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Preview: State of Review - Ty's Book Review

State of Review



Truthiness. Epic Literature Reviews Without The BS.



Updated: 2017-09-05T19:08:12.980-07:00

 



Press Release: Anarchy Books

2011-11-15T06:46:00.660-08:00

ANARCHY BOOKS PRESS RELEASESaturday 19th November is a date for your diaries, with Anarchy Books releasing not one wholesome SF novel, but two!First comes New York Nights by SF Heavyweight, Eric Brown."New York 2040 is a city of the lost. So, a good place to work in Missing Persons. But business is not so good that Hal Halliday can forget his sister, burned alive when she was a child. Now, only VR offers the chance to bring her back. The future may yet allow Hal to live in the past - if he can survive his next job..."Described by Peter F. Hamilton as "the name to watch in SF", and Brown's novel HELIX described by Stephen Baxter as, "a classic concept - a built world to dwarf Rama and Ringworld - a setting for a hugely imaginative adventure. Helix is the very DNA of true sf. This is the rediscovery of wonder", this first digital release of New York Nights is available as a PDF, EPUB or MOBI format, for the low price of £1.99. Artwork by Jethro Lentle. Check out www.anarchy-books.com.The second “SF Saturday” release emerges from the crazy imagination of famous tattoo artist Dan Henk.The Black Seas of Infinity is Dan Henk’s debut novel, and what a powerhouse of action SF it is!“Visions of pulp era heroes fill his thoughts. Taking advanced physics, he dreams big, but harsh reality bites as he grows up, and he resigns himself to building surveillance drones for the military. After a brief probative period, he’s unexpectedly moved into the clandestine world of investigating crashed alien craft. Fascinated beyond anything he thought possible, it’s a dream come true but his lack of social skills get him fired. However, he's seen too much – and a year later returns to pull off a bloody heist... Fleeing into the woods with the military in hot pursuit, he makes a mad scramble up the coast. It’s only then he discovers the world has grown strange. Businesses are closed. Highways deserted. The US has become fractured... Trigger happy locals and violent militias are only the beginning. Death, madness, and the unwelcome return of creatures from beyond this world await...”Think X-Files crossed with Alastair Reynolds and you’ll begin to get a picture of where Dan’s stunning original SF writing will lead you...The Black Seas of Infinity is available in PDF, EPUB or MOBI flavours, for the low low price of £1.99. Artwork and internal illustrations by Dan Henk. Check out www.anarchy-books.com.[...]



REVIEW: The Metalmark Contract by David Batchelor

2011-08-19T20:48:00.022-07:00

The Metalmark Contract by David BatchelorPublishing information: Kindle, Paperback; 250 pagesPublisher: Black Rose Writing; 3 March 2011ISBN 10: 1612960111ISBN 13: 978-1612960111ASIN: B004Y60T3ESeries: Book OneCopy: Provided by authorReviewer: TysonSynopsis "The alien Metalmark offered mankind a starship and its advanced technology in a trade for the rights to planet Mercury and moon Triton. What could go wrong? But his appearance sent the nations of Earth into turmoil as many people suspected danger and a trick. Our dreams of futuristic breakthroughs made Metalmark a celebrity in the West, but inflamed the Islamic world. A scientist with the space agency and a CIA spy became two of Metalmark's defenders. Our chance to join superior beings and travel the stars depended on the clash of futurists with ancient traditions. Could he sell us the means to a quantum jump in progress? But . . . he wanted Mercury and Triton for habitats where his species could spawn . . . what did that mean?"It has been a while since I have read a first contact novel. So, when presented with the chance to read the latest first contact novel by David Batchelor, I jumped at the chance.The Metalmark Contract is a frustrating book. Not so much because it is poorly written, but due to the fact that many of the decisions made by mankind in the novel makes you want to stand up and shout that they are making a terrible mistake. When the alien named Metalmark comes to Earth requesting to meet with the United Nations to engage in trade, he asks for the planet Mercury and the moon Triton for spawning grounds. While our leaders first question why he requires those two heavenly bodies it is soon forgotten. They ask for as much information on the two space bodies but then quickly forget it when events start to spin out of their control. I would like to have seen some more discussion or details on the two planets and their advantages to keeping them, but once Metalmark shows Earth his amazing technology they forget that they may need Mercury or Triton. It really frustrated me as I am not sure that a contract like this would have been ramrodded into law so quickly. China seems to be the only country who is leery of what Metalmark is asking for and what he is giving in return. The President of the United States is true to form and plays the part of a puppet only it seems that the alien has managed to play the strings to perfection.Metalmark is very interesting, without giving away too much about him (you will have to read it to find out more about him). He is very charismatic and has definitely done his homework on humanity. His true motives are hidden from everyone, he also does a great job of deflecting any and all information that humans try to glean from him about his origins or his species. It probably helps that he has a CIA agent and NASA scientist doing their utmost to shelter and protect him from any real negative publicity. While there is a medium-sized cast in this novel, they are juggled quite well and Batchelor does a great job of introducing them and keeping them interesting throughout the story. They also do a decent amount of growing as the novel continues.The end of The Metalmark Contract leaves many questions to be answered and everyone's fate is left up in the air. But for a first novel it is quite good. It only lagged in one or two places and that was to set things up for the next event. The Metalmark Contract is an interesting premise as first contact is based on a need of commerce instead of friendship or the advancement of knowledge. There is also a lot of mystery involved in the novel as we are never fully told what "spawning" means and what it implies. Metalmark's physiology is also interesting and much different from what we usually encounter in science fiction novels. The Metalmark Contract is a fun read and sadly a quick read. You will also have to wait until the next novel is completed before you find out more about the implications of the[...]



REVIEW:Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

2011-08-08T23:30:02.876-07:00

Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel KayPublishing information: Paperback; 528 pagesPublisher: Eos; 01 July 2005ISBN 10: 0060733497ISBN 13: 9780060733490StandaloneCopy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonBack of the Book: " The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite Empire has splintered into decadent city-states lead by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan – poet, diplomat; soldier – until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites’ most celebrated – and feared – military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve – for a time – the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate – and increasingly torn by her feelings – is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.Hauntingly evocative of Medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply compelling story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake – or destroy – a world."I have a few Guy Gavriel Kay titles in the pile and I was told by my fellow Speculative Book Reviewers that The Lions of Al-Rassan is the best place to start. Since this book has been staring at me for nearly a year, I thought that it was time I finally man up and see what Mr. Kay was all about.The three main characters in The Lions of Al-Rassan represent the three religious factions: Asharites, Jaddites, and Kindath. These three groups represent Islam, Christians, and Jews. The three characters are all very charismatic and are considered to be the perfect specimen of their given factions. Ammar ibn Khairan is a well-known warrior and poet who represents the Asharites/Muslims, Rodrigo Belmonte (El Cid) is the champion for the Christians/Jaddites, and Jehane is the beautiful and intelligent Kindath/Jewish doctor that the two men fall in love with. I did enjoy each of the characters and it was refreshing to see the Asharites/Muslims shown in a favorable light even if it was a more romanticized version. Ammar was a character that you could respond to. Belmonte was also a great character, except he also had a huge flaw, in that he was married to one, if not the most beautiful woman in the realm and he found himself in a love triangle with Ammar and Jehane. This was a lot to swallow as his introduction showed him as honorable and loving no one else aside from his wife. For the story to work you had to buy into his love for another woman. The other woman, Jehane, was also a great character. She was very strong and did a great job of moving the story forward. Even the supporting cast had great parts to play as the story unfolded. Kay does an excellent job with characters, although there is a small need to stretch the imagination and buy into Belmonte's love for Jehane but as I said it is a small stretch even if it tarnishes his honorable image.The world building is a little less than average as Kay has taken medieval Spain and renamed all of the cities and locations to his world. The map in the beginning of the novel should give you a clue as to what time of topography you are going to encounter in the book. For me I simply pictured Don Quixote. The Lions of Al-Rassan has very little magic within its pages. There is one child who has visions of the future which is more of a plot device than anything else. The book is more of Kay's take on the world at that time in history without actually calling it Spain.The Lions of Al-Rassan is a tad slow as there is a lot of g[...]



REVIEW: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

2011-08-04T12:10:03.090-07:00

Prince of Thorns by Mark LawrencePublishing Information: Hardback; 336 pages (373 pages in ARC)Publisher: Voyager; 4 August 2011ISBN 10: 0441020321ISBN 13: 978-0007423293Series: Book one of The Broken EmpireCopy Provided by publisherSynopsis: "The thorns taught him a lesson in blood...Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him."TYSONPrince of Thorns first grabbed my attention when I saw the cover. A hooded warrior amid a battlefield strewn with the recent dead. While we have seen a lot of our mysteriously hooded figures, this one really drew me in. Then I read what the book was about and I had a really good feeling that I was going to enjoy whatever was contained within the pages of the novel.Prince of Thorns does its best to tell two stories. One that progresses the story and the other tells us how our hero came to be. Jorg, our protagonist has not had an easy life. It starts out with all the pleasantries of one noble born, but quickly veers to a life of death and mayhem. Jorg's most formative years should have been spent under the expert tutelage of the king but instead he has gone seeking revenge and has learned from the worst of mankind. He is ruthless and will use anyone to further his personal goals. He is not a warrior, but a killer. He is not above sacrificing his own men if it means a quick means to his aspirations. I found myself really liking Jorg even when he was at his most terrifying. The way his mind works was both entertaining and impressive. I could imagine how his own men, who towered over him, would stay on their toes lest they became the next corpse. The fact that some of his men stood at seven feet tall and never turned their back on him, for fear he would take their head spoke volumes.A few other characters were also very interesting. Rike and Makin. Rike was is described as a massive killing machine with little or no morals. I saw him as a juggernaut and it was interesting to see how he interacted with Jorg throughout the book. Makin was another character that I liked. He was the white knight that had screwed up and was doing his best to guide Jorg and make up for his past errors. To a certain degree they exemplified the two sides of Jorg's personality and they also complimented him very well. There is a large cast of characters that are apart of Jorg's group known as the Brotherhood and many of them stand out. Since it starts out as a large group many of them go unnamed and it was one of my minor complaints. Lawrence has a lot of death in the pages of Prince of Thorns and they take place on both sides of the battles. Many of the brotherhood die and it doesn't really impact the story simply because they are a name or empty suit and nothing else. We only learn their names when they fall in battle. Of course Lawrence does manage to kill off a many of the secondary characters as well. No one is truly safe in Prince of Thorns but many of the early deaths do not mean much as they were n[...]



REVIEW: Skywatcher by Jon Connington

2011-07-25T23:28:00.278-07:00

Skywatcher by Jon ConningtonPublishing information: Paperback (proof copy) 324 pagesPublisher: CreateSpace; 27 Sept 2010ISBN 10: 145384435XISBN 13: 978-1453844359Series: book 2 of 2Copy: Provided by author version was a proof additionReviewer: TysonBack of the Book "Armies gather on the horizon. A world on the edge of destruction A hero faces the ultimate choice.Driven onward by his quest for revenge, Macsen has come the Kingdom of Audran, There he joins with the Order of the Skywatchers to bring down Goren, the mage responsible for the destruction of his village.Armies gather in the wilds of the Upper Airs, as Goren readies the final step of his plan to destroy the world and then remake it in his image.Battle rages in the killing skies, swords and magic clash. And the fate of the world lies in the hands of one man.SKYWATCHER: the thrilling conclusion of The Storm at the Center of the World!"Not long ago Speculative Book Review was approached by Jon Connington to review his first novel Field of Fire, the majority of us really enjoyed what we read and were dying to see the conclusion to his series. Luckily Connington approached us again to review his second and final book in the series, Skywatcher.When I read Field of Fire there were a lot of unanswered questions such as what keeps the world afloat and how do the flying ships stay in the air. I was delighted to find out how both were possible but they were also a little bit of a let down and the reasons for both were a little too quickly explained without further information. While it may have slowed down the pacing of the book, I still would have liked to have learned more about how these things were possible. In truth, aside from learning these two facts there was little world building in the book. Considering the potential that Connington presented in the first book I had hoped that he would take advantage of the massive world, but unfortunately he did not.As Skywatcher opens up I was a little disoriented and lost as you are swept up in events. Not a lot of what occurs in the opening scene makes a lot of sense in the beginning but as the book unfolds it becomes more apparent as to what has happened and why it occurred. The problem that I had with Skywatcher is the pacing. The book seems disjointed at times, as I read it it felt rushed, as if the author was hurrying to complete the novel without filling us in on some vitally important things. There were a few holes that I hope are made clear when the final version is released.We also return to the life of Macsen, our hero and even he did not seem to be the good guy he appeared to be from the first novel. There was also a major love sub-plot that just never seemed to get off the ground and was a little confusing. It seemed very forced as there was no chemistry before the actual encounter where the two "fall in love." Again, I felt as if it was due to the fact that the story felt rushed. Had Skywatcher taken its time and let things develop more naturally, I think it not have been so muddled. It is not that the characters were so bad, just that it did not feel natural.When compared to Field of Fire, Skywatcher is not as good. The pacing and characters did not flow as well as they did in the debut novel. The end was also a little disappointing. However, the end was fitting. Skywatcher is a decent novel and while I had a proof copy, the final version should prove to be a decent end to the series.[...]



REVIEW: Wintertide by Michael J Sullivan (Kindle Edition)

2011-07-18T23:27:00.843-07:00

Wintertide by Michael J SullivanPublishing Information: KindlePublisher: Ridan Publishing; 1 October 2010ISBN 10: 0982514581ISBN 13: 978-0982514580ASIN: B00452VB5WSeries: The Riyria Revelations Book 5Copy: Provided by PublisherReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "A FORCED WEDDING. A DOUBLE EXECUTION. TWO THIEVES HAVE OTHER PLANS.The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide the empress will be married. Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar will be publically executed. Then the empress will suffer a fatal accident leaving the empire in the hands of the new emperor. It will be a perfect day. There is only one problem-Royce and Hadrian have finally found the lost heir."A year ago today we started Speculative Book Review with the first review of Michael Sullivan's The Emerald Storm, book four in the Riyria Revelations series. It seems only fitting that we review the fifth book in the series, Wintertide, on our anniversary.With each new installment in the Riyria Revelations the characters just get better. Wintertide is no exception. This addition focuses is on a much smaller scale than the previous novels as it all takes place in one location, for the most part. As things took a turn for the worst at the end of The Emerald Storm. Royce and Hadrian go their separate ways for the majority of the novel in order to take on their personal quests.In Wintertide, we head to the Empire's capital, Aquesta, for the celebration known as Wintertide. As Royce and Hadrian enter the city there is a lot of great characters introduced. We meet a few street smart kids that take on a more important role and and also provide some levity to the story. With their introduction we also catch a glimpse about what life is like for the underprivileged and just how important the world's rulers are to the down trodden. The conversations the kids have when plotting their crimes and how to handle the city's newcomers was a lot of fun.We also have a few recurring characters take on a larger role in Wintertide, they tend to help out our main characters in one shape or another. The story of Hadrian's taking on the role of a recently dubbed knight is interesting as he must learn the ways of a noble and the warfare that takes place during the gatherings and royal occasions are a lot of fun to read as the snubbing that takes place is highly amusing and intelligent. Royce's story is very minor and he really only shows up at the end; however, we he does his actions speak louder than words and the ending sets the stage for the final book. His story has him confronting a friend from the past and while I could see it coming from the previous books, I was not prepared for what happens in Wintertide. His role while minor, has a dramatic impact on how this story comes to a conclusion.As with all of Sullivan's books in the Riyria Revelations series, Wintertide can be read as an individual book, but not recommend it as you miss out on a lot of the little stuff and many of the holes are plugged as we venture forth in this book. For those waiting for the last book in the series you will have a somewhat longer wait than expected as Orbit has recently purchased the series and will be releasing it as a trilogy. Percepliquis, will be contained in the third book in the trilogy. While I have spoken to Mrs. Sullivan she has stated that they may be able to do a limited run on the final book in the series and if you go to Michael Sullivan's website you may be able to complete your collection with all of Sullivan's amazing covers. Wintertide is highly recommended and should be congratulated on his recent success with Orbit purchasing his series.[...]



Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve Maslakovic

2011-07-11T23:21:01.621-07:00

Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve MaslakovicPublishing Information: KindlePublisher: AmazonEncore; 22 February 2011ISBN 10: 1935597345ISBN 13: 978-1935597346ASIN: B003WQAZ3QStandaloneCopy: Provided by PublisherReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "On a foggy Monday in 1986, the universe suddenly, without warning, bifurcated. Fast-forward to 35 years later: Felix Sayers is a culinary writer living in San Francisco of Universe A who spends his days lunching at Coconut Café and dreaming of penning an Agatha Christie-style mystery. But everything changes when his Aunt Henrietta dies, leaving Felix a photograph of his father and himself--dated ten days before Felix was born. It can only mean one thing: Felix has an 'alter' in Universe B. Panicked that his mystery novel may exist already, Felix crosses to San Francisco B and proceeds to flagrantly violate the rules of both worlds by snooping around his alter's life. But when he narrowly escapes a hit-and-run, it becomes clear that someone knows he's crossed over... and whoever it is isn't happy about it. Now Felix must uncover the truth about his alter, the events of one Monday, and a wayward rubber duck before his time in both worlds runs out."When I received Regarding Ducks and Universes I really had no idea what to expect. The blurb made is sound like a humorous romp with the feel of Christopher Moore. to a certain extent, it is. But what I ended up getting was a light mystery more in the vein of China Mielville.When we start the book we are in a transporter that allows individuals to travel from Universe A to Universe B. Neither universe is ours although both have a striking resemblance. However, Universe A relies on computers and has a serious inflation problem and Universe B still contains books and personal motor vehicles. Each universe was unique and I found myself being drawn into both of them without really realizing what was happening. Before I knew it, I was hunting for more of the little things to see how they compared to each other and our own universe. I also was looking for clues to the mystery the novel was attempting to solve.Felix A (from Universe A) is our main character and from the moment we are introduced to him, he quickly comes off as a very real individual with real concerns and feelings. The rest of the characters do a decent job of rounding out the cast and some are wacky but overall they all add to the story. Felix A is a bored to death writer who dreams of writing a mystery novel and hopes to find out more about his double (Felix B) and to see if his double leads a better life than he does and if he has been beaten to the punch about his novel.Another interesting thing about the two universes was how they came to be and how one could travel and communicate between the two. The two universes have a privacy law that far exceeds anything we have here in our universe and really holds the two universes together and to a certain degree, apart. The whole same yet different concept was explored in Mielville's The City and The City and Regarding Ducks and Universes is similar yet, much easier to take in. The rules are quickly established and then the characters look for ways to turn it to their advantage or in some cases blatantly disregard it.There are many humorous incidents and observations within Regarding Ducks and Universes, which offer a few light-hearted moments. There are a few science fictional elements that make up the story but the core of the story is a mystery. As Felix A (from Universe A) and Felix B (from Universe B) work with and against each other to help different organizations find out just what event lead to the two (nearly) identical universes to become (slightly) altered. I really had no idea just what to expect when I started reading Regarding Ducks and Universes and found myself enjoying the adventure and mystery [...]



REVIEW: The Immune by Doc Lucky Meisenheimer

2011-07-04T23:19:00.867-07:00

The Immune by Doc Lucky MeisenheimerPublishing Information: ARC Paperback; 348 pagesPublisher: LJS&S Publishing; 13 May 2011ISBN 10: 0966761227ISBN 13: 9780966761221StandaloneCopy: Provided by PublisherReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "A biological crisis of epic proportions threatens the world. Genetically manufactured creatures, named airwars, attack and kill at random. Despite having captured and sequestered the airwar's creator, a hastily formed world government appears more effective in consolidating power than managing the crisis. Hope emerges when a navy admiral discovers there are individuals born genetically immune to the deadly stings of the creatures. As the "immunes" struggle to protect humanity, they bemoan escalating governmental control. There is, however, one key "immune" with the intelligence and leadership to look beyond the crisis. As the government unfolds its secret plans to end the crisis, the future of humanity may well rest on his shoulders."Not knowing anything about the author or the book when it reached my doorstep, I had no idea what to expect when I began to read The Immune. The cover is a little campy, but I have to admit I kind of like it. The novel starts out in a rather serene situation until strange floating jellyfish known as Airwars start appearing around the globe. I really enjoyed the build up to the "first contact." We spend some time with our protagonist (later known to the world as "The Immune") and got a feel for the world before everything changes. This also did a great job of setting things up for all of the United Nations changes that rapidly come to become world-wide law.One of the most enjoyable aspects to The Immune was when chaos begins to spread across the globe and the world seems to change overnight due to a quick acting multi-national group. At times Meisenheimer has some really bleak and dark moments in human history occur. There were a few times where it did not quite hit the mark but still manages to get us to believe in the swift policy changes. Meisenheimer also give you an opportunity to think about national governments and world governing bodies as well as various other political ideas and concepts. He does not browbeat you, but I get the feeling our author has a few libertarian leanings. If fact, I could be wrong as the way in which he presents them is more in the vein of devil's advocate. I really enjoyed it as it got me to thinking about many of the ideas he brought up in the book as they all play a major role in how the world shift when a world-wide crisis occurs without warning.However, the biggest thrill was how the book loved to use PR or Public Relations to sway the public to either go along with what the government's plans or to single out cells of hold outs who refuse to go with what the UN has deemed required. The propaganda and its uses are interesting and a huge plot point in the book which was nicely done and did a fairly good job of keeping me off-balance.Through out The Immune, Meisenheimer weaves an intricate tale of characters and events that all build up towards a major ending. Except it was not the ending I was expecting. Just when I thought I knew who and why the Airwars appeared I was stunned to find out I was completely wrong. It is rare to find a book that manages to pull an ace from its sleeve and catch me unawares and I found that I liked it. The book felt a little too predictable and then the rug was pulled out from under me, I liked the fact that I was wrong in my prediction. Once the real conspiracy was uncovered it was resolved a little too quickly but with the big reveal there was very little more to do than deal directly with the new knowledge. However, it would have been nice to have a little bit more of the real cover up as it came from left field and was completely unexpected.The Immune is a ni[...]



REVIEW: Pink Noise: A Posthuman Tale by Leonid Korogodski

2011-06-27T23:17:00.760-07:00

Pink Noise: A Posthuman Tale by Leonid KorogodskiPublishing Information: Kindle/PDF; 192 pagesPublisher: Silverberry Publishing; 29 August 2010ISBN 10: 0984360824ISBN 13: 978-0984360826ASIN:B004BLINMQStandaloneCopy: Provided by AuthorReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "One of the best brain doctors of his time, Nathi lost his own brain five centuries ago when he became a posthuman. He is now called upon to save a comatose girl. The damage is extensive, so he decides to map his own mind into her brain in order to replace the damaged part. But something unexpected awaits him within the girl's brain. She is a carrier of a Wish Fairy, an enigmatic sentient cyberbeing whose only purpose is to kill the Wish, a virus used to enslave all posthuman minds, including Nathi's. Liberated, Nathi forms a symbiotic union with the girl, discovers the true cause of her brain injury, and finds a way to break out of the Castle, their high-tech prison, and into the Martian polar night. But once outside, the real chase begins. It is a battle that must be fought both in the physical world and that of the mind."Pink Noise is an interesting tale, but unfortunately one I found difficult to follow. It deals with the mind more than the body and a future that is very alien to one you would expect. With the United States finally going to Mars but quickly losing interest after they get there only to have the Africans colonizing the red world. As I read Pink Noise I had a hard time keeping up with the background and what was going on with the current story.There is a lot of technobabble that takes some getting use to and the pdf copy that I was given had many concepts, descriptions, and guides in the margins of the book to help you stumble along as you read. Nathi was an interesting character as he is a brain stored in digital form and he continues to live well past the time most mortals would have lived. He does his best to save a comatose girl but along the way he gets much more than he bargained for. Nathi was easy to like but very difficult to decipher. You could tell that even though he was now a humanized computer program, he was lonely and looking for someone to share his existence with.A lot of the story deals with Nathi saving the young girl but the reader must also pay attention to the clues that are given about the past. There is a war on in the universe and it is not like the wars that we are use to. The wars of the future are no longer just physical, they are now cyber and metaphysical. It is a war that has been waged for a few centuries. There are wizards who fight and command in the cyber/metaphysical world and then there are the warriors who are more traditional in that they fight in the physical plan. I liked this idea but admittedly. had a hard time comprehending the idea. It was mind-boggling to say the least and while Korogodski does a great job of explaining it, however, I still had trouble grasping the idea.Pink Noise is a very short story but a very large concept that may or may not come to pass. It takes place several centuries from now and raises some issues about our current artificial Intelligence and just how long the human body could live for given the proper care. While I had trouble with some of the ideas that the author brought forth I can see where hardcore science fiction readers may have a blast with this story. It should be noted that the reason for the low score is due to the fact that I had trouble with the book, not because of the story itself.[...]



REVIEW: Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

2011-06-20T23:14:00.476-07:00

The Quantum Thief by Hannu RajaniemiPublishing Information: Paperback; 336 pagesPublisher: Orion Publishing Co; 30 Sept 2010ISBN 10: 0575088885ISBN 13: 9780575088887StandaloneCopy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonBack of Book: "Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed ...The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut."A few months before The Quantum Thief was released much of the blogosphere was on fire about how great this book was. While not a huge Science Fiction reader (I mainly stick to fantasy), I decided to give him a shot. After all, it sounded like a similar concept to David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 series. I was wrong on all counts. Rajaniemi's debut is not like anything else I have ever read.The first third of The Quantum Thief leaves you scratching your head. There are different races and factions, concepts and human history that is never explained. Rajaniemi could have taken a few minutes to pile on a large infodump or provided a history in the back of the novel so you would have something to help you. Instead he decides to throw you into the deep end of the ocean with some starving sharks and then continues his story.By the time I reached the halfway point of the book I had no connection to anyone in story. Our thief, Jean La Flambeur, is in a pickle and I had no desire to see him worm his way out of it or see him get caught. I had no investment. The only character I found liking, yet still no connection was the young detective, Isadore. Although for all the complexity the author spun around his main characters I was able to deduce the connection between certain character well before I think I should have. The character development was lackluster and rather two dimensional. As I said before, with no emotional impact caused by the characters there was nothing to keep me reading other than to find out whether the book gets any better, which it never did. If anything it actually got worse.While I think that The Quantum Thief will continue to get rave reviews, I will not be one of them. The book is front-loaded with a bunch of technobabble that will leave you cold and confused for a good portion of the book and the action and characters do not provide any payoff in the end. I can not recommend this book and if asked I would probably tell friends to stay clear of it.[...]



REVIEW: Mirrored Heavens by David J Williams

2011-06-13T23:12:00.455-07:00

The Mirrored Heaven by David J. WilliamsPublishing information: KindlePublisher: Spectra 20 May 2008ISBN 10: 0553385410ISBN 13: 978-0553385410ASIN: B0015DRP4ASeries: Book one in the Autumn Rain trilogyCopy: Out of PocketReviewer: TysonDescription "In the 22nd century, the first wonder of a brave new world is the Phoenix Space Elevator, designed to give mankind greater access to the frontier beyond Earth. Cooperatively built by the United States and the Eurasian Coalition, the Elevator is also a grand symbol of superpower alliance following a second cold war. And it's just been destroyed. With suspicions rampant, armies and espionage teams are mobilized across the globe and beyond. Enter Claire Haskell and Jason Marlowe, U.S. counterintelligence agents and former lovers-though their memories may only be constructs implanted by their spymaster. Now their agenda is to trust no one. For as the crisis mounts, the lives of all involved will converge in one explosive finale-and a startling aftermath that will rewrite everything they've ever known-about their mission, their world, and themselves."The Mirrored Heaven is an interesting future for Earth. Russia and China have formed an alliance as has the United States and her allies. The rest of the world has been chopped up and divvied up between the two. South America is proving to be difficult to contain as they have many splinter groups doing their best to remain free from the oppression of the two major super powers. The two super powers have formed an uneasy alliance with the creation of the space elevator. Doesn't sound too far fetched for the next century. That is why I think this book is interesting.Admittedly, I was at a loss in the beginning as things move at light speed and the characters and events come and go quickly within the first 100 pages or so. however, once the main event occurs then things start to have some light shed on them. Basically most secret operatives work in pairs. One shooter and one person working support. I found I really enjoyed reading about the shooters. The action was fast and furious and some of their abilities were astounding. The support personnel were interesting as well but not quite as much as I think that Williams wanted me to believe. There is a lot of hacking in The Mirrored Heavens, hacking for information, hacking to circumvent security systems and to gain access to locations. The Mirrored Heavens focus on this on many occasions and at times it was tense but after a fashion, I stopped being excited with the whole process. There is a love interest between a shooter and his hacker but, it is mainly a plot point and a point of mystery as to whether they truly love one another or it was all downloaded into their brains to make them more effective on the battlefield and also cause doubt and trust issues in times of crisis. It was interesting and fun to watch as the mystery unravelled but it could have also been avoided altogether and the book would have came to the same conclusion, minus a few points of tension.The world building is interesting and I suppose it is plausible as well. There are portions of the book that describe the history of earth and how we got to the point where the book takes place and it is interesting. However, with all of the advancements that we made, I found it interesting that South America was never brought into the fold and treated so harshly and without any care. Of course you have to have someone to be the scapegoat and they cannot always be the Russians or the Chinese so, why not the South Americans. It is an exotic locale.Due to the fact that The Mirrored Heavens gets off to a chaotic and shaky start it takes some time to get on the same page as the author, but once you do[...]



REVIEW: The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches by Robert Stanek (Kindle Edition)

2011-06-06T16:09:00.203-07:00

The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches (Signature Illustrated Edition) by Robert StanekPublishing Information: KindlePublisher: Reagent Press LLC; 16 November 2009ISBN 10: 1575455013ISBN 13: 978-1575455013ASIN: B004GXB2E0Series: Book 1 of Keeper Martin's TalesReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "Discover a magical world and be swept away in the adventure of a life time! Readers everywhere are discovering the works of Robert Stanek, and overwhelmingly they agree on one thing: the books are some of the best they've ever read. Featuring full-page illustrations from original paintings, and many additional extraordinary illustrations, this powerful fantasy novel will delight the young and the young at heart! About the BookAfter the Great War that divided the peoples, the kingdoms of men plunged into a Dark Age that lasted 500 years. To heal the lands and restore the light, the great kings decreed that magic and all that is magical, be it creature, man, or device, shall be cleansed to dust. The cleansing raged for so long that no human could recall a time without it and it is in this time that the Dark Lord Sathar returned from the dark beyond. The one hope of the peoples of Ruin Mist was Queen Mother, the elf queen of old. She saw a way out of everlasting darkness, a path that required the union of the divided peoples. And so it began."Oh boy, where to begin? Robert Stanek has a dubious distinction of deleting negative reviews on Amazon and allegedly creating false profiles to promote and extoll the virtues of his novels. Not to mention having his lawyer contact individuals with his hotmail account. It was the main reason I took upon the task of purchasing this novel and finding out for myself whether it was a negative media campaign against him, or if he truly deserved the hate that has been put upon him. In the end, there can be no doubt that he deserves all of the negative reviews and constructive criticism directed at him.The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches has been compared to JRR Tolkien and for good reason, they both contain magic, elves. and evil newly awakened. There are also words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters in both books. So, I can completely understand why you would want to draw comparisons to both novels; however, once you get past those details the comparison quickly falls apart. We have three main characters: the young princess, an elf who believes duty comes before dishonor, and a young boy with magical powers. Each one of these characters have the emotional range of a sofa pillow and are as three dimensional as a sheet of paper. The book is targeted for young adults but I can not see anyone of any age finding this novel entertaining. Painting by numbers has more mystery and intrigue than what I found in this book. The characters are dreadful and most of that is due to the dialogue.There are many passages in The Kingdoms and of the Elves of Reach that had me dumbfounded. I literally found myself shaking my head and re-reading portions of the book and then laughing out loud at some of the alliterations and illusions Stanek attempted to convey to the readers. I usually refrain from using book quotes in my reviews, but in this case I will make an exception.“Always more reminders of the things she should or should not do—her proper place, always her proper place. She knew all about the proper things, the proper mannerisms, the proper greetings, her proper duties, her proper place. She had even been taught, though only recently, the proper things to do to invite a man’s attention. She was to begin courting. But why? “Or this winning prose:“But his search was in vain because he truly was alone. There was no one else with him.”And the best[...]



Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

2011-05-30T21:41:00.144-07:00

Shadow Prowler by Alexey PehovPublishing information: Paperback; 400 pagesPublisher: Simon and Schuster Ltd.; 01 April 2010ISBN 10: 1847375634ISBN 13: 978184737563Series- The Chronicles of Siala Book OneCopy- out of pocketReviewer- TysonBack of the Book "After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring. An army is gathering: giants, ogres and other creatures joining forces from across the Desolate Lands, united for the first time in history under one black banner. By the spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom. Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them. Epic fantasy at its best, Shadow Prowler is the first in a trilogy that follows professional thief Shadow Harold on his quest for a magic Horn that will restore peace to the kingdom of Siala. Accompanied by an elfin princess, ten Wild Hearts - the most experienced and dangerous royal fighters - and the King's court jester (who may be more than he seems ...or less), Harold must outwit angry demons, escape the clutches of a band of hired murderers, survive ten bloody skirmishes ...and reach the burial grounds before dark. Can he escape a fate worse than death?"Shadow Prowler has been prowling me for quite some time, I have had this book since September of last year and finally settled down to read the first book by Pehov. It was translated from his native tongue of Russian and aside from a few clumsy sentences here and there, it is very well written.The story follows Harold a well-reknown thief who does his best to stay off the radar of law enforcement, royalty, and the thieves guild. All of Harold's hard work comes crashing down when the powers that be require his services. This starts his quest or should I say say quests as the book is divided into two parts. The first mission is to gain information vital to his main mission. In order to do this he must go into a enchanted section of the city that no one has been known to escape once they enter it. The second is when he accepts his mission to find a magical item that will maintain the balance and keep "The Nameless One" from attaining power in their world and defeating humankind and the other various races that live in relative harmony. The plot of Shadow Prowler is similar to the Lord of the Rings but in reverse. The handpicked group is not trying to destroy a magical object in a place of evil but rather to obtain a object of great power and use it to vanquish the forces of evil.The character are what you would expect from a fantasy novel, we have elves, dwarves, humans, orcs and other creatures. However, Pehov has a very distinct take on all of them. The Elves for instance more resemble vampires and are separated by two schools of magic. Gnomes and Dwarves hate one another. Harold is the story teller of the first book in the series and he is not sure of his abilities or his companions. The characters in this tale all have their own reasons for taking on the journey and it is interesting as each individual's motivation is revealed.The magic system is divided into wizardry and shamanism, each have their benefits and negative aspects. While magic is found all over the world in this book our main character, Harold possesses no magic ability. Pehov does a decent job of explaining the magic systems and I have a feeling that there is more to them that what he lets on in this first installment of the series.The world building is rather lacking, but it has the feel of middle Earth or something very similar to Tolkien's world, with a Russian slant on it, of course. The world is a dark and dangerous place full of orc attacks and other beasts that roam the world looki[...]



Green by Jay Lake

2011-05-24T21:43:00.274-07:00

Green By Jay LakePublishing Information: Hardback; 368 pagesPublisher: Tor; Doherty Tom Associates, LLC; 09 June 2009ISBN 10: 0765321858ISBN 13: 9780765321855StandaloneCopy Out of pocketReviewer: TysonInside Cover: "She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name—her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a courtesan…and the skills of an assassin…she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties.She calls herself Green.The world she inhabits is one of political power and magic, where Gods meddle in the affairs of mortals. At the center of it is the immortal Duke’s city of Copper Downs, which controls all the trade on the Storm Sea. Green has made many enemies, and some secret friends, and she has become a very dangerous woman indeed.Acclaimed author Jay Lake has created a remarkable character in Green, and evokes a remarkable world in this novel. Green and her struggle to survive and find her own past will live in the reader’s mind for a long time after closing the book."I know it is said to never judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Jay Lake's Green, that is exactly what I did. The cover is gorgeous. The young girl turned tool and weapon of the gods hanging from a pomegranate tree is such a great image. I knew virtually nothing about Jay Green aside from the cover of this novel and went out on a limb to try him out and I am glad I did.Green starts off fairly quickly, as a small child the 'girl' who would become to be known as Green is sold and taken to a faraway land. Almost the instant you start reading the book the imagery is rather well written. Since the girl is really young we are not given a lot of clear details as to the world outside as she begins her journey the reader begins to learn about the world around the girl just as she begins to learn as well. As she grows and matures so do we and the world becomes much more open to us even though she herself is secluded from the outside in a fancy well-provided house known as the Pomegranate Court. The way in which Lake evolves the way we read the story and how it changes and becomes sharper is very subtle and I really enjoyed that concept as I read it.Green is the story of a girl going through massive changes as she is taught various skills and knowledge. It is told through the girl and so we are not told everything in the beginning but as you progress through the novel things become much sharper and clearer. By the very end of the story most things are made fairly clear and with a few pages to go it becomes a little obvious as to how things will end but that does not mean the journey was not worth taking. I really enjoyed reading the girl's prospective as you really have a window into her brain and you see how things unfold with her head.The world building in Green is very graphic at times and very vague in others. The story is told in only two cities and a few small locations. The two major cities are brought to light fairly well but the overall world is not talked about in much detail. From what I gathered the story takes place in a world similar to the Mediterranean Sea as they must travel by ship to travel in between city-states but it only takes a matter of days. They do mention a few other ports of call and cities, but beyond names we have no real concept of what they look like or where they specifically are. Since the other locales were not important to the story they had no real bearing on the story but it [...]



Tales from the Edge of Forever by Alexander Hammond

2011-05-17T21:45:00.502-07:00

Tales from the Edge of Forever by Alexander HammondPublishing information: Paperback; 174 pagesPublisher: Nazca Plains; 16 December 2010ISBN 10: 1610981715ISBN 13: 978-1610981712Anthology/Short Story CollectionCopy: Provided by AuthorReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "An anthology of mind bending imagination, Tales from the Edge of Forever offers a delicious collection of wildly original vignettes mixing fantasy, speculation, spirituality and science invention. Hammond has created stories with a depth and thoughtfulness that transcend their brevity. Whether on the streets of Manhattan or at the very edge of time and space itself the authors’ scenarios tease and intrigue in this stunningly unique collection. A total of twenty three creatively brilliant stories to captivate even the most jaded fantasy enthusiast, this book both challenges and enchants."Tales From the Edge of Forever is a short story collection from Alexander Hammond and he does a fairly good job of delivering a wide gambit of genres. He tackles suicide in the story The Hotel at the Edge of Forever. Nuclear war and politics in the story The Button and UFO conspiracies in Top Secret. Every story contained in the collection reads as if it was written from a different author as Hammond finds a new voice for each story. There is at least one story for everyone regardless of your tastes.The three stories that I enjoyed the most were The End of the World, My Special Guest Tonight, and Deity. The End of the World had a surprise ending. So did My Special Guest Tonight which takes a interesting look at violence in the media. The main character has a striking quality similar to Quentin Tarantino. Finally, in Deity we find a young man who must come to terms with his god-like powers.There are a lot of stories contained in this collection and they read really quickly. I found myself continuing to read long after I should have taken a break. Tales from the Edge of Forever is quite an eclectic collection and I found that it was a lot of fun to read.[...]



Mogworld by Yatzhee Croshaw

2011-05-10T21:40:00.969-07:00

18Mogworld by Yatzhee CroshawPublishing information: Paperback; 414 pagesPublisher: Dark Horse Comics; 21 August 2010ISBN 10: 1595825290ISBN 13: 9781595825292StandaloneCopy Out of pocketReviewer: TysonBack of the Book "A Novel That Will Give A Whole New Meaning To The Term 'Corpse Run'In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been dead for about sixty years. When a renegade necromancer wrenches him from eternal slumber and into a world gone terribly, bizarrely wrong, all Jim wants is to find a way to die properly, once and for all. On his side, he's got a few shambling corpses, an inept thief, and a powerful death wish. But he's up against tough odds: angry mobs of adventurers, a body falling apart at the seams - and a team of programmers racing a deadline to hammer out the last few bugs in their AI."As a huge fan of The Escapist's Zero Punctuation, I knew that I had to give Mogworld a shot. I love Croshaw's sense of humor and while Mogworld is a tad bit tamer than his video reviews it does a fairly great job of converting his brand of comedy into a novel.Mogworld is very similar to World of Warcraft or other forms of MMORPG's (or online mulitplayer role playing games for the uninitiated) except this novel has a twist. We find ourselves reading about Jim, an undead wizard whose only wish is to die. He was resurrected, in his own words, " by a git." When the "git" messes up the resurrection spell Jim and his fellow undead gain awareness. They are not the mindless zombies their master was expecting. This leads to many adventures and an ultimate quest. These quests border on the absurd. Jim has a few companions that join him and encourage him to take on one disaster after another.While the world building is a little bit lacking, you can see where it was done on purpose as Mogworld is satire at its best. Each location sounds similar to some famous games and locales. While the book has some interesting names for locations they really have no real impact on the story as it is more about the adventure or quest. Besides, the majority of people that will be reading Mogworld should have a pretty good grasp of what online gaming worlds look like and should be able to relate fairly well. This is also where Mogworld fails, if you are not a gamer, then this book will fall apart on you half-way through and will leave you behind. The book starts out very strong with witty dialogue and great characters but by the end you are not left with much to think about besides, "why did I read this?" Even if you are a gamer, you may find yourself lost along the way.The plot is rather simple, Jim is undead and unable to die and he is looking for a way to take a permanent dirt nap. What seems simple becomes impossible and leads to some strange and interesting situations. The fact that Croshaw is behind the wheel of this story should tell you that you are in for quite a ride. The book is said to be 350 pages but my book has 414 pages which were plenty. I was hoping for more when I bought the book and Croshaw did not deliver.If you enjoy Zero Punctuation's humor and want to see how he does in another form of media this may be your book. Mogworld was written for gamers that like to play role playing games, but if you are not a hardcore player you may not get all of the jokes. Also, Mogworld is a far cry from his video game review site, Zero Punctuation, very tame and it loses its focus towards the end. A bitter disappointment, [...]



The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2009 edited by Rich Horton

2011-05-03T21:45:01.126-07:00

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2009 Edited by Rich HortonPublishing Information: Paperback; 544 pagesPublisher: Prime Books; 6 January 2010ISBN 10: 1607012146ISBN 13: 978-1607012146Series: Annual publicationReviewer: TysonBack of the Book: "The first volume of The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy features over a quarter million words of fiction by some of the genre's greatest authors, including Peter S. Beagle, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Ian McDonald, Sarah Monette, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Robert Reed, Patrick Rothfuss, and many more, as selected by Rich Horton, a well-known and well-received contributor to many of the field's most respected magazines."Title of Story and Author -26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss, Kil JohnsonShoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth BearGlass, Daryl GregoryThe Hiss of Escaping Air, Christopher GoldenAraminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake, Naomi NovikWe Love Deena, Alice Sola KimThe Art of Alchemy, Ted KosmathkaFalling Angel, Eugene MirabelliThe Fifth Star in the Southern Cross, Margo LanaganKing Pelles the Sure, Peter S. BeagleCharacter Flu, Robert ReedGift From a Spring, Delia ShermanThe Region of Unlikeness, Rivka GalchenDaltharee, Jeffery FordThe Ray-Gun: A love Story, James Alan GardnerThe God of Au, Ann LeckieThe Fantasy Jumper, Will McIntoshThe Magician's House, Meghan McCarronBalancing Accounts, James L. CambiasSuicide Drive, Charles AndersThe Small Door, Holly PhillipsThe Eyes of God, Peter WattsFirooz and his Brother, Alex JeffersInfestation, Garth NixA Water Matter, Jay LakeThe Golden Octopus, Beth BernobichBlue Vervain Murder Ballad #2: Jack of Diamonds, Erik AmundsenThe Road to Levinshir, Patrick RothfussFixing Handover, Jeff VandermeerBoojum, Elizabeth Bear and Sara MonetteThe Difficulties of Evolution, Karen HeulerCatherine Drewe, Paul CornellSilent as Dust, James MaxeyEvil Robot Monkey, Mary Robinette KowalIf Angels Fight, Richard BowesSpiderhorse, Liz WilliamsThe Tear, Ian McDonaldI am not a huge short story reader, I read a few here and there but usually if I am in the mood to read a series of short stories I tend to pick up a collection by a single author but, this particular collection featured a story by Patrick Rothfuss that I really wanted to read as I am eagerly awaiting the next book in his Kingkiller Chronicles. Not to mention it gave me an opportunity to read a few authors I have not had a chance to read before and get a sample of their work. There were also a few authors that I had not read in quite a while and it allowed me a chance to catch up with them as well.There were quite a few stories that I either dealt with a subject matter that failed to get my attention or in some cases just was not anything I was interested in; however, there were quite a few gems inside. Mainly, the stories by Rothfuss, Beagle, Nix and James Alan Gardner.If you are a fan of Peter S. Beagle, his story King Pelles the Sure should be right up your alley. Strong characters from the start with the moral of be careful what you wish for.Garth Nix is an author I haven't read in a fairly long time and his story Infestation is a vampire tale that explores a new origin for the species and has a impressive, yet mysterious protagonist. Full of action and while it had a Young Adult slant to it, that did not keep it from being really entertaining. If it were to become a novel or series I would more than likely put down cash to read i[...]



REVIEW: Contra Alliance: Shadows of the Past by Tom Kolega (Kindle Edition)

2011-04-28T17:50:00.304-07:00

Contra Alliance: Shadows of the Past by Tom KolegaPublishing information: KindlePublisher: State of the Art Entertainment, LLC; 9 October 2010ISBN 10: 9780615302027ISBN 13: 978-0615302027ASIN: 0615302025Series: The Contra Alliance Trilogy Book OneCopy: Provided by AuthorReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "The year is 2035. America's preeminence has withered. Global warming, scarce resources, and conflict have pushed the world to its breaking point. Throughout the increasing turmoil, a rogue group called The Revolution has risen to prominence seeking domination over humanity.Shadows of the Past explores the adventures of a NATO Counter-Revolutionary (CONTRA) Strike Force as it battles against the mysterious organization. Elite Special Forces operators use advanced military technology to hunt The Revolution, finding its feared wickedness is worse than imagined. When secrets of the enemy's origin threaten accepted reality, dangers intensify.Disturbing evidence exposed by CONTRA uncovers stunning truths about the galaxies. A covert faction of extraordinary messengers race to save Earth. Legends of the past and visions of the future collide when a long-dormant evil resurfaces to challenge the most powerful space alliance in the universe. The course of human history irrevocably alters, setting the world on an unforeseen path.When Time Unlocks The Truth to History . . . The Epic Begins."When I received Contra Alliance I could not help but think about the classic video game. However, after a few chapters in I knew that it was not the case. Contra Alliance deals with a highly secretive branch of operators working for the United Nations and two powerful alien races who are secretly waging a secret war on Earth.The biggest obstacle is that there is a huge cast of characters, nations, and abilities to juggle. Many of which really don't play a major factor in the story or the characters abilities, at least at this point in the story. But it truly is an international group, and to a degree, interstellar force. While the setting takes place in the near future not much has happened in the way of weapons. Lasers have started to make an appearance on the battlefield, as well as battle suits that augment the person wearing them. We are told that the United States has lost its grip on being the ultimate superpower yet they are still at the forefront of every altercation, still have the best equipment, and continue to play a major role in international affairs which left me a little confused as to how or if they had truly fallen.Contra Alliance has two plot lines going: the evil plan of the Revolution that plans to use earth for their personal revenge against their ancient enemies and the constant, well-planned and oftentimes violence from radical groups, and the second plot is the newly formed UN's Contra force must assist in bringing order out of chaos. There is a third plot, where earth's alien protectors must keep their involvement and identities secret but it is a minor plot point.There is a lot of action and the way Kolega weaves them is quite good. They are quick and the results felt well into the final pages of the book. No one is really safe from injury or death except for a few key players that will be obvious from the start. Contra Alliance has the feel of a novelizaton for a comic book and I could see this as a Sci-fi (sorry Syfy) television show similar in the vein of Stargate: SG1 if it ever made it to the small screen. Which I think would bring in a lot of viewers.At the end of the day, Contra Alliance is a suprising mili[...]



Out of the Dark By David Weber (Kindle Edition)

2011-04-11T21:38:00.055-07:00

Out of the Dark by David WeberPublishing infomation: Kindle; 1166kb also available in hardcover 384 pagesPublisher: Tor; 28 September 2010ASIN: B003P8Q5LMISBN 10: 0765324121ISBN 13: 978-0765324122Book 1 in a planned trilogyCopy: out of pocketReviewer: TysonDescription "In the stunning launch of a new military-SF series, DAVID WEBER tells the tale of humanity’s near extinction by hostile aliens and of the surprising alliance that fights back.Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanitys cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity—but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth."Out of the Dark grew from a short story that was featured in the George RR Martin and Gardner Dozio's Warriors anthology. While I never got around to reading the anthology, the book itself sounded appealing. I have read a previous Weber novel but for the life of me cannot recall the title or what occurred in it, it was just too long ago. I only remember that it had a fair amount of military action. So, to a certain extent I expected more of the same. If you enjoy a fair amount of military acronyms and terminology you will not be disappointed. Out of the Dark starts out at the battle of Agincourt where the aliens first encounter humanity and take their negative report back to their superiors. After that encounter the rest of the novel takes place a few years into the future. Tensions are still high between the west and Iran. There is a fair amount of world building in the beginning of the novel as we play catch up on world events and we gain a better prospective on how the Shongairi think and how their caste system works. We also learn their true motivations for arriving on earth.There are quite a few characters to juggle in Out of the Dark. Each chapter jumped from one continent and character to another as action spans the globe. While none of the characters ever became a favorite, they all had a part to play and sometimes their luck was a little too lucky where it bordered on divine intervention. It was not too bothersome but it did seem to make for an easier time than one should have encountered considering every major city and military installation just got blown to smithereens.In Out of the Dark we have both the various human prospective and the Shongairi's, While the humans seemed normal, or as normal as they could be considering the situation they faced, the Shogairi were a little too human. They did have problems understanding human psychology and human motivations. At times this was humorous but I could not understand why Weber had them seem so much like humans. Aside from the fact that they are described as "puppies," meaning they look like dogs that walk upright, I would have liked to have seen something completely different from us. Aside from their pack like instinct and appearance they were fa[...]



Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

2011-04-04T21:47:00.630-07:00

Altered Carbon by Richard MorganPublishing Information: Paperback; 384 pagesPublisher: Random House Publishing Group; 01 March 2003ISBN 10: 0345457684ISBN 13: 9780345457684Series Book #1 of Takeshi Kovacs seriesCopy out of pocketReviewer: TysonBack of the Book "In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats "existence" as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning...."This is my second Richard Morgan novel. My first encounter with Morgan was The Steel Remains. His debut fantasy novel and while there were a few things that I enjoyed about The Steel Remains it left me on the fence as to whether or not I should continue the series. However, whether you enjoyed Morgan's fantasy literature nearly everyone agrees that his true calling is science fiction. With that in mind, not long ago I came across his first novel Altered Carbon and decided to give him another shot.Altered Carbon is set in our future where the human body is simply a shell to be used and discarded as easily as the hermit crab does. We are all uploaded via a small electronic device at the base of the skull. From there it is as simple as downloading your personality into a new body of your choosing. Or, if you are unlucky someone else's choosing. It is here where we meet our hero Takeshi Kovacs. A former envoy or special forces agent/assassin/detective with advanced programming and upgrades that travel along with him when he "resleeves" or is downloaded into a new body.Altered Carbon starts off with adventure and does not let up until the very last page. Kovacs is resleeved and sent to Earth to investigate a murder. While most readers would love to read about distant planets Morgan has chosen to have Earth as the backdrop to the novel and as it turns out Kovacs has never been to the cradle of civilization and so he is out of sorts with some of the mundane everyday things we take for granted. While Kovacs is tracking down leads he is constantly being hunted by interested parties that have scores to settle and keep him from the truth. I found it interesting that the body Kovacs has been sleeved into still smokes. I would have thought that smoking would have been outlawed/illegal many eons ago but we apparently still need our nicotine. While Takeshi Kovacs is the main star of the show his friends and associates are also interesting. Each with their own story to tell and motivations for their own actions. No one is pure which only adds to the enigma.The book has a deeper issue beyond the detective story in regards to religion and how humanity deals with the concept of souls. With people able to enter any bod[...]



REVIEW: X-Men Misfits vol. 1 by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman Illustrated by Anzu

2011-03-28T16:56:00.703-07:00

X-Men Misfits vol. 1 by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman Illustrated by AnzuPublishing information: Paperback; 192 pagesPublisher: Del Ray; 11 August 2009ISBN 10: 034550514XISBN 13: 978-0345505149Series Volume 1Reviewer: TysonBack of the Book "THE X-MEN GET A RADICAL NEW REMIX IN A STORY ABOUT TEEN ANGST, FIRST LOVE, AND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING INHigh school student Kitty Pryde has always been the odd girl out. A mutant, she was born with strange superpowers, magical talents that make her the class freak. But Kitty’s world is changed when she’s invited to study at Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, a special home for mutant teens. There’s just one catch: Kitty’s the only girl at the all-boy school, and she ends up just feeling like a freak all over again.Then Kitty meets Pyro and the ultra-hot bad boys of the Hellfire Club. They’re the school’s elite–handsome, rich, and totally above the rules. Now Kitty seems to have it all: a dreamy boyfriend, super-cool friends, and the chance to develop her extraordinary talents. But why is her heart telling her that something is wrong? Will Kitty ever find the place where she belongs, or is she doomed to be a misfit forever?"The book seemed to be targeted for girls or at least this particular book was as Kitty Pryde is a outcast at her school when she is asked to come to a private school for people like her. She accepts the offer and learns she is the only girl enrolled which seemed to me to be trying to hit the Twilight fans as that seemed right out of Stephanie Meyer's personal playbook. X-Men Misfits is a reboot on the popular Marvel franchise and for me it did not do it for me. When I reviewed the rebooted Wolverine, I liked it. X-men Misfits just failed to hit the mark.Some of that may have to do with the fact that the book focused it on Kitty Pryde AKA Shadowcat. She was such a minor character back when I read the comics that I had difficulty getting into this one. While I had several issues with this reboot I will only focus on a few. The second issue I had was that the book had Scott Summers/Cyclops as a student and his wife Jean Grey and Ororo Munroe/Storm as professors which really confused me and the timeline I had already set in my mind. The third issue I had was that Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto was in charge of an elite group of mutants at Xavier's School for the Gifted called Hellfire Club and that the they students in that group had free reign of the school. I would have thought that Professor X would have knowledge of the group and put a stop to it but it was never brought up.X-Men Misfits does have a lot of potential as there are plenty of characters that can be introduced or brought in as a cameo. However, I have no plans to continue with this particular series.The artwork is the real gem in X-Men Misfits. It is done in the anime style and should bring more fans to the world of the X-Men. It may take some getting use to as some panels have some serious humor ejected into them which is not common in traditional American comics. It was my first encounter with Anzu and I have to say that I like what I saw. It was the books only saving grace.[...]



REVIEW: Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers edited by Jessy Marie Roberts

2011-03-21T15:47:00.439-07:00

Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers edited by Jessy Marie RobertsPublishing information: KindlePublisher: Pine Hill Press; 16 August 2010ISBN 10: 1617060011ISBN 13: 978-1617060014ASIN: B004C05DR4AnthologyCopy: Provided by publisherReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "Twenty-one dark short stories about the undead, and the persons who raise them... Featuring: The Blade of Tears by Lydia Sharp, No Man's Land by K.G. McAbee, Wrists by Shennandoah Diaz, All the World a Grave by Michael McClung, Blood on the Beach by Anne Michaud, The Scarlet Cat by Rebecca Lloyd, The Mortician's Secret by Kelley Frank, The King's Accord by Alan Baxter, Necrodance by Darin Kennedy, The Ghost Walk by Marianne Halbert, Blood Brothers by J. Matthew Saunders, Bequest by Greg Mellor, 9 Mystery Rose by Eden Royce, In the Dark Kingdom by Brandon Berntson, Jenna's Awakening by TW Brown, Queen of Bones by Aubrie Dionne, Small Matters of Immortality by Michael R. Colangelo, The Stoner Bride by Matthew Fryer, Sedenberry's Pest by Jon C. Forisha, A History of the Wraith King by Chris Poling & And the Greatest of these is Love by David McDonald."While reading Flesh and Bone I was struck with the thought that this entire collection has the feel of a Creep Show or Tales From the Darkside feel to them. The collection contained in the anthology varies considerably. There are tales that are in the modern age as well as from times past. There is also a lot of fantasy elements aside from the obvious dealing with necromancy. While I found the nearly all the stories contained in the collection to be great there were a few that stood out.The Blade of Tears by Lydia Sharp and All the World a Grave by Michael McClung were very impressive in that they should have been full blown novels. There were a lot of great ideas and characters presented in both of the stories. The Blade of Tears dealt with the undead attacking a woman bent on revenge as she attempts to recover a family heirloom. All the World a Grave had a fascinating assassin. The background for the character was impressive and the ending was something that I did not see coming. The Scarlet Cat by Rebecca Lloyd was a cross between classic Stephen King and Raimi's Drag Me to Hell. After reading the story I thought she outdid King in many respects and would love to see more work from the author.The one stand out story that I enjoyed was Blood on the Beach by Anne Michaud. It was a short story told from the zombie's prospective as the zombie is semi-aware and not as brain dead was we are led to believe. When Michaud has the zombie looking for a hiding spot to avoid the soldiers had me chuckling.Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers is not a collection that I would pick up on my own as it is not something that I tend to go after when I look for a new book, but I am glad that the publisher sent me the collection as it was a lot of fun to read and gave me a chance to read several talented authors that I had never encountered before. If you love the undead and those that raise them from their eternal rest then this the perfect collection for you. I wish that I had received this anthology around Halloween because it is a great collection for that time of year.[...]



REVIEW: Machine of Death: A collection of stories about people who know how they will die [Kindle Edition]

2011-03-15T06:04:01.037-07:00

Machine of Death: A collection of stories about people who know how they will die editors: Ryan North, Bennardo, David MalkiPublishing Information: Kindle EditionPublisher: Bearstache Books 26 October 2010ISBN 10: 0982167121ISBN 13: 978-0982167120ASIN: B004AHK9ZAShort Story CollectionCopy: Provided by PublisherReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. No dates, no details. Just a slip of paper with a few words spelling out your ultimate fate -- at once all-too specific and maddeningly vague.A top ten Amazon Customer Favorite in Science Fiction & Fantasy for 2010, The Machine of Death is an anthology of original stories bound together by a central premise. From the humorous to the adventurous to the mind-bending to the touching, the writers explore what the world would be like if a blood test could predict your death.But don't think for a moment this is a book entirely composed of stories about people meeting their ironic dooms. There is some of that, of course. But more than that, this is a genre-hopping collection of tales about people who have learned more about themselves then perhaps they should have, and how that knowledge affects their relationships, their perception of the world, and how they feel about themselves.Features thirty-four stories by Randall Munroe, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Tom Francis, Camille Alexa, Erin McKean, James L. Sutter, David Malki !, Ryan North, and many othersFeatures illustrations by Kate Beaton, Kazu Kibuishi, Aaron Diaz, Jeffrey Brown, Scott C., Roger Langridge, Karl Kershl, Cameron Stewart, and many others"I am not a huge short story reader but when the publisher contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing the book, I said yes. I was not hooked until I read the premise. Each story contained in the collection is based on the same idea that a machine has been invented that will predict accurately how you will leave this world. While some of the predictions are fairly obvious, others are not so clear.In all honesty the first few stories that I read in Machine of Death drove me nuts as they are left very open ended. No resolution is to be found in the first few stories. I was getting skeptical and was wondering if there was ever going to be a scene in any of the stories where we see the predictions come true. I did not have to wait long and soon came to realise that they were put in the beginning of the novel to warm you up to the idea and to have you salivating at the prospect of what was to come.As you dig deeper into the stories the collection provides, you wonder just how far they are willing to go as each story really builds upon one another. As you read one story you wonder, how can they top that one? Only to find that the next story accomplishes exactly that. While I was a little disappointed with the first few stories (mainly due to no resolution) I began to see the bigger picture and thought it was really impressive that they placed them where they did. Because had they been thrown in the middle or in the later portions of the book, it would have ruined the tempo the book had built up to.Next week, I will review Yathzee Croshaw's Mogworld and I was disappointed with the novel but he really does shine in this collection. His short story was a lot of fun to read. He was redeemed in this collection. Truth be told I can no[...]



REVIEW: Temple of the Dead by Tim Marquitz

2011-03-07T15:51:00.932-08:00

The Temple of the Dead by Tim MarquitzPublishing information: Kindle EditionPublisher: Damnation Books 1 March 2010ISBN 10: 1615722718ISBN 13: 978-1615722716ASIN: B004E3XTR0Series: Part II of the Sepulchral EarthCopy: Provided by AuthorReviewer: TysonSynopsis: "Two years after the furious dead rose up to murder the living, the remnants of mankind face a brutal extinction. Wretched and broken, trading humanity for life, the survivors suffer under the inevitable shadow of death.Aided by friendly spirits, the necromancer Harlan Cole wages war against the merciless forces of the undead. Driven to bring peace to the souls of his wife and daughter, Harlan vows to return the dead to their graves, or join them trying."Last year I reviewed an very impressive debut, Armageddon Bound, after my review the author contacted me to read a short story that he was working on. Sepulchral Earth. I was blown away and was begging for more. A few months ago Tim Marquitz contacted me again to see if I would be interested in reading the sequel to his first short story. I jumped at the chance.The Temple of the Dead was a lot of fun to read and provided a lot of insight into just how things on earth got as bad as they have. When we left our hero Cole he was saving a family from the undead. In this latest installment he is dealing with his past. The reason part one of the Sepulchral Earth was so mind boggling was that the hero and his mysterious ghostly sidekick is the mystery that surrounded him and his past. Sepulchral Earth. It was kind of a let down to know how things came to be and to learn of what drives Harlan to be the man he is. I would have liked to have learned more about him as the character and his adventures continued. With that said I still enjoyed this chapter in the series.Marquitz does a great job of showing the despair that humankind has sunk to with legions of undead "dying" to get a piece of them. There is a fascinating new villain that Cole must come to terms with and he has a new friend along for the journey. While the story is rather short Marquitz does an excellent job of throwing in some stylized action within the pages. The Temple of the Dead is a welcome addition to the Sepulchral Earth series.As I said before I was a bit disappointed with the unveiling of Cole's past but that aside it was great to get back into the series and I look forward to seeing more of his adventures.[...]



REVIEW: Nightchild by James Barclay

2011-02-28T16:44:00.253-08:00

Nightchild by James BarclayPublishing information: Paperback; 496 pagesPublisher: Orion Publishing; 13 November 2008ISBN 10: 0575082844ISBN 13: 9780575082847Series: Book 3 in the Chronicles of the Raven trilogyCopy- out of pocketReviewer: TysonBack of the Book: ”It begins with a tidal wave. There is a new power coming. It will sweep aside the four colleges of magic. It is the power of the land, and it has manifested itself in Lyanna, a five year old girl. Unknowingly, she could destroy Balaia. Desperate to maintain their power, the colleges will do anything to control the child. If that fails, they will kill her. Terrified, Lyanna's mother, Erienne the mage, takes her into hiding. But they can't hide forever. As the hunt goes on, Lyanna starts to test her powers and nature itself begins to turn on Balaia. Her father, Denser of The Raven, is also desperate to find her. But can even The Raven find Erienne and her child when they do not want to be found? And if they do find them, what then should they do? Lyanna is ripping the world apart. Thousands are dying. Can The Raven afford to let her live?“If you are just catching up the reviews for the other two novels in the series are here: Dawnthief and Noonshade.When we return to the land of Balaia we find the Ravens five years from the previous adventure found in Noonshade and they have all gone their separate ways and found new lives, giving up the life of the Balaia's legendary mercenaries. All of them have started families. Hirad has taken it upon himself to watch over the dragons and protect them from those that would seek them as a hunting trophy, The Unknown has returned to his beloved bar and settled down, Ilkar has taken up the massive chore of rebuilding the Julastian college, and Erienne and Denser have a young daughter that is strong in magic.While we are allowed a glimpse of the Raven's new lives it does not take long before all heck breaks out and the Ravens are called to once again take on a job, this time it is to protect one of their own. When Denser learns that his wife and child are on the run from her own college and witch hunters, he turns to his long-time friends for help. The glimpse that we see as the Ravens reform in Nightchild is beyond the hack and slash adding a missing portion of the characters personalities that was only hinted at in the earlier books. Nightchild is a great action novel but a new aspect has been added in this one. Barclay adds a new dimension to each of his beloved Ravens. I would have liked to have seen more of each of the characters in retirement but, then the book would not have been quite so action packed. However, it was a nice change of pace while it lasted.Each of the characters in Nightchild have grown leaps and bounds from where they started in Dawnthief and I have to say it only added to the enjoyment as I read the book. Nightchild also brings back a lot of our favorite supporting characters from the previous installments, as well as adding in Lyanna the offspring of Erienne and Denser. While I liked her at first, her character seemed innocent and curious but as the novel continued to add more and more of her personality, I came to dislike her.At the heart of Nightchild is a rescue. The Raven need to reform in order to save Erienne and her (and Denser's) daughter Lyanna. Along the way t[...]