February 2010 in Reading v2

February has been a hectic month. I usually read more books than this but work has intruded much on my leazure time this month, we are about to hatch a new product soon. It has not been easy to rank these fine books. I am trying a new format with a concentration of my reviews, better? worse? Read the reviews if you want to know more.

I made mistake with the feed earlier this month so I have to make 2 similar posts to get it right, sorry ignore the other

The God Engines by John Scalzi

John Scalzi treads new domains with this dark Gothic Opera of star travel, faith, living gods, sex, violence and space battles which channels the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft…

… The God Engines is a chilling horror story set in a world with living manifested gods, so it has to be fantasy? Well, maybe, there is a lot of Space Opera and science fiction in this fantasy story. I think it’s magnificent and I love the inventiveness of the story, using gods as engines! I am just sorry it is so short, the plot could easily have been made into a full length novel. I say convinced that it would be easy for John Scalzi, him being such a fantastic writer (nudge, nudge).

The Course of Empire by Eric Flint & K. D. Wenthworth (Empire Series 1)

The reason I am reviewing The Course of Empire now is that the second part The Cruible of Empire will be out next month (March 16, 2010). This is the first book in a series about an alien invasion of earth by the Jao that changes into something else under the pressure of yet another more menacing alien race, the Ekhat bent on exterminating all non Ekhat life from the universe. It holds interesting alien point-of-views (pov), alternatives to violence and an unusual positive treatment of collaborateurs…

… This is one of the best alien point of view stories I have read in a long time, the world is vivid and the characters are easy to love. I got very emotional here and there in the story, especially at the end. I would recommend The Course of Empire to anyone intrested in a good alien point of view story or if you are just looking for good science fiction.

Semper Human by Ian Douglas (William H. Keith) (Inheritance Trilogy 3)

This is the last book in a Marine Corps Saga spanning thousands of years and three trilogies. The Trilogies are first Heritage, then Legacy and finally The Inheritance Trilogy. It is an epic military saga about the Marine Corps and the Garroway family that serves in it…

… The whole series is a great homage to the Marines, where every man is a rifleman first. It is a strong moral story about standing up for your team and your ideals. It also have great world-building and believable science within the fiction. You should read the other books in the Inheritance Trilogy before Semper Human, there is lots of references. I strongly recommend the whole series to any lover of military science fiction and space opera.

The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

It’s been said that John Brunner invented the term “worm” for a program that replicates itself on a network in this proto-cyberpunk novel from 1975.

The first half of the novel had me wondering if this was way to intelligent for me, then the fog lifted, the wow feelings started to hit me. This is a great novel! It involves the Brain Race, a development from the previous Arms Race. Every superpower collect their own brain resources and develop them at great cost in institutions like Tarnover to handle the out of control speed of change in society. The novel addresses many of the problems with the ever faster changing world that are still valid today. Especially in the area of mental health…

… The Shockwave Rider impressed me with its content and how the pieces fell into place in the story and it became great. It is a few years old but much of what it tells are still valid. Read it if you can get hold of it.

Coyote Horizon by Allen Steele (Coyote 6)

Humanity meets aliens in Spindrift (4) where the Hjadd saves the day and we learns to know them better in Galaxy Blues (5) when we go and trade with them. Contact with another technologically more advanced civilization always leads to change. This time the contact is with an interstellar multi-specie civilization whose very existence challenge many of our traditional belief systems. The planet Coyote become much more than a safety vault for the overpopulated and ecologically devastated home planet. It becomes a focal point of the whole human civilization when the Hjadd sets up there embassy there and not on Earth.

This book is concurrent in parts with Galaxy Blues (5). It is a two book story the last part Coyote Destiny (7) is published in March 2010…

… I like the characterization in the beginning of the book. The world building is good, it’s one of Allen’s strengths. The storyline was clear and easy to follow. I am not so hot on this many protagonists and switching back and forth between them. It works but I personally would have preferred a more central protagonist, but that’s just me. I liked the book in general and it is a good read you don’t want to put it down…

… The book ends with a cliffhanger but you don’t have to wait long to read the last part of this story. Publication is next month. You can start reading about Coyote with this book but you you misses a lot of the backstory if you haven’t read volume 1-3.

Pleasure Model by Christopher Rowley (Netherworld Trilogy 1)

Rook Venner bring the evidence home, said evidence being Plesur, a pleasure model with long golden hair, deep blue eyes, a pert little nose and large mouth loaded with heavy lips that works like triggers on the heterosexual male mind all packed into a gorgeous young body, to protect her from rape. Only to wake up in the middle of the night by a phone call telling him to get out NOW!

Presenting Heavy Metal Pulp, a new line of novels combining noir fiction with fantastic art featuring the themes, story lines, and graphic styles of Heavy Metal magazine…

… The book doesn’t end with a Cliff hanger but leaves enough unresolved that I long for the next volume. I enjoyed the fast paced illustrated action packed spicy Pleasure Model immensely. It is a good read. It lacks somewhat in depth that can be remedied by checking out Rowley’s homepage. I would recommend it to any adult science fiction fan. I myself can’t wait until I have read the next two Netherworld books. I wonder when they will be out?

Live Free or Die by John Ringo (Troy Rising 1)

This is the first book in a new series called Troy Rising. It is an alien invasion Space Opera with an unlikely hero…

Live Free or Die is an amusing Space Opera with a bit sketchy characters and world building but quite enjoyable. I would recommend it to readers of military science fiction with a sense of humor. I will definitely buy the rest of the series as soon as it is available.

Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams (Autumn Rain 1)

This is the action packed first book in a new cyber-thriller series, Autumn Rain.

It starts out as one of those super action packed first scenes in a Hollywood Block Buster but here it feels like it never stops. Put a handful major characters, one mega conspiracy or two and the intrigue and mysteries of a Le CarrĂ© cold war spy thriller into the mix and splatter it out on a canvas of world-wide insurrection, high technology and dystopian cityscapes and you have a feeling what this book is…

… Mirrored Heavens is a strong first novel by David J. Williams. He presents a chilly future high-tech world of espionage and double crossing that is more than entertaining, the characters are not very deep and at times the plot might feel a bit over complex at times but so far I like it. I already have volume 2 Burning Skies here waiting. I can recommend it if you like fast paced cyber thrillers.

Starbound by Joe Haldeman

Starbound left me conflicted, I have had to have a few days to think it over before writing a review. After the human race’s near extinction from an exploding martian the earth authorities decide to send an expedition after the mysterious Other’s starship that left the solar system heading for what might be the Others home world…

… not a bad book, nor an excellent, it is somewhere in between for me. It took a little long time before the action started and when it did it was over in no time. I would recommend it if you like mysterious aliens and Defying Gravity-esque personal interaction.

I haven’t read Marsbound, and it it is supposed to be a better read than this one, maybe it suffers from middle-book-itis.

Bitter Angels by C. L. Anderson (Sarah Zettel)

Bitter Angels was written by Sarah Zettel under pseudonym. It’s a military science fiction of sorts with a central murder mystery. And I liked it much more than Kingdom of Cages, which put me off from her, seems I was wrong…

… I liked the mystery part, but it took a bit too long to get to when it started to make sense, around page 300. I wouldn’t mind if the author made faster work of that. It left only 150 pages for the real action and the characters to grow.

Now and then I felt it was too much talks, meetings and dead ends that didn’t bring the story forward, but I might have missed a point or so. It slowed it down from excellent to good in my mind. Bitter Angels is a good mystery-spy science fiction and if you like that it’s a book for you.