Archive for futuristic

DEATH’S HEAD: MAXIMUM OFFENCE By David Gunn – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Futuristic warfare is brutal. Just ask SvenTveskoeg, Lieutenant in the elite Death’s Head regiment of the Octovian Army, head of the go-to squad for General Jaxx, and seconded to the U/Free (superior alien race) to search for a missing ambassador on the artificial world of Hekati. Except nothing is ever as easy as it first appears for Sven, as his mission is a cover, and he doesn’t even know what his real mission is as it’s on a “need to know basis” and despite him being in charge of carrying out the mission, his superiors don’t believe he needs to know. Sven and his small team, the Aux, have to do their best to be diplomatic as they search for the missing U/Free on a world inhabited by bandits and gangs, all the while being chased by the Enlightened (humanity’s greatest enemy), and having to cope with a nineteen year old colonel who thinks he’s in charge.

But the Death’s Head series isn’t so much about plot as it is about action, here it’s delivered by the bucket-load. Fighting, battles, warfare, snipers, talking guns, spacecraft, treason and treachery, missing arms and all sort of action, excitement and adventure. There aren’t many books that could even keep pace with this face-stomping, arm twisting, rip-roaring riot of a novel. There’s little room here for developing characters (except for Sven who is our trusty narrator as well as our hero), clever plotting, or realistic futuristic worlds, all of these are secondary to the action-packed fun.

That’s not to say they’re missing, the second book in the series shows a slightly more complex structure than the first novel, there’s even a twist at the end. And the general narrative has a lot more depth, but this never takes away from the speed and excitement of the journey we’re on with the Death’s Head squad.

Only Andy Remic can hold a candle to the sheer blood-fuelled adrenaline shot that the Death’s Head books give you. There are few books as pacey or as exciting, and the second book leads so well into the third that you can’t help but leap up after finishing it, ready for more. Bring on the third book!

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CHI By Alexander Besher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2009 by stanleyriiks

CHI By Alexander Besher

This is a hard book to read. It’s difficult to explain why it’s so difficult to read. The lack of justification of the text sets off my OCD, but shouldn’t make it any more difficult to read. The complete inability of this reader to gain more than a temporary understanding of what’s going on during the first hundred pages, also shouldn’t make it difficult to read. I’ve read entire books not quite knowing what’s going on. It’s not like I haven’t visited this world before, I’ve been with Frank Gobi since Besher’s first book, and only read the second a little more than a year ago, so why oh why is this book so hard to read?

The first third of the novel, set in a futuristic world of the 2030s, basically sets up the actual story. Chi is being siphoned from a Thai Transsexual called Butterfly by the evil Wing Fat, a 650 pound porn king, who’s also the biggest chi trader in the world. It isn’t until the second third of the novel that we meet our protagonist Frank Gobi, who’s trying to find out about Wing Fat and being sucked into the plans of one Trevor Jordan.

There’s also a pair of orang-utans who have been given plastic surgery to look human and brought up as children of sterile humans, who are now reaching puberty and discovering that they’re not what they thought they were.

The plot is ridiculous, but that isn’t what makes it bad. The fact that virtually nothing happens, the writer doesn’t even appear to be aware of when to finish the book as much of the action happens in the Epilogue, and it all turns out to be one big joke in the end anyway.

This reader can’t help but feel cheated, especially as this 300 page novel feels at least double that length. To say it’s an effort to read this codswallop is an understatement. Besher’s worst novel, this really shouldn’t have been forced on the public. Editors should certainly have taken a look at this and sent it back for some serious revision.

Mir, Besher’s second book, took a hell of a while to warm up, but eventually it did and then it had some kind of plot. Chion the other hand lacks plot, story, characters, it’s big on ideas, there are a couple of nice ones in here, and for anyone familiar with Bangkok you’re feel all warm and fuzzy with some reminiscences. Other than that this is a pretty pathetic effort on the part of Besher, his editor and his publisher.

It’s a travesty that a novel (I use the word very loosely) of this quality (again loosely) is allowed into the marketplace when there is so much better that’s not being published.

THE SKY ROAD By Ken MacLeod – Reviewed

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE SKY ROAD By Ken MacLeod

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, trying to get through the huge stockpile of books I’ve managed to build up over the last twenty years. I’ve told myself I can’t buy any new books until I’ve made a dent in the three huge bookcases full I already have. I have a list ready of new books I want to buy: Drood, The Umblemished, Patient Zero… The list goes on. And on.

As Stephen King, and nearly every other successful writer, says: If you want to be a writer, you have to read a lot and write a lot. OK, so at the moment it’s a bit easier to do the former than the latter. I’m watching almost no TV, the house is a mess cos I’m not doing any chores (any excuse!), and I’m only watching about one film a week instead of one a day! Every spare minute seems to be taken up with reading, and I’ve been on a bit of a roll. In the last three months not one book has taken more than four days to read.

And then I come to The Sky Road.

This isn’t a book that can be read quickly. Unlike most modern novels it actually takes a bit of concentration, but when you put in the effort you do feel you’ve achieved something.

Set against the background of a post-apocalypse world, the people of the future are building a spaceship, their vehicle to travel The Sky Road of the title. Society consists of two very separate peoples, the Tinkers, a strange set of individuals who travel round the country and live free of care, but also use that strange technology called computers. No one else in normal society uses computers, afraid that they might be infected by the dark power.

When one of the normal citizens, Clovis Colha Gree, the narrator of half the book, meets and falls in love with a beautiful Tinker, he sets himself on a path of change and discovery he never could have imagined.

Interwoven with this is the story of the Deliverer, the person responsible for the almost-end-of-the-world that set humanity back on its chosen path.

Redolent with leftist politics and with MacLeod’s writing tight and concise, and filled with ideas, this book is a bit of a struggle to begin with. There’s so much in the densely packed pages that you need to concentrate a little more than you average SF novel.

King should take note of MacLeod’s use of adverbs; he’s a bit of a master and really shows what can be achieved with their careful use. It just goes to show that every writer has their own way of using language and we have to find the one we are most comfortable with.

At its heart this is a love-story and a tale of discovery. The backwards and forwards of the narration can be a bit herky-jerky and I felt the Deliverer’s story was a bit more exciting that the post-apocalyptic vision of Earth, but ultimately MacLeod delivers once again in his own unique style.

This doesn’t have the more futuristic setting of his other books, and I preferred The Cassini Division, but it made me look up Kazakhstan (where some of the book is set) on wiki and it actual made me think, something very few books (or anything else for that matter!) can do.

MacLeod is a strange but fascinating writer whose books compel you to continue reading and The Sky Road is no exception.