Hurley

Nyx is still in it up to her cut throat in the political infighting between the bel dames and the Queen and each other, as various factions would like to use her. This pulls her old team back together and continues to get people killed in nasty ways - while preventing a greater war.


3.5 out of 5

Duplicate Effort - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A daughter clone, a dead mentor's operation, a marathon on the Moon, a DNA nicking Tracker, a nasty bioweapons maker combine in this mystery case.


3.5 out of 5

The Black King - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Give up the ruling idea and what happens? Your sister gets possessed and goes crazy.

So, killing her is a solution but one with some nasty ancient magic type consequences.


3 out of 5

The Black Queen - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Arianna is not alone in her own ahead. Which is bad when you are in charge.

This draws her brother into her trouble.


3 out of 5

The White Mists of Power - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Pretty standard sort of faux medieval light fantasy novel, bard, magician, king, magic source etc.


3 out of 5

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Cyber Puppets - Angus McAllister

A couple of centuries later a really popular entertainment program is a more-dimensional reworking of a soap about about Scotch barons.

Some of the characters have been made real - software minds put in human bodies. what to do with the show then?


3.5 out of 5

Easy Innocence - Libby Fischer Hellman

Ex-cop PI investigator gets a case. An autistic kid is accused of the murder of a beautiful blonde high school girl. As Georgia Davis investigates she uncovers high school prostitution, dodgy toxic land deals, an undercover ex and a crimelord.


3.5 out of 5

The Braided World - Kay Kenyon

A desperate ship arrives on an alien planet, the inhabitants of which breed rather differently. So conflict over that, as youw ould expect. Hidden here is information from old alien species about what is going on, especially the dark matter stuff that is likely to wipe out everyone.


3 out of 5

Six Against the Stars Omnibus - Stephen Hunt

Tongue in cheek adventure of a reprobate trying to not get killed by those who see his a waste of resources. So of course he has to do something important for humanity as compared to AI - with a motley crew of robots, mad scientists and crazed killers along for the ride. Luckily, also a smart spaceship.

3 out of 5


The conclusion to this motley crew's adventures - who is manipulating who, engineered intelligence, aliens, themselves - the traitor among them - as they actually do manage to recover the android and the odd clone.

3 out of 5



2.5 out of 5

Six Against the Stars 2 - Stephen Hunt

The conclusion to this motley crew's adventures - who is manipulating who, engineered intelligence, aliens, themselves - the traitor among them - as they actually do manage to recover the android and the odd clone.


3 out of 5

Absorption - John Meaney

A sort of sequel of To Hold Infinity, with Carl Blackstone and his son Roger. And mental vampire attacks.

As well as other time periods. Viking time, the second quarter of the 20th century, the very far future, etc.

Kind of meandering and an obvious trilogitis part, not in a good way.


2.5 out of 5

The Dream Curator - Alex Irvine

Favorite fragments.


3 out of 5

Infernal Devices - K. W. Jeter

Artificial people, fishmen, future mind overlays and weapons of world destruction.


3 out of 5

Morlock Night - K. W. Jeter

Victorian reborn Arthur vs Morlocks. With bonus Excaliburs.


3 out of 5

The Desert of Souls - Howard Andrew Jones

Arabian Nights influenced fantasy featuring his Dabir and Asim duo. Lost cities, evil wizards, snake aliens.


3 out of 5

The Serpentine Fire - Robert W. Walker

A serpent god that possesses people and uses them to combust others as a nice form of sustenance. And is after some scrolls to improve their situation - how would you combat that, you may ask?

With a hand saw, maggots - and antimatter.


3.5 out of 5

Puncher's Chance - James Grayson and K. S. Ferguson

Martian medicine milk run. Not.


3 out of 5

Surrender To the Will of the Night - Glen Cook

Nowhere near as interesting as the first couple, this lengthy tome of god killers and massacres etc.


2.5 out of 5

Aftershock - Lee Killough

Suicide setup.


3 out of 5

Starship Summer - Eric Brown

Column trip.


3 out of 5

A Matter of Time - Glen Cook

A not very interesting detective story in the seventies with some tachyons and 2058.


2.5 out of 5

A Path to Coldness of Heart - Glen Cook

A long build up to an attempt to take down the ultimate manipulator, the Star Rider. After Bragi gets out of captivity and makes some changes and the various factions in Kavelin work out how not to kill each other.


3.5 out of 5

An Ill Fate Marshalling - Glen Cook

Overlapping Reap the East Wind - the domestic issues in Kavelin are highlighted and a fateful choice by Bragi to go East. Plus the odd bet.


3.5 out of 5

Reap the East Wind - Glen Cook

Consolidation and manoeuvring in the Dread Empire and Kavelin - and the rise of the Deliverer.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Faith - John Love

A ship full of psychos gets to hunt down a civilisation killing super ship after it returns a few hundred years later. The Outsider ships get named after serial killers. Again, of course, ones from our contemporary time. Which is rather bizarre, but a really common thing for authors to do.


3.5 out of 5

Vampire Apocalypse - Derek Gunn

A good story as after an energy crisis and failure of technology the bloodsuckers come out of the woodwork, with communications and plentiful power no longer a threat they set out to take over. Humans fight back and start to win thanks to the whole we don't need to sleep in the daytime thing.

However, the vampires come up with a serum to poison the water and food supplies, making most people docile sheep.

A small group of rebels in one city decide they are going to fight back, no matter what the cost.

All good, but the author has a serious vocabularly problem with homonyms. Break/brake, lode/load, breach/breech, etc. And isn't sure what virulent means either. So, try a dictionary.


3 out of 5

The Panama Laugh - Thomas S. Roche

Very solid, and in the Lucius Shepard vein. Sort of book that could get upgraded after thinking about it a bit.

A mercenary working for a family whose elder wants to look into radical life extension gets to travel the world investigation viruses and biotech etc. Sort of lucky for him that it did as it means he develops an immunity to the disease that turns people into zombies. The sort of zombies that the Joker would create.

Thereafter, zombie apocalypse and he and an ex-criminal gun nut mate and his ex-girlfriend try and survive with a small group of devotees of his conspiracy viral videos telling what went on.


3.5 out of 5

Mistification - Kaaron Warren

Dodgy magician with magical abilities has to do what everybody else does, generally. Stop living with the rellies. Especially when hey die.

Then girlfriend, dodgy story, anecdote, etc. etc.


3 out of 5

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Crown of the Blood - Gav Thorpe

A general of competence but ambition wants to score the campaign with the most kudos as his command for the next season. The Prince who is his sponsor suggests a way to do this via an old law which draws him in to an Empire spitting political conflict, with ambitions growing ever greater.

The non-Roman style empire conflict fantastic part comes into this thanks to the Brotherhood and their academic and magical cult ways of communication - and control of the Blood Royal Dynasty. Therefore, a new general they do not have under control is not welcome.


3.5 out of 5

The Crown of the Conqueror - Gav Thorpe

Our general become king here is attempting to solidify his control over the empire while dealing with the king in his head. Hordes of barbarians and devious city state rulers stand in his way, along with the Brotherhood who would still like to control everything from behind the scenes and attempt to deal with him.


3.5 out of 5

Devil Wings Over France - James Reasoner

Bats, rabid ones. Plus the usual bad Germans.


3 out of 5

The Dark Lady - Mike Resnick

Another Birthright novel with the subject a mysterious woman who leaves death and thrillseekers in her wake, as investigated by others.


3 out of 5

The Branch - Mike Resnick

Unwilling possible Messiah in a carny. Complete with the dodgy interested parties you would expect, crooks, publishers and others.


2.5 out of 5

A Miracle of Rare Design - Mike Resnick

A man wanting to observe alien culture but unable to as a human has his body transformed to that of the locals. And continues to do so to visit other places.


3 out of 5

The Office of Shadow - Matthew Sturges

Nowhere near as interesting as the first classic dirty dozen setup. Silverdun repeats in this Seelie/Unseelie WMD hoohah.


2.5 out of 5

Ring - Stephen Baxter

The final Xeelee book also happens to mention the settings for Raft and Flux, too.

A woman is created to die and then live virtually inside the sun to find out what is happening to cause it to age so quickly and discover the dark matter photino birds who need stars like that to live in. Whereas all normal matter life need normal stars.

A group of humans from the same time decide to put together a general ship to travel a thousand years taking a wormhole interface with them so they can again travel back to the past from this star-blighted future.

The Ring is another detour - the great Xeelee project to create a Kerr metric and allowing the most powerful of all normal matter races to escape the photino bird devastation and attack into another universe.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, March 12, 2012

Flux - Stephen Baxter

Virtual colonists create micro-humans to live in a neutron star - and leave them to survive on their own, eventually, out of necessity.

The Xeelee conflict and communication re-establishment changes things.


3 out of 5

Timelike Infinity - Stephen Baxter

Centuries into the future humans have undergone not one but two alien invasions and occupations. The worst of which is the current - the Qax. Stripping humanity of longevity technology and putting them to work these strange non-numerous water entities grow complacent. Rebels launch a starship on the return of a human ship from a relativistic trip through a wormhole back to the past, with an amazingly long-range and audacious conceit. A wormhole exists also to a future time where the Qax Occupation has been defeated thanks to a human pilot acquiring a Xeelee fighter and scaring them into blowing up their own sun, weakening their power.

A Qax official from this future time decides to take a couple of ships back to Berg and Poole's human era, to remove the rebels and the threat from existence. Poole and Berg have other ideas, even it means sacrificing themselves and blowing up wormhole gates in the process.


4 out of 5

Raft - Stephen Baxter

An extension of the short story, a group of humans enter an alternate universe with a different gravity, one many orders of magnitude stronger - so, no planets. A very hostile place and the humans that survive the years again do so in various castes as things deteriorate.


3 out of 5

The Best Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy - Mike Resnick

The last of the Galactic Midway books again has an attraction with a problem. This time, the Dancer. The trick shot artist now wants a new challenge, and the upper management's idea: a duel to the death with the champion of another violent world. He likes the idea.

When a robot Doc Holliday is built that can beat him, his death wish can be satisfied, but bullets can go astray and kill others, leading Flint back to earth.


3 out of 5

The Wild Alien Tamer - Mike Resnick

The third tale of the Galactic Midway's staffing issue is as the title suggests. His lion and leopards have both died, succumbing to the stresses of interstellar travel. And finally his big ol' bear passes away too, leaving him without an act and too highly paid to help someone else out. So he is finally given a ship to go round up some animals. However, an employee makes a deal - a big batlike alien volunteers to be the 'animal' in his show for a good percentage. On worlds that find humans scary, they swap. Then fight. A lot.


3 out of 5

The Three Legged Hootch Dancer - Mike Resnick

This time the carny has taken to the stars, given funding by the corporation. The staff problem this time is that their most talented stripper and her talents are not needed in a galaxy that has no interest in strip shows. At least, not human ones.


3 out of 5

Sunday, March 11, 2012

7th Sigma - Steven Gould

Martial arts vs nanobugs?

Or, a metal and radiation loving plague. Affecting where? Yep, you guessed it, the USA. Really, you can avoid a disproportionate percentage of science fictional and horror and fantasy nasties just by never going there.

There are a couple of interestin short stories from this setting. The longer work? Not so much.


2.5 out of 5

Seed - Rob Ziegler

In a future where the temperature is averaging 5 degrees hotter things are bad. Food is in short supply, disease is rampant and insane gene wizards experiment Mengele fashion to their own and corporate ends. In the tradition of the Windup Girl, you could say. The large Satori corporation is the most powerful organisation and has its own organic habitats. After a bunch of artificial human killers are sent after her and her team, one military officer has had enough and decides to fight back. Interesting stuff, and another example that suggests that even those that don't believe in capital punishment certainly are going to consider it for rapacious greedy bastards that endanger food supplies.

Interesting work.


3.5 out of 5

Sideshow - Mike Resnick

A hardarse carny owner and his offsider visit a freak show - something the boss would really like but has never been able to obtain. An opportunity exists to produce a copy of such earthly oddity - by making a deal for some aliens.


3 out of 5

Eros at Nadir - Mike Resnick

Now just a relic, Cupid the computer still exists. And is in dialogue with a scriptwriter producing a work about the Velvet Comet. Cupid would rather the real story is shown as opposed to musical with showgirls that the writer wants to do that will make him heaps of cash.


3 out of 5

Eros Descending - Mike Resnick

The Velvet Comet has had a long and profitable existence until it runs into a religious fanatic who becomes too obsessed. Becoming ill his son proves even worse, going for the hostages and nuclear option, leaving security and the corporation with some hard choices.


3 out of 5

Eros at Zenith - Mike Resnick

The second Velvet Comet novel has their corporate masters despatch a detective to look into a murder aboard. The head of security is now The Dragon Lady and the two have to see what they can do, together and in opposition.


3 out of 5

Eros Ascending - Mike Resnick

The story of the top of the line brother and resort ship, the Velvet Comet. Here an accountant is sent to attempt to take down a company and ends up falling for the madam, the Leather Butterfly, to tragic ends as he sides with her instead.


3 out of 5

Inferno - Mike Resnick

Inferno is the third of these African country on another world analogues. This time Uganda. And this planet too is afflicted with a succession of genocidal maniacs until the guerilla wait it out and built support until you can take out the last one standing strategy of an ex-schoolteacher allows the locals to begin to go their own way again.


3 out of 5

Purgatory - Mike Resnick

Purgatory is the second of these African country on another world analogues. This time Zimbabwe. The alien world is colonised by Man. Thrust into the future of the Republic things fall apart and the humans flee the land, leaving the now 'civilised' economy to crater.


3 out of 5

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Planet Killers - Robert Silverberg

A computer prediction suggests the planet Lurion will become aggressive enough with the next 67 years to get Earth embroiled in a war - once that is extremely likely to destroy the planet.

How to fix this? Destroy Lurion first. This requires sending five spies there at staggered intervals with devices to activate a planet killer weapon. Problem there is some of them have to wait months while the others get opportunity to land of a planet with few humans.

After being there some time and gaining a girlfriend - who would die when the weapon was set off - the lead agent discovers a growing band of locals who oppose the conservatives in power. A factor he doesn't think his Security Agency masters took into account before the planet kill determination.


3.5 out of 5

Sky Pirates - William King

No big surprise that King would pen a sword and sorcery novel given the Gotrex and Felix series.

Here it would appear we have a little of a Moorcock homage. The lead character is named Ulrik and there are a bunch of demonic black blades floating around. Rather than snow and ice however, Ulrik's domain was as the title suggested.

Until he got captured and rather than being executed was made to fight in the Pit. Which is a slower and more fundraising version of the former, of course, given he was not allowed to earn cash.

Beating a champion with the help of a wizard's loan of a sword and a lot of drugs said wizard decides he could use him as a bodyguard, so buys him from the Pit.

Bit of a catch though. His idea of a bodyguard is to bind a demon inside him as a sword and sorcery version of the old implanted explosive trick. The pair become a threesome as our wizard's other slave is a catgirl thief.

The major problem then becomes the fact that run of the mill blackhearted wizardly bastardry and demonic messing around that our hero is forced to put up with looks like a CWA cake stall compared to what Molok has planned. Which includes blackblading and demoning up a bunch of fellow Sky Pirates of Ulrik's as part of his fleet.

Sword and sorcery characters are often in the evil sorcerer killing business, however. And for Ulrik, business is a boomin'.


3.5 out of 5

Crossed - J. F. Lewis

More shenanigans with the uber vampire with the vampire car. This time, hell trip possibilities and an open marriage. Shagging the bride's supernatural sister turns out to be not such a great idea. As does saying no to an uber vampire.


3 out of 5

Giant Thief - David Tallerman

A thief about to meet your secondary world fantasy ending (that is, hanged, cheaply) gets a surprise. Recruited to be volunteer brigade cannon fodder in a warlord's army.

Not just guys like him, they have some giants, too. Not liking the whole likely to die very shortly in battle he decides to do something about it - taking a giant with him. This leads to the reason that said not nice warlord has giants to start with. And a bit of a war over it.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eclipse - K. A. Bedford

An interstellar navy with seriously deteriorating and institutionalised bastardry and abuse graduates a couple of officers - and they are assigned to a ship. Almost immediately they fall foul of the above, the grownup version.

Soon, the ship is tasked with checking out an alien derelict, our hero getting volunteered to be the lead guy. All in an atmosphere of human space fracturing and heading for war - with the smaller nation the Eclipse is from being likely to soon be taken over.

Throw in some genocide.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Hero Years...I'm Dead - Michael A. Stackpoole

Here Stackpole takes the Revenant character seen in his short story in Superheroes (and apparently his Champions games, too) and gives him a double origin.

A hero comes back to town, aging, slowing and has to deal with the daughter he doesn't know him and thinks him a waste of oxygen, her mother, his Lex Luthoresque supervillain father and all his old allies and mentors.

As well as the fact that now there is bidding by superheroes to fight supervillains and big money fantasy leagues with ratings based on their outcomes. Systems like that and supervillains means they are bound to be meddled with, Chaos style, given a much bigger plot at work.

Very good. Yet another fine novel that your garden variety characters didn't know what to do with.


4 out of 5

The God Stalker Chronicles - P. C. Hodgell

A omnibus of two novels

God Stalk
Dark of the Moon

God Stalk is an interesting novel. A fantasy novel set in a city and with a ton of stuff thrown in. No interminable farmboy wanderings or 7 page descriptions of a pants leg.

Jame, a little like Telzey Amberdon has that je ne sais quoi -- and you certainly don't know what she is going to get up to next. Stealing pants or killing gods. Exotic dancing or cat rescuing.

So certainly not dull and has a bit of charm as her heritage and superpowers begin to catch up with her.

3.5 out of 5


Not as interesting as the first. Here the story leaves Tai-Tastagon and Jame and her brother get involved in a far more standard sort of secondary world fantasy war with the usual that such involves.

3 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Dark of the Moon - P. C. Hodgell

Not as interesting as the first. Here the story leaves Tai-Tastagon and Jame and her brother get involved in a far more standard sort of secondary world fantasy war with the usual that such involves.


3 out of 5

Sudden Death Overtime - Steve Vernon

Three old hockey players taken on a bunch of vampires.


3.5 out of 5

White Sands Red Steel - Keith C. Blackmore

Four mercenary comrades manage to get past a beastmen army into a city. Rescued by a lancer charge they are seriously wounded and take a month to recover.

Unfortunately for them in that time a new beastmen king has taken over. His brain actually works. So the city rulers have a scheme, too, send the mercenaries out as escort for a dealmaker. Not knowing what the deal is they are soon on the run from beastmen as are the people that make it out of the city alive.


3.5 out of 5

Sundowner - Chris Claremont

The third Nicole Shea books finds her still stuck on Earth until General Canfields finds out this is by executive order. She concocts a plan to get Shea and Murai into space on a huge mile long globular spaceship to enable testing of the spaceplane she was working on and to smoke out what is actually going on.

Which seem to be both the conservatives who want her dead and aliens with ulterior motives as an interstellar mission leads her to confront her adopted family and many changes.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grounded! - Chris Claremont

Because of her misadventures, injuries and other entanglements Shea is no longer allowed to be a spacer. Therefore once fit again she is assigned to an air force base - as her feline alien friends are coming to work on a joint project. The improvement of ground to space transport for both species.

However, it wasn't just well resourced space pirates she has to worry about, but a ridiculously wealthy tycoon and his offspring are also around. Something much bigger is at stake when a President that favours alliances and bringing humanity closer together comes visiting. An alien alliance a separate power base than those of the current vested interests. The latter of whom it seems would like to see adopted alien Nicole Shea dead.


3.5 out of 5

The Noise Revealed - Ian Whates

A disappointing space opera. Old girlfriends, human political organisations clashing, a superwoman, no goodniks, super viruses, other energy tapping, aliens, spaceflight but all pretty mediocre when put together.


2.5 out of 5

A Gathering Evil - Michael A. Stackpole

A man wakes up - and discovers that he is about to be harvested for his bodily organs. Luckily, he is good at violent resistance and manages to get out of there. He discovers he has no memory but manages to find help and get involved in something a lot stranger than organlegging.

Strange even than corporate enclave dystopia. Psyhic powers, interdimensional invasions. Large buggy things and the odd snake woman.


3.5 out of 5

Paradise - Mike Resnick

A colonisation story. The Republic of Man move in on a primitive planet and the same exploitation, culture shock and destruction of wildlife happens, much as it had in Africa. Along with uprisings. When the humans withdraw rapidly the locals have to deal with the rapid progress. A human biographer is asked to write a book about their first president and war hero. Then return after he has died to see another in a short succession of rulers.


3 out of 5

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Breach - Patrick Lee

An ex-convict ex-detective comes across a woman being tortured by a group of armed men up to something odd - he manages to kill them and save her after an arduous trek largely carrying her. What they are after is a strange artifact - an artificial intelligence with what appears to be near-omniscience but its own terrifying ulterior motives.

That is not all, as she works for a project that shepherds the technology that comes through the titular portal, the result of a Very Large Ion Collider project going wrong in 1978, amusingly. This Whisper device is one of those things. Other bad and good stuff arrives - lots of which bad people would like to have, including one of the ex-project heads, the man responsible for our heroine's torture in an attempt to gain back the device. Said intelligence also has plans for our hero.

Very solid.


3.5 out of 5

Chill - Elizabeth Bear

Atmospheric (as fantasy) but not particularly interesting sequel of a Generation Ship and the devolution of its crew into Castes that do Jobs with the power plays and problems with keeping it running.


3 out of 5

First Flight - Chris Claremont

A hotshot trainee airforce spaceship pilot makes a mistake on her final simulator exam. Therefore, they want to can her. However, the board's decision is overruled by the commander and she graduates. Given a simple 'milk run' mission under an experienced commander as her titular mission things get a lot more complicated. First, attacked by pirates, then discovering an alien starship on a diplomatic mission. Then the pirates again.

Very good.


4 out of 5

Hard Spell - Justin Gustainis

Fairly standard sort of stuff. Experienced cop - at least in somewhere slightly different - although it is ho-hum USA again - has to deal with supernatural people as part of his job. Your vampires, werewolves, witches, etc.

Lose a partner, have a colleague get possessed and a daughter monsterised, that sort of thing. Certainly not up to the standard or interest of the Morris and Chastain novels, unfortunately.


3 out of 5

The Doppelganger Gambit - Lee Killough

In a future where everyone wears thigh (or hip) boots and jumpsuits and are rather more liberated a cop has to deal with losing a partner to injury. Attempted murder by monofilament garotte has left him blinded, not long before he is off to an interstellar colony with his wife.

One such colony ship has run into trouble it is found as a message is sent back. Huge numbers of their human popsicles has died. The hot cops chase bad guy novel revolves around the mystery of tracking down why. A case of corruption and fraud - selling them lesser ship and engine technology than they paid for.


3.5 out of 5

The Damned Busters - Matthew Hughes

Matthew Hughes is one of the right people to write a wry, urbane deal with the devil type story.

It is more entertaining than that, however. Here, our protagonist, thanks to his single-minded high functioning autistic style actuarial obsessions is able to throw Hell into a bit of a bureaucratic tizz. He's also an honest man without the desire for anything. Therefore no soul-selling.

What he gets out of agreeing to help old Lucifer out to some degree is a deal. Two hours a day he gets his own demon servant.

What he wants his stogie-chomping imp with a fondness for grog and poker to do? Make him into a superhero, so he can fight crime. Add a complication that the owner of his company he works for starts an actuarial unit to look at analysing crime patterns - which he has been seconded to.

How long can you fake being your own Jimmy Olsen for?

Diverting.


3.5 out of 5

Camera Obscura - Lavie Tidhar

The second of the Kim Newmanesque excursions although often with skewed literary figures or facsimiles of. Doctor Frankenstein, Carmilla and neighbour, the Phantom of the Opera, Buffalo Bill, etc., etc.

This time things culminate in an American-style World's Fair event. Milady de Winter is a Council agent caught up in trying to stop it. Rather more Cleopatra Jones this gun for an arm woman than French manipulator, however, as she has to survive encounters with other enhanced or inhuman entities and stop an alien invasion.


3.5 out of 5

The Road to Bedlam - Mike Shevdon

This time, a rather more sure of himself protagonist gets to utilise his now more capable faery powers. Also his growing inability to be unable to stop others hitting him with sharp pointy metal things helps, too.

A job to do as a Warder still means he has kids to look after. Daughters that are not dead, just kidnapped by secret organisations that want to experiment on them, and a son about to be born.


3 out of 5