Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
– Introduction by Gardner Dozois
– “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie – A Red Country story
– “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
– “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
– “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
– “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story
– “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
– “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
– “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
– “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
– “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson – A Cosmere story
– “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
– “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story
– “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
– “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
– “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon – An Outlander story
– “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
– “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling – An Emberverse story
– “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
– “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
– “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector – A Wild Cards story
– “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire story

Published by Harper Voyager

Supplied by Harper Collins

Reviewed by Steve

While Gardner Duzois and George R.R. Martin are better known for fantasy/science fiction anthologies and writing respectively, they have collaborated here as editors of a collection that purports to be about dangerous women. The range of fiction collected is very broad – historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, crime, and fantasy/science fiction. Most of the authors I had heard of, but there were one or two new faces and they didn’t disappoint.

I could discern no obvious pattern in the ordering of the stories, which may have been intentional. Historical fiction camped by science fantasy and crime fiction. Which meant I had to at least sample the style if I wanted to do a good job of reviewing. As well as the volume’s introduction, each author and story was introduced. A good idea as I doubt any but the most vociferous reader would know all of the authors and their genres.

As with all anthologies, there were some stories I felt didn’t jibe, primarily from the historical authors – when writing about medieval royalty, historical reality has to be contended with. That said, historical fiction, and Carrie Vaughn’s Raisa Stepanova could loosely be claimed as such, also produced a couple of winners in the above Vaughn piece and Diana Gabaldon’s Virgins. Jim Butcher’s Bombshells was an excellent piece of urban fantasy, and also gives hope to every Harry Dresdon fan alive (and maybe one or two of the dead, it is fantasy, you know). And while George R.R. Martin is frustrating all by not finishing the A Song of Fire and Ice saga, he is at least still alive and whets our appetite with the final tale in the volume, a prequel in that universe.

I enjoyed the anthology

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Published by Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

There are two important aspects to reviewing any novel; the story and how it is told. In the case of “Sleeping Giants” how it is told is so unusual, that I have to question whether it is technically a novel. It is certainly a work of fiction, but is written as a series of transcripts of interviews and reports, mostly involving a mysterious “Man in Black”. This gives a strange sense of remoteness from the characters and from events. The characters speak for themselves certainly, but the reader never gets inside their heads, to know what they are really thinking. If that style is going to irritate you, then don’t invest your time and money on this book.

Then there’s the story. Now, this is proper science fiction, utilising the well-trodden trope of alien artefacts, long buried on Earth, coming to the surface. Literally, in this case.

Where the author puts a contemporary spin on the story is to have various parts of the artefact spread around the planet, sometimes in less than easily accessible places, resulting in interesting political complications. I’m not entirely convinced by some of the events – the author stretches the long arm of coincidence a bit too far in places. And really the whole “backwards knees” thing is unnecessary (and most likely based on a common fallacy regarding avian anatomy). However, I did appreciate the references to both Biblical and Greek mythology (it is called the Themis Trilogy for a good reason).

0Overall, for me this book proved to be a solid win. There are negatives, but there are strong enough positives that it was an enjoyable read, and one I can safely recommend.

 

united-as-one

It’s always difficult starting a serial with the latest book. It’s even harder if there is no potted outline of what has gone before. Consequently, I had great trouble getting into this science fiction novel, which is seventh in the Lorean Legacies.

The story is presented in a series of chapters offering past occurrences, present, and alternative point of view characters. Mercifully, different typefaces were chosen to distinguish past and present, else I could have been well and truly confused.

The story, so far as I could tell, was of a small group of resistance fighters battling to end the domination of the Earth by an alien menace. It appears both aliens and humans have turncoats within them, and the resistance is dominated by a select few who have acquired some form of supernatural powers. From what I could gather, the aliens seem capable of passing themselves off as human.

This conclusion may be wrong, as I confess to being unable to finish Volume Seven – it was just too much hard work to reconstruct the backstory. Another quibble was the author had inserted himself (or a character of the same name) into the plot.

My recommendation would be to find Volume One, I am Number Four, and go forward from there. I, however, have been side tracked by some history books.

Michael Joseph

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

Posted: March 17, 2016 in Review, science fiction
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Aurora

About a quarter of the way through this book, I came to the conclusion that this has to be about the most depressing novel about interstellar exploration ever written. I’m aware that it’s hard; that there will be many problems and difficulties that must be faced by anyone who attempts to explore beyond our solar system, but Mr Robinson, do you really need to lay it on with such a large trowel? Consequently, I found the book to be really tough going, especially in the middle when everything is falling apart – literally. If there is one concept that dominates this novel it is entropy, to such an extent that I doubt if I’ll ever read a generation ship story in quite the same light ever again.

As the story begins, the ship is approaching Tau Ceti, where a world believed to be lifeless and having an oxygen atmosphere orbits a gas giant in the star’s habitable zone. As you may have guessed, it doesn’t turn out to be a simple matter of land and set up your colony. It’s a whole lot harder than that, but to go into further detail would be to give away too much of the story…

To tell the truth, I have every expectation of seeing this novel nominated for a Hugo next year. It may even win. Robinson has done a fine job of writing hard science fiction – his research is impeccable, and I don’t doubt his numbers (there are an awful lot of them, by the way). But while I will remember this novel a lot longer than most, I have to confess that I didn’t exactly enjoy reading it.

Orbit

Supplied b Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

The Long Utopia

Having begun by opening the way to the Long Earth, destroying much of the world we know by blowing up the Yellowstone supervolcano, and going on explore Mars, you had to wonder what Pratchett and Baxter were going to do next with their gigantic imaginary playground. The Long Earth is, for those who haven’t encountered it before, their take on the many Earths hypothesis, only they’ve gone for empty worlds as opposed to alternate histories. And Pratchett and Baxter have had a lot of fun creating some interesting characters and then letting them loose to explore the possibilities. Not to mention potatoes…

What they decided to do in the Long Utopia was to send some of their major characters out to New Springfield on Earth West 1,217,756, there to begin home-steading. Only, it’s not so simple, and by a very long coincidence (or not at all by chance) that world has intersected something very nasty, very invasive, and potentially able to destroy all of the many Earths and with them all of humanity if it is allowed to spread. Somehow it must be stopped, and to save the worlds, sacrifices must be made.

There is much that is great and grand about the Long Earth. The characters are well-crafted, and the writing is excellent. But there is something missing. It feels like two great writers at play, wondering what they should do next, with no real objective other than exploration. Will there be any resolution to all of their assorted plot-lines? Well, there is one last long earth novel to come.

Published by Doubleday

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

th game of lives

This book is the third novel in James Dashner’s “Mortality Doctrine” series, and the climax. It concludes the series in a satisfying way that is wonderful to read about. I cannot stress enough about the importance of reading these books in order. There is a lot to keep track of, and lots of things to think about while reading the book, and it will get confusing. Even more so if you don’t read in order.

The story continues following Sarah, Michael, and Bryson, and their fight to defeat Kaine and the VNS. In the last book the three friends became suspicious about the VNS, and their suspicions led them into strife and the partnership with the VNS was terminated. Yet the trouble continued, Kaine’s mortality doctrine programme has been uploading more tangents (AI programs) into more humans, and the world is slowly losing balance. It’s now up to the three friends and the resistance force to defeat Kaine and the VNS, and destroy the doctrine once and for all…

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a wonderful, suspenseful read that I couldn’t put down. Although I hadn’t read the books in a while, the story gave light exposition that told me everything I needed to know to be involved. The action was tense, the emotions were heavy, and it really was just another wonderful Dashner bestseller.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. James Dashner has produced another brilliant work, I recommend this book to anyone who is already familiar with the series, and is ready for the third one. Or for anyone who enjoys well-written, action-packed stories with great design.

Corgi

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

robot overlords

Okay, I haven’t seen the movie, and I doubt that any of you have either, because somebody made the mistake of releasing this independent British kids SF movie in Britain the same weekend as Cinderella and Spongebob. It didn’t have a hope, which is a pity, because the premise is solid, and the story as presented in this novelisation is better than most. I do think it could have done with a stronger title, especially for the movie – the tag line “Robots Never Lie” might have worked better.

The scenario is that the Earth has been invaded by robots intent on subjugating humanity in order to mine people for any useful data they might have. The war was over quickly and now everybody is confined to their homes, aside from the Volunteer Corps, humans who have chosen to cooperate with the robots. Obedience is enforced by means of implants which track people and blow them up if they are caught by the robots breaking their rules. So, how do a bunch of kids get the upper hand in a situation like this? Very carefully… and with two particular strokes of plain unpredictable luck, the first of which gives them a way to disable their implants, and as for the second… That would be giving away a bit too much. Put it this way – I found it rather more believable than the ending of Independence Day.

It was a bit British – I couldn’t help wondering how the Robots’ strictures would have worked in other parts of the world. And the primary villain is a Geography teacher turned quisling who felt straight out of Doctor Who. Which was another thing. I kept expecting the TARDIS to suddenly materialise… But enough of that. It’s not great, but it’s a pretty good read, better than you might expect. I’d definitely recommend this story to teenagers, especially if they have an interest in robotics.

Gollancz

Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui