Archive for sci fi

BROTHERS OF THE SNAKE By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

This is a bit of a weird one, part circular short story collection, part novel, with the Iron Snakes of Ithaka as its heroes. The story starts with the primuls (dark Eldar) attacking the backward world of Baal Solock who can barely attempt to stave off the aliens and must call upon the Iron Snake Space Marines to aid them. The Iron Snakes send a young marine called Priad to deal with the problem. A few short stories later and Priad is now Brother Sergeant and back at Baal Solock to finish what he thought he’d finished all those years before. The stories in between may seem disconnected, but all of them are tales of the growth and development of the Iron Snakes.

Again, I’ll repeat, this is a bit of a weird one. Not really a novel, it doesn’t have the drive, energy or depth of a longer piece, although the novella at its end, which ties some of the stories together, makes up for some of that. The separate stories feel disjointed, despite sharing the Iron Snakes as a major theme they are often too dissimilar to feel like part of a single story.

Abnett creates some great set-piece battles, and his action sequences are top-notch, but here the structure of the book fails to draw the reader in enough.

Not quite a themed short story collection and not quite a novel, this book fails before it even begins.

Other novels by Abnett in the 40K universe are much worthier of your attention.

Morpheus Tales Supplement July – Out Now!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Do you want a free magazine? Do you like films? Do you like books? Do you like fantasy, sf and horror?

Want to read interviews with best-selling authors, brand new authors, publishers, and artists?

Want to read more of my opinions?

The latest issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement (FREE and ONLINE!) is out now!

http://issuu.com/morpheustales/docs/mt21reviews

45 pages of genre non-fiction, including author interviews with Juliet E. McKenna, Jack Skillingstead, and Karen Distasio, artist Duane Myers, and Firestone Books’ David Lear. Simon Marshall-Jones offers his Ramblings of a Tattooed Head column, plus loads of horror, sf and fantasy reviews! The Morpheus Tales Supplement accompanies MT#21 which launched 1st of July 2013.

The Quantum Thief By Hannu Rajaniemi – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jean le Flambeur is a legendary thief, who is broken out of prison by the alien Mieli and her sentient starship Perhonen. Jean is a post-human, his body was taken from him, his mind was imprisoned and mental torture took place during his incarceration. Now he has a new body, but his memories are not intact, and to do what Mieli asks of him he has to rediscover who he used to be.

What follows is an intricate spider-web of intrigues, layer upon layer of deception and politics.

Difficult is not a word I use often to describe a novel, but I found this one a challenge. There is a deep and complex world here, and Rajaniemi doesn’t make it as easy as it could be. This book written by Peter F. Hamilton would be another six hundred pages long, but would make a great deal more sense.

The climax the story builds towards seems to fade out before actually happening, but the complexity and intricacies of the plot had me floundering at times. On the surface this is a simple crime-thriller, but deeper it is a massively detailed political siege drama.

There are a lot of complex and excellent ideas, the gevulot privacy system, sharing memories, and post-humanity are clever. The fact that nothing is described, information is given only as part of the story, and sometimes details and explanations can be lost, or simply not explored enough, create a sense of confusion in the reader (in this reader anyway).

The failure of the climax (did I miss it?) is just as annoying as the lack of clarity.

For those willing and able to re-read a book this is likely to be one of those books that grows on you with a second or third reading, but I want to enjoy a book on the first read, and don’t want to have to give myself a headache concentrating and working out what every idea is before moving on with the plot. An appendix with explanations might be been a helpful addition.

This book shows massive potential, but feels like an unedited manuscript in need of more explanation. Great cover though, and I’ll likely pick up the second book in the trilogy when it comes out later this year, in the hope that some knowledge of the first book will help.

Morpheus Tales: The Best Weird Fiction, Volume 2!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2012 by stanleyriiks

I know, I’ve been slacking on the reviews recently, but I have a good excuse! I’ve been reading Peter F. Hamilton’s Great North Road, an 1100 page epic SF novel. It’s taken me the last seven weeks to read, in which time I would normally read about seven books! It was huge, and mildly exhausting! I finally finished the book on Monday, and have managed to acquire a copy of Morpheus Tales: The Best Weird Fiction, Volume 2 for review, so that will be appearing shortly.

This is a limited (1000 copies) first edition, and features some of my favourite stories from the second year of Morpheus Tales Magazine, including stories by Ray Garton and Joe R. Lansdale.

The printed version of the book is available to buy now from lulu.com, and will soon be available on Amazon:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/adam-bradley-and-fred-venturini-and-joe-r-lansdale-and-ray-garton/morpheus-tales-the-best-weird-fiction-volume-2/paperback/product-20218078.html

The ebook versions are available from smash words:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/175324?ref=morpheustales

The kindle version of the book is available on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Morpheus-Tales-Fiction-Volume-ebook/dp/B008EDXWA0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340734223&sr=8-1&keywords=morpheus+tales+volume+2

Go get yourself a copy right now, and we can compare notes when the review finally appears!

 

THE DRAGON FACTORY By Jonathan Maberry – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by stanleyriiks

When a colleague asked me what I was reading I had to describe this book as an action-thriller with SF overtones. But that’s like describing the Boeing A380 as a big plane. It barely scratches the surface of this taut sci-fi action thriller.

The DMS (Department of Military Sciences) is the secretist secret government agency there is, and the Vice-President of the United States is tricked into trying to close it down in the belief that the head of the DMS is blackmailing the President (who is currently enduring heart-bypass surgery, leaving the VP in charge). Homeland Security are raiding DMS headquarters across the country and picking up agents.

Joe Ledger, former cop, and DMS agent, is at the grave of his former girlfriend when the agents turn up to collect him. But Joe doesn’t plan on going quietly.

The Jakoby twins are rich and powerful geneticists, turning nature on its head to create their rich customers unique pets, ultimate soldiers and legendary creatures (unicorn, dragons, etc) to hunt.

Cyrus Jakoby, the twins’ father, is also working on a large-scale project. A secretive scheme behind the twins’ backs, adapting existing diseases and blights for use in his Extinction Wave that will wipe out seven eighths of the world’s population. Everything is in place, the one hundred hour clock begins its countdown. Is it too late for anyone to stop it?

This book is just so much fun! Ledger is a broken hero, insightfully fragmented in his reality, in love with his colleague and running hell for leather from crisis to crisis in his attempts to find out what’s going on and stop the murder of several billion people.

The action is intense, half way through the book the climax begins to build with wave after wave of attacks against larger and nastier opponents.

The science is used incredibly well. Maberry makes you believe this could happen.

His first book Patient Zero was a rip-roaring zombie-fest with a brilliant science-based twist that made you believe, and was massively readable, edge of the seat stuff, that I thought would be difficult to follow-up. But Maberry has done us proud, creating another SF-twisted reality that’s equally (and scarily) plausible.

Brilliant devised, intelligently written. A book that you sweeps you up in its evil and twisted reality.

THE VOYAGE OF THE SABLE KEECH By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This is the second book in the Spatterjay series, and sees us returning to the water-filled planet where the Hoopers or Old Captains (near indestructible, near immortal, super-strength men) run the planet, alongside the sentient sails they use for their ships. The waters of Spatterjay are filled with all manner of dangerous fauna, including virus-wielding leeches which burrow into their victims but pass on the virus which causing the superhuman strength and longevity.

It is ten years since the first book ended by riotous climax, and not a great deal has changed. Those familiar with the first novel will find this one remarkably similar, the same characters, the same style, the same snippets to let you know about the wildlife that inhabits the planet, virtually the same plot! The riotous finale where everything all comes together is lacking, as the various plots are this time individually wrapped-up, leaving the reader with an unsatisfactory bump in the excitement, rather than a mountain.

The Sable Keech is a massive ship aiming to re-run the epic journey of its name-sake as he ventured to the place where he was brought back to life using the virus. Bloc, the reification (a kind of technologically undead) in charge of the voyage, employs the old Captains to help out and a Golum sail (a crazy one intent on destroying death) to lead them. But there are also aliens and the deadly creatures of the deep intent on stopping them.

The first two hundred pages of the novel seem to go nowhere, feel like padding and could quiet easily be removed without any ill effect. The final hundred pages see almost a re-run of the climax of the first novel, but spread out so that there is little impact.

The ways in which this novel goes wrong are many: it is too similar to the first book, but fails where the first book succeeded. This isn’t a rubbish book by any means. It’s still pretty good, and only really falls down when compared with The Skinner, the first book in the series. Asher can write, the world of Spatterjay is epically explorable, and the old Captains are like cosmic super-pirates. But this doesn’t have the danger or the anger of The Skinner, despite similar plotting, and we’ve already visited this world. For those who haven’t read The Skinner you’ll enjoy this a great deal more than fans familiar with the first book.

Let’s hope Asher can redeem himself with the third book in the series.

GALAXY IN FLAMES By Ben Counter – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by stanleyriiks

The final instalment in the first trilogy of the epic tale of the Horus Heresy, sees the unleashing of the betrayal that has been building over the two previous books, in a furious battle.

On the planet of Isstvan III the space marines are sent to bring a planet back under the control of the Imperium, but they discover, too late, that they are being sent into a trap that will leave all of them dead.

Horus, the Warmaster, and his brother primarchs and other followers, act brutally to destroy any hope of rebellion against their plotting to take over the Empire and to kill the Emperor.

Loken, Tavitz, and our other heroes land on Isstvan III prepared for battle, but the traitors unload viruses and fire to blanket the planet and destroy everyone.

A brutal brother against brother battle erupts for their very survival, and the survival of the empire.

Counter managed to give this epic account a personal focus, whilst still imbuing it with an action-packed energy we’ve come to love from the previous tales. The Horus Heresy is the jewel in the crown of the Black Library, and they are pouring the talent into it. The story is massive and epic, and one book can barely give you a sense of what is going on, but this is a cracking instalment, all action and packed with death.

Counter produces a novel of integrity, that takes it beyond the simple action battles of other 40K sagas. Massively entertaining, tension-filled and desperately sad. Watching the empire fall apart is a truly torturing experience.

Can’t wait to find out what happens next.