Archive for sci fi

SCOURGE THE HERETIC By Sandy Mitchell – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I’m not often disgusted, very rarely so upset and astounded, but having just finished this book, I have to say I am astonished and disgusted and confused.

You see, this isn’t a book. It’s half a book. Except that nowhere on this book does it say it’s half a book, there is no indication at all anywhere on the cover, or on the pages within, that this is the first of two books. One story.

But is most certainly is.

As I approached the end of the book, I was thinking there wasn’t much room to finish the story. As I read the final few pages I wondered what had happened to half the plot because it clearly wasn’t finished. It was only half way through. Then upon reading the Epilogue the confusion grew as I realised this wasn’t an Epilogue at all, but should more appropriately have been called the Prologue of the next instalment.

I feel tricked. I feel dirty and I feel used. This isn’t clever marketing by Gamesworkshop, although I did buy the second book in this “series”, it’s put me off buying any more of their books.

This is hideously cheeky and just plain wrong. One book, one story. If you want to do a trilogy, a series, or a multi-part set, you put something that identifies the book as such on the fucking cover. I am outraged!

The most annoying thing is that I actually liked this book.

Unlike Ravenor and Eisenhorn, this story of the Inquisition, the ruthless enforcers of the Emperor’s word, follows the Inquisitor Finurbi’s team of investigators as they attempt to track down a highly organised group of heretics who are smuggling psychers off-world, and a group of chaos-worshipers. The investigators have to split up to follow their separate leads, two of them actually about to be smuggled off-world when the book ends.

This isn’t a bad book, it’s nice to see the 40K universe further expanded away from the superhero Space Marines. The characters in the book are much more “normal”, and have the traits and weaknesses modern readers expect. This isn’t quite Eisenhorn, and doesn’t have the powerful action of Dan Abnett’s novels, but it’s still pretty exciting stuff. The book kept me interested enough to order the second book, despite the complete and utterly ineptitude of the marketing department and their failure to realise how much of a gross error they’ve made by not stating that this is book one of two.

Although looking forward to the second book in the series and completing the story I started, this still leaves me with a very sour taste, and I feel manipulated into buying a second book. If I’d have known I probably wouldn’t have bought either of them.

Gamesworkshop rip-off, makes me feel abused and cheated, and outweighs any enjoyment I got from the book. A shame, a sad, desperate and pathetic shame.

FALSE GODS By Graham McNeill – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The second instalment of the epic Horus Heresy legend sees the beginnings of rebellion. A betrayal by the commanding officer on Davin brings Horus and the Mournival (his elite champions and advisors) to the moon of Davin on a quest for revenge and justice. But they all get more than they bargained for, the moon of Davin, the betrayer, it is all a part of an intricate plot. A plot to kill Horus.

When Horus is injured and on his death-bed, desperate measures must be taken to save the most important soldier in the Universe. Unfortunately they are left with only one choice: to take Horus to Davin’s surface and leave him in the Snake Temple to be administered to by its priests. Despite the entire idea being completely against the Emperor’s teachings, the desperation of those left to make the decision means that any measures will be taken to save Horus’ life.

Up to this point we have the traditional war-torn savagery of the Warhammer 40K universe. But as Horus is on his death-bed, we have a kind of A Christmas Carol scene where Horus is visited by a ghost to be shown the future of the universe to try to convert him over to the dark side. As this is the turning point of the entire Warhammer universe it just feels weak, insubstantial and not entirely convincing. After this halfway point not much happens, the intrigues continue to build, but most of the plot of this novel has already been told. The thing is, it’s still gripping. The petty intrigues, and lies and schemes keep your attention. This is not the blockbuster of the first book, but a good solid second instalment (similar to The Empire Strikes Back), which can’t help but fail in its turnabout of the Warmaster, but other than that continues to entertain.

Can’t wait for the third instalment.

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan

Ringil is an aging hero, hiding out in the country years after his glorious victory at Gallows Gap which earned him a reputation that he’s living on, where he helped save the world from the scaled invasion of the lizardmen. He enjoys his life of drunkedness and having sex with boys. Your quintessential hero, sort of. But he’s given the task of finding his cousin, a job he can’t refuse as it’s his mother asking for the favour. So Ringil barges back into the city where his father rules, intent on making as much trouble as he can whilst visiting home, and goes in search of his cousin, slaughtering the slave peddlers as he goes (his cousin having been sold into slavery by a ruined husband).

There are a couple of others, a savage dragon-slayer whose brothers gang up with a shaman to depose him as clan leader, and a Kiraith, an ancient and alien race that fled from the world many years ago, leaving only Archeth the half-breed.

Ringil is really the hero here, although almost equal time is given to the other two. The story is fairly basic sword and sorcery, except that the sorcery is vaguely alien in nature and feels very SF in style.

Ringil is great fun, and he really should have taken a much larger part in the book. The other alien race, the dwenda, are strange and their world is weird, taking us away from the story to bring in a larger world invasion plot that is just an excuse for a big battle at the end. The dwenda don’t really fit, it feels like the SF elements are a bit forced.

This should have been an epic tale of brutality and debauchery, instead it’s finished fairly quickly, with the characters just about introduced. The sequel is already underway, and hopefully the second novel will see a lot more Ringil action.

SLANT By Greg Bear – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Midway through the 21st century there is a huge reliance on psycho-therapy using nano-technology monitors to keep society sane and well-adjusted.

A billionaire commits suicide after spending an evening with a Yox (latest immersive technology) pornstar and escort.

A man is regularly visiting the Omphalos, a strange building filled with the dead who are waiting to be brought back to life when the technology arrives.

Jill is a Thinker, a massive super intelligent computer.

Mary Choy is a Seattle Police Detective trying to find out the truth about the billionaire’s suicide.

Then people’s therapy monitors start to break down, sending society in a paroxysm of depression and mental instability, a group of criminals plans to invade Ompholas and steal the treasures within, the pornstar is attacked, Jill is hacked, and Mary Choy starts to literally fall apart.

This is what SF is all about. Great ideas and good plotting. The characters are merely there to give us some focus, not really to get attached to. There are some really good ideas, most of which aren’t outdated despite this book being ten years old. The plotting is where the book really shows its strength, as the various separate strands come together in a complex climax. OK, so you can see where most of this is coming from before the end, and there aren’t really any surprises, in fact there nothing really spectacular at all. This is good solid SF, some nice ideas, some good plotting, decent characters, but nothing special, nothing memorable. All the right ingredients, but really nothing to make it stand out.

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.