Archive for aliens

OUT OF THE DARK By David Weber – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

How do I review this book without ruining the surprise ending that lets it all down? Ok, let’s start off with the good, there’ll be plenty of time for the bad in a minute.

Aliens decide to invade Earth.

This is an ensemble piece, following not only several human characters but also the aliens, giving us an insight into the politics of the Shongairi (a dog-like race) and their Hegemony (universe-wide coalition). The problem is that there is a little too much going on and none of the characters are well developed, or even developed a little bit.

Straight to the bad stuff. The characters are merely cardboard cut-outs. The world is half-destroyed by the alien race but who gives a shit, there is nothing in this book that really presents this as a bad thing and certainly nothing to make us care about it. For an “advanced” race the Shongairi are pretty stupid, and when they invade they are ill-prepared and equipment for infantry warfare, which is explained easily enough, but not entirely convincingly. Then we have Weber’s obsession with weaponry. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except when it overpowers the story. Instead of being told how a something grain bullet travels faster in one weapon than another, how about telling us why we should care about the marine in Romania, or the rednecks in the hills, or anyone in this book.

Ok, now for the spoiler alert: The Earth and whatever is left of humanity is saved from the alien invasion by Dracula about twenty pages towards the end, with no signposting or anything to make me believe this is in anyway real. I can accept alien races invading Earth, that’s fine, I can suspend disbelief because the author has sold me that story and I’ll willing to buy it. What I’m not willing to buy is a writer throwing in a deus ex machina. I feel robbed.

Not the story I was looking for, not the writer I was looking for. Disappointing on all fronts.

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WAR DOGS By Greg Bear – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by stanleyriiks

The Earth has been invaded, but the aliens (Gurus) are friendly and offer technological assistance and warnings of an impeding invasion by evil aliens (the Antags), who start the war against humanity on Mars.

The desolate planet is a battle-ground into which Master Sergeant Michael Venn is ejected, but the drop with his fellow marines and their supplies and weaponry goes wrong. Venn finds himself on the planet with little air or supplies, and just a few rag-tag remnants of his platoon.

Up until this point it’s kind of like a more military version of The Martian, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s desperate and kind of scary. But about half way through the novel Bear seems to lose the plot a bit, adds in more politics as some officers turn up, and a local human Martian who takes them to a shelter, where they are soon the target of the infamous Antags.

Then the book goes completely off the rails, adding in more politics, conspiracies and things that complicate the book no ends and serve only to distract from what could have been an excellent military adventure on the desperate wind-swept planet of Mars.

This is not the novel you are look for, if, like me, you wanted some action adventure military SF. Starts well, ends badly.

LEGION OF THE DAMNED By William C. Dietz – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by stanleyriiks

Set in a far flung future where the Human Empire has colonised a number of planets, including the Legion’s adopted home planet of Algeron, and lives in a cosy and comfortable peace. Until the war-like Hudatha race obliterate an entire planet, the first in their deadly space-bound march towards Earth, intent on destroying every human being on their way.

Baldwin is a traitorous human guiding the enemy’s hand in his lust for vengeance; Booly is a Legionnaire injured on Algeron and left for dead but really a prisoner of war captured by the indigenous population; Chu Chien is a rich merchant intent on bringing his son home safe from one of the rim planets soon to be hit by the Hudatha’s deadly swathe; Scolari is the head of the Navy, hoping to persuade the Emporer to pull his troops back to defend Earth against invasion…

So Dietz provides various political intrigues and power-plays to go along with the more meaty action of the fighting and battles. Well, when I say more meaty, I mean more interesting, but Dietz spends a little too much time developing the machinations of not only the human powers but also those of the Hudathan, and the Naa (the natives of Algeron).

But the Legion and its history is much more in keeping with this book of battle, and really helps with backstory and characterisation (of which there is little). There is a lot going on and the lack of decent characters to grasp on to mean you can flounder around wondering who is what for the majority of the novel. Having characters called Booly and Baldwin doesn’t help, how about characters with names beginning with a different letter for a start.

If anything this book is a little too ambitious. Likely it is the set-up book for a possibly long-running series, and Deitz wanted to get as much in and introduce as many characters as possible in the first book. But ultimately there is too much in here, and it feels crammed in, and a little crammed down your throat, and it makes it a little hard to chew.

There are good bits, particularly the Legion’s history, and the story builds nicely but to a climax that takes just a couple of pages and feels a bit of a let-down.

It’s such a shame, I was so looking forward to this book, and it failed to enthral me, although it did marginally entertain it. I won’t be back for any more.

THE DARWIN ELEVATOR By Jason M. Hough – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Set a couple of hundred years into the future the world has been ravished by a murderous disease that has wiped out most of the planet’s inhabitants. In Darwin, Australia, the sole human habitation on planet earth leads a dirty and struggling existence. In the shadow of a mysterious elevator built by aliens that leads to massive human-built space farms and habitations outside of Earth’s orbit, and surrounded by subhumans (those infected with the disease), people survive hand to mouth if at all.

Skyler Luiken and his small crew are immunes, rare humans who don’t catch the disease immediately upon leaving the few kilometres from the bottom of the elevator that are not infected. They are scavengers, climbing the elevator and flying out from it above orbit to stop in the desolated cities of old earth, and taking what they can find before the subs attack.

But is the elevator failing? The climbers that take air and water up and bring food down keep losing power. And the man is charge of the fortress that surrounds the base of the elevator will do whatever it takes to increase his power.

A post-apocalyptic world, a thrilling plot, great characters. Hough’s first novel is immensely entertaining. The first in a series, the book set up the crumbling world incredibly well, Skylar is fleshed out nicely as are some of the other characters, and it all moves along as a nice pace, with plenty of action that doesn’t overwhelm the story telling.

A remarkable debut, that ends on an amazing cliff-hanger that will have you begging for the second book.

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Ok, so I didn’t manage to submit anything to the Ripped Genes: Biopunk Special Issue, which closed to submissions yesterday. I hear it’s going to be pretty damn good though. Fortunately there’s another Special Issue from the people at Morpheus Tales, now this one really floats my boat…

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

It’s 2012 – the year our world is supposed to end. Supposedly, on December 21st, we will cease to exist. But how is it going to happen? Fire? Flood? Earthquakes? Or something manmade, such as an unstoppable virus or a nuclear explosion?

You tell us. Morpheus Tales is looking for short stories of how the human race is going to die out. Use your imagination – it can be as realistic (fire, for instance) or as far-fetched (maybe zombies?) as you’d like. Is it quick and painless or slow and excruciating? Make us a little nervous that maybe, just maybe, your scenario is imminent.

We know zombies are the in thing right now – but we don’t want to dig through tons of zombie stories. Try to come up with something unique, something that will stand out in the crowd. We want to be freaked out and blown away by the methods you choose to wipe out the Earth.

What we DON’T want – vampires, werewolves, aliens, fantasy, sword and sorcery, biopunk. Otherwise, regular Morpheus Tales guidelines apply – no simultaneous submissions, standard manuscript format, only high quality character- or plot-driven stories of no more than 3,000 words. 

Please put Apocalypse  Special Issue Submission in the subject of your email and send to: morpheustales@blueyonder.co.uk

The Apocalypse Special Issue will be available as an ebook and via print-on-demand services. Contributor copies will be in ebook format.

Deadline 31st of December!

DEATH’S HEAD By David Gunn – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Amazon suggested this book to me because of a previous purchase of one of Andy Remic’s books. Andy Remic writes the kind of fast-paced, action-packed SF and fantasy stories that thrill and entertain in equal measure, so I was looking forward to this one.

For once amazon got it pretty much spot on.

Sven is an ex-sergeant Legionnaire who is about to be lashed to death for insubordination, until a group of Ferox (unfriendly Wookie-type creatures) attack the out-post he’s stationed at, killing everyone but him. One of the massive alien beasts talks to Sven using telepathy and Sven is taken back to their camp where he lives with them as a kind of pet.

This is the beginning of Sven’s adventures.

When the cave system the Ferox live in is attacked and Sven is saved, he becomes a tool of the General, given mission where the army needs deniability. Sven’s unique abilities and his tougher than shit attitude not only get him into trouble, but also out of it, as he tackles prison, treason, war and command.

Ok, so Sven’s adventures feel very much organic, the plotting for the novel seems to have happened during the writing process and each episode doesn’t connect too much with what follows or what came before other than occasional details, but that doesn’t matter.

The haphazard plotting makes it feel like a real adventure, and you can’t help but enjoy Sven’s “fuck you” attitude. This guys got huge balls and isn’t afraid to display them for all to see. You want Sven to win, whatever it is he’s doing. He’s one of those grumpy bastards, like Kell, Conan and Druss, that we’re used to seeing in fantasy fiction, but a lot less so in SF. Here we have a true hero, who knows the difference between right and wrong, but does things he own ways, whether it gets him into trouble or not.

So the aliens involved in the final battle all become a bit confused, and you’re not sure quite who’s fighting who, but who cares!

Sven is what carries the story on, and Gunn gives us a great helping of action to keep things speeding along nicely so we don’t get too worried about the details. Great fun, the kind of book that puts a grin on your face. A boy’s own adventure in space.