Archive for world

THE TECHNICIAN By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

This is the book that got me reading Asher’s books. Jon Sullivan’s cover of the titular beast is incredible, and his other covers for Asher’s other books are pretty damn good too. Can you pick a book by its cover?

Although this book is set in Asher’s familiar Polity world it is a stand-alone novel and can be read independently. But, if you have read some of his other novels this will inform the backstory of some familiar characters.

Masada is home to the hooders, a set of deadly creatures, the Theocracy (a strictly religious group who have enslaved some of the populous), the gaggleducks, and the Technician, a near mythical creature who not only attacks humans but turns their bodies into works of art.

When the Technician allows one of its victims to live, Jeremiah Tombs, a member of the Theocracy, it changes him in ways that even the advanced technology of the Polity cannot determine.

Twenty years later the Theocracy is no more, Tombs escapes his Polity captors and goes in search of the truth, a band of rebels called the Tidy Squad are out to kill him, and the Technicians is still out hunting…

Apart from that there are war drones, a dragon and his ancestors, a modified human studying the Technician, and alien races that have destroyed themselves to muddy the waters further.

There’s a lot going on here, as there is with most of Asher’s novels. His intricate plots draw you gradually deeper into his worlds. The characters are barely memorable, but it is the story, the plot and the incredibly well crafted world that really drive this novel.

Asher writes proper SF, intelligent, insightful, and passionate. The world he has created in this novel and the other Polity books (and the Scatteray series) are incredibly complex and detailed and yet don’t overwhelm the intense and sometimes complicated plots. The story drives along swiftly, there are multiple layers, and everything comes together in a riveting but mildly disappointing climax. Can any ending really live up to the rest of the novel?

Asher is the master of intelligent SF. The Technician is a great novel to start your Polity education: jump straight in, the water is thrilling.

Among Thieves By Douglas Hulick – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Set in a fantasy world ruled with an immortal Emperor, Drothe is a spy, an intelligence gatherer for one of the largest criminal gangs in the city of Ildrecca. He is desperately trying to find a relic that was stolen on its way to him, and he is entrusted with finding out what is going on in Ten Ways, the worst of the districts of Ildrecca and his former home. But the Grey Princes (secret rulers of the gangs), and the gang warlords are starting to clash, and there’s about to be war in Ten Ways, and despite everything he knows or does Drothe is being dragged right into the middle of it…

Rapiers at the ready, this is a swashbuckling tale of daring do, with a nicely dark aspect of brutal fighting and murder. The world is well set up, the complicated intrigues of the Kin (as the criminals call themselves) manage to build towards an exciting climax that doesn’t let down. There’s plenty of action, enough of a plot to keep things interesting, some great characters, and the writer isn’t afraid to put our hero in danger or hurt him, and in turn us. Also, Drothe is not your traditional hero, and very little is black and white in this world, the complications making decisions very difficult, and only drawing us readers further in.

Early reservations that there wasn’t enough description of this world aside, I had a great time, absolutely enjoying the fighting, the lying, the battles, the cheating, the schemes and secrets, and the magic. The characters excel and the clever plotting keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what will happen next. This is an exciting world to explore.

Hulick has done a fine job with this book, and hopefully a sequel will follow shortly as I can’t wait to find out what happens next in a story rich with even more promise.

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.

ALOHA FROM HELL By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I hate Richard Kadrey. I hate his books. I hate Sandman Slim, one of the greatest anti-heroes to ever be captured on the page.

Kadrey writes books I wish I’d written. He had created a world and characters that I can only dream of creating. He has plots that make me want to read the whole book in one sitting because I want to find out what happens so bad. But also I want to read slowly, to savour every sentence, and respect every line because there is such a wit and darkness in these pages.

This is the third book in the amazing Sandman Slim series, featuring Slim who is a magician returned from hell after turning monster fighter and demon killer. He lives in an LA underworld ruled by Sub Rosa (old magical) families and factions. And finds himself involved as a bodyguard to Lucifer, a private-detective and monster hunter. Slim is my hero. The dude rocks my world, and I wish, I so wish, that he was mine. We would have such great adventure together. But what am I saying? We do have such great adventures together, but that bugger Kadrey creates them! I don’t want to share, I want Slim all to myself.

The third book in the series see Slim having to head down to Hell as his nemesis is having success building an army of hellions and plans to head up to Heaven to destroy it, and then destroy the rest of the world. Of course, there’s excommunicated priests, demons and gods, magic, fighting, betrayal, lies, and all manner of excitement to get in the way of things moving along smoothly.

Slim narrates with a unique voice that entertains with a brisk pace and style that you will find hard to match. The closest comparable voice stylistically would be Joe Lansdale’s East Texas drawl. But Kadrey goes further, where most are afraid to go. He seems unafraid to deal with difficult and controversial issues such as religion and faith, all the while having a wicked sense of humour, and one hellish, fetid darkness that sucks the reader in.

Like the very best fantasists, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman at the top of their game, Kadrey creates a magnificent world that drips reality, characters that ooze personality, and plots that truly capture the imagination.

The third book in the series continues on the success of the previous two books. You must read the Sandman Slim novels. You MUST read one of them.

I hate Richard Kadrey, I want to be Richard Kadrey. I love Sandman Slim. I look forward to most adventures together.

Darkly brilliant.

Demented genius.

DESCENT OF ANGELS By Mitchel Scanlon – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by stanleyriiks

This is not your normal Horus Heresy novel. It doesn’t read like a Horus Heresy novel at all, and by the end I was wondering how this fitted into the massive tale of betrayal and treachery. Having read all the other books in the series so far this came as a bit of a shock. I realise that since the original trilogy many of the books have told related but connected only marginally tales of the Heresy.

This book tells the tale of Caliban, a feudal-like world, and former Terra colony that has been out of touch with Earth for hundreds of years.

This feudal land is a dangerous place of deadly flora and fauna, and the knights of the orders that run the world have had enough and set out to rid the world of the beasts. Lion El’Jonson, a strange and mighty warrior, mysteriously found deep in the jungles of Caliban, takes charge of the largest order and sets his sights on removing the danger of the beasts.

Then the Imperial fleet arrives, after almost two hundred pages and the world of Caliban is gradually reconverted to the Empire, whether they like it or not.

This is a tale of friendship and brotherhood, and is a riveting. It shows a different side of the Empire we are familiar with. For the most part this doesn’t feel like an 40K universe book at all. The feudal world of Caliban is remarkably well portrayed, and two young trainee-knights are our protagonists, and we follow them as they struggled with becoming knights, and becoming men. It’s a quite fascinating tale, a fantasy that actually slides perfectly into the 40K universe. Brilliantly inventive for the series, but does it actually fit into the Horus Heresy sequence? And the next book in the series, Legion by Dan Abnett, doesn’t follow on the story of the Dark Angels either… It’s a perfectly good book, exciting, adventurous, cleverly plotted and inventive, and as a stand-alone novel is works well within the 40K universe and offers something different. My problems rests entirely on it’s fit into the Horus Heresy. Otherwise its one of the best 40K novels.

THE COLD COMMANDS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I read the first book in this series around two years ago, and you know what, I can barely remember any of it. I remember the three main characters (after my memory is jogged reading about them again), who are all here, present and correct. I vaguely remember feeling like the book ended on a cliff-hanger and feeling a little bit cheated, but I still enjoyed it enough to put the second book in the series (trilogy?) on my Christmas list for Santa to buy me. So in amongst my stacks of drugs and porn and alcohol (ok, so it was pretty much all books that Santa brought me!), I found this SF/fantasy novel (and it’s got a nice cover which always draws me in) and sat down to read it.

Ringil Eskiath is a true antihero, although we find him rescuing slaves after his cousin was imprisoned by a slave-trader. He’s a tough, no-nonsense S.O.B. who demands your attention, a mean man with a massive alien sword.

Archeth is a half-alien female who works for the new emperor, a paranoid young man intent on ridding his empire of enemies by having them flayed alive by octopi.

Egar the Dragonbane is having an affair with the wife of a war hero, but his adventures into a religious fortress will bring the three old friends back together, whether they like it or not, with magic, death, and betrayal to get in their way.

This book (I think like the first, my memory is not what it once was!) takes a long time to gather speed, there are almost three hundred pages of build-up as the story meanders along, setting everything up for the inevitable climax. When it does comes there’s plenty of action and intrigue, although Ringal is a little too superheroic and never appears in danger of being hurt, let alone losing a fight. He’s a bit too invincible, like Judge Dredd with a sword.

Morgan’s writing is good, he manages to draw you in without you realising, the atmosphere and world are vividly portrayed, but there’s a lingering sense of missing something. Perhaps it’s been too long between instalments, but I felt like I missed the oft-referred to war (did it appear in the first book?).

Despite confusing the hell out of me, the grey lands are strange and mysterious and make everything seem a bit too easy at the end. I couldn’t help but enjoy Egar’s tough steppe barbarian, Archeth’s frustrated diplomat and Ringal’s menacing killer. The characters are really what make this book, and Morgan has done a first rate job with them. I’ll be back for more despite my misgivings, fantasy doesn’t get much more original or compelling than this.

SON OF HEAVEN By David Wingrove – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by stanleyriiks

In 2043 the datscape (the new financial system the world is built on) is attacked by viruses that destroy everything. A series of assassinations, including the President of the United States, follow in the wake of the massive financial catastrophe. Society as we know it is destroyed as the value of money becomes nothing. Twenty years later England is a rural backwater, a middle-ages-like world of barter and trade, where you can only trust your neighbour and visitors are shot before they steal or rape or kill you.

Jake was there at the beginning, he was witness to the datscape’s destruction, he was one of those instrumental in the attempts to avoid its end. For that his friends and family were slaughtered and he barely escaped with his life, taken in by a small town near the ruins of Corfe castle. But their fearful and desperate lives are going to get much worse and the feared trouble will return once again to turn their lives upside down…

The more exciting parts of the book are the destructive flashbacks and the later section where the original danger returns. The rest of the book is a little too safe for a post-apocalyptic world, it’s more a rural idyl.

This is the first novel in a twenty book series, and it feels like it. Its epic story isn’t fully revealed, but we get a hint towards the end, the majority of the book acts as introduction, giving us the background of our protagonist and the world in which he finds himself.

More rural fantasy than SF for the most part, it’s safe to ssume that there will be moretroduction, giving us the background of oassume that later novels will involve much more SF related material.

Not a bad novel, but disappointing, and I doubt I will bother with the next nineteen novels. Judging from this one, it could have been written as a trilogy with some good editing.