Sunday, 30 May 2010
Title: The Engineer ReConditioned
Author: Neal Asher
Publisher: Cosmos Books
Release Date: 14th March 2006
Source: Personal Copy
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
The Engineer Reconditioned is a collection of short stories by sci-fi author Neal Asher, some in his popular Polity Universe, some not. One thing for sure is that it's well worth reading. Here's what's contained in this great collection:
The Engineer - 8/10
The Engineer is the title novella in this collection and is a story about the discovery of a stasis pod that turns out to hold a Jain, an ancient race that is been extinct for millions of years. The story follows the science ship as it discovers the pod, a Polity dreadnought as it attempts to reach the science ship, and a group of mercenaries totally against any alien life and want to destroy the Jain and anyone that has had contact with it.
If you've read any of Neal's other novels you'll know that the Jain are a highly advanced species, and one that has held quite a bit of interest for many within the human domain. The story itself is enjoyable, starting off at a slow pace when the discovery is made and follows through with an interesting and action packed finale. I think this is a story to read if you're familiar with Neal's previous novels set in the Polity, but not one for newcomers as it does throw you in at the deep end when it comes to prior knowledge of the setting, although some aspects have small explanations.
Snairls - 7/10
Another Polity story, and one focusing on a character we know from The Skinner: Janer. He's still indentured to the hornet hive mind in this one and it's a look at another weird alien creation from Neal. It's not too long, but is Neal through and through, although it contains no action as such.
Spatterjay - 9/10
This is a short story that I really recommend as an intro to the Spatterjay series (The Skinner, Voyage of the Sable Keech, Orbus). It has Erlin, a character from The Skinner, in and we also get to encounter the Skinner himself. It's a great little story and one of the highlights of the collection.
Jable Sharks - 7/10
Another weird one from Neal, but I couldn't be sure if its Polity or not. It sounds like a Spatterjay based story, but clearly isn't, although it is set on a boat and features a creature from the sea. A nice little ending rounds it off as a solid entry.
The Thrake - 7/10
This is one of Neal's stories that has religion as one of the central themes, and I must admit that I do quite like it. It has that 'I'm right because I'm religious' feel to it and the central character always finds ways to justify what he sees as a sign of sentience and religion when the scientists actually know the truth, but he just refuses to believe them.
Proctors - 10/10
Here's the first of three Owner stories in this collection, and probably my favourite stuff Neal has ever done. This one introduces the idea of the Owner and his Proctors which enforce his rules on his planets. The setting is not a high tech one, more like mid-20th century tech in a low population world. One of his rules is that the population of the planet is to not go above a certain amount and when it does the Proctors turn killers to bring the population back down to the required level - one of the reasons they are feared so much. The story follows a couple of groups of activists that go searching for a spaceship that has been seen to land near their town, the first group wanting it for themselves and the second in an attempt to stop them. I love this one!
The Owner - 10/10
The second Owner story and another gem in the collection. This one follows a widow and her daughter with her servant and son while they try to escape those that want to kill them. A code of honour on how they can be challenge is evident from the start and when they meet a new companion, the Daybreak Warrior, the story shifts a gear and more of the Owner's history is revealed. Once again I loved this story and have no issues with it in any way, very, very highly recommended.
The Torbeast's Prison 6/10
This story is related to Neal's novel, Cowl. It's a time travelling story following one man as he shifts from tiem to time trying to escape his inevitable destiny. There's a nice twist to the tale, but ultimately I found it to be the weakest on offer here.
Tiger Tiger - 10/10
The third and final Owner story in the collection. This one is more focused on one of the Owner's rules on the planet: 'Man must not kill tiger and tiger will not kill man.' However, a tiger is killed and many of the residents in the village are fearful of the retribution that will come. Again, Neal has developed a deeper history of the Owner and done so in a great and very interesting way. There are some nice little revelations about the characters and the twist in the tale is not overly unexpected, but brings about a very satisfying conclusion.
The Gurnard - 7/10
The final story in the collection is another looking at religion, but also bring in one of Neal's staples to his writing - alien organism's. There is also a character from Neal's novels here - Erlin - who is studying the gurnard of the title and the religion that has grown around it. It's an interesting story and gives a good look at what the less developed cultures of the Polity are like, especially those around religion. Erlin's perspective is a good addition and made the story worthwhile, at least from the point of view of getting explanations to the central plot.
While The Engineer ReConditioned is a good collection, it's because of three stories that I consider this to be a must-have for any sci-fi fan - The Owner stories. I can't stress enough how amazing I find them and I rate them as my all time favourites. Really, they are that good. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the stories present here will be great for anyone who is familiar to Neal's writing, most of them very accessible to those new to Neal Asher, but it's because of the Owner ones that this totally unmissable.
Friday, 28 May 2010
Darian Frey is down on his luck. He can barely keep his squabbling crew fed and his rickety aircraft in the sky. Even the simplest robberies seem to go wrong. It's getting so a man can't make a dishonest living any more. Enter Captain Grist. He's heard about a crashed aircraft laden with the treasures of a lost civilisation, and he needs Frey's help to get it. There's only one problem. The craft is lying in the trackless heart of a remote island, populated by giant beasts and subhuman monsters.I saw this over at Speculative Horizons and wanted to post it here too, seeing as its right up there with my most anticipated books of the year. I loved Retribution Falls (review), the first book telling the tale of the crew of the Ketty Jay, and thought the setting, story and characters were great. The Black Lung Captain is due in July from Gollancz and I'll be making sure I get around to it as soon as possible!
Dangerous, yes. Suicidal, perhaps. Still, Frey's never let common sense get in the way of a fortune before. But there's something other than treasure on board that aircraft. Something that a lot of important people would kill for. And it's going to take all of Frey's considerable skill at lying, cheating and stealing if he wants to get his hands on it . . .
Strap yourself in for another tale of adventure and debauchery, pilots and pirates, golems and daemons, double-crosses and double-double-crosses. The crew of the Ketty Jay are back!
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Here's the cover and synopsis for the limited edition hardback that Subterranean Press will be releasing later this year for The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F Hamilton. It follows the same style as The Reality Dysfunction so will look very nice on my shelf next to it! Also, sounds like they're going to do The Naked God and combine A Second Chance at Eden and The Confederation Handbook into one volume. Here's what they've said:
Now the primeval evil has left Lalonde behind to spread its malign presence across the unsuspecting worlds of the Confederation. The possessed have acquired a chilling range of superhuman powers that can defeat most conventional weapons. Technology cannot defeat them. Fear multiplies like wildfire across the planets and asteroid settlements which make up the Human Confederation, the precursor to conquest and surrender. But even surrender fails to bring an end to the torment, for the possessed will not stop their campaign until their victory is absolute, with every living human taken.
Against this force the Confederation Navy is struggling to contain the threat, a battle it will ultimately lose. It seems as if individuals can make very little difference. Then out of history, Dr Alkad Mzu returns with the Neutronium Alchemist, the single most destructive weapon ever built. And she is determined to use it to avenge the death of her homeworld. It falls on Captain Joshua Calvert to try and stop her, but he’s not the only one hunting her down in an increasingly lethal universe. And not everyone thinks the doomsday device should be neutralized.
Here’s Tomislav Tikulin’s cover to Peter F. Hamilton’s enormous (930 pages) space opera, The Neutronium Alchemist, which is part two of his Night’s Dawn Trilogy.
Everything on Neutronium is right on schedule for publication this fall. The book has been completely designed and proofread, and we’re sending out to have ARCs printed. All that remains is for us to get the signature pages to the author to sign. After that, we plan to begin work on volume three, The Naked God. It also looks as though we’ll be doing a fourth volume, this one gathering all of the short stories contained in Another Chance at Eden, as well as the associated Confederation Handbook.
If that’s not enough Peter Hamilton for you, we’re also talking about another project we’ll be able to announce as soon as contracts are signed.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Title: The Desert Spear
Author: Peter V Brett
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 5th April 2010
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
Continuing the impressive debut fantasy series from author Peter V. Brett, The Desert Spear is book two of the Demon trilogy, pulling the reader into a world of demons, darkness and heroes.
The Deliverer has returned, but who is he? Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet’s Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour. But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer’s tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague… and anyone else who stands in his way.
I really can't put into words how eager I was for The Desert Spear to be released this year. I loved The Painted Man (review) when I read it last year, and The Great Bazaar short collection (review) just whetted my appetite for it even more. In my eyes there was a lot of pressure on Brett to deliver (no pun intended) a superior novel that would build on the foundations of The Painted Man, but I can't deny that I had a slight worry that it would fall short of my huge expectations. As soon as it arrived in early April I put everything else to one side to get it read, which I did in a couple of sessions - it's that enjoyable!
The format Brett used in The Painted Man following the lives of the main characters from childhood onwards is once again present here, but this time we get to see the history of a familiar, but now much more important, character - Jardir, the self-proclaimed Deliverer and leader of the Krasian people. The first couple of hundred pages focus on Jardir and the Krasian culture that is brutal to the core. I knew that this was the case before picking up The Desert Spear and, to be honest, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it. Jardir was a character in The Painted Man that I did not like, he seemed arrogant and uncaring towards Arlen during the time when Arlen used the old combat warded spear. However, these early glimpses into his life made him a character that turned out to be more than I expected, his culture leading him to the man he is.
The Krasian culture that is presented is truly a brutal and unforgiving one. Children are taken from their families at a young age to undergo years of training and practice at fighting the demons, eventually allowing them to take part in the battle and the chance at an honourable death. The treatment of women and outcasts is a stark reminder that this is a most unpleasant culture to grow up in. Brett's prose is extremely easy to read, and I felt that these subjects were well portrayed given the society. It's not a nice thing to read about at all, but in context it works and shows us just how unforgiving the Krasian ways are.
Once this back story is done we return to the present with the events of The Painted Man only recently taken place. This is where the pace and format takes a different direction, following each of the main characters - Arlen, Leesha, Rojer and Jardir - as they continue on their respective paths in the world.
Jardir is now taking his army across the desert to the green lands to unite the people of the world under his rule to fight the demons. But it is done in typical Krasian fashion, conquering rather than by diplomatic means. It's done well and it's done unforgivingly, Brett not hesitant to use the less favourable aspects of the Krasian society in his narrative. Leesha and Rojer are still at Deliverer's Hollow, rebuilding and expanding it after the events at the climax of The Painted Man. With Jardir's army marching on the free cities many travel to Deliverer's Hollow in the hope of finding a safe place to stay during the strife that is facing the lands, and in doing so cause the village to swell in numbers and struggle to cope with the influx. Arlen is still travelling the land and slaying demons at night, but he's struggling to come to terms with what he has become, and the discovery of Jardir's plans do nothing to improve his mood.
While the demons take a back seat to some extent here, there is a very important addition to their numbers - the demon prince. Introduced in the first chapter, it adds another depth to that side of the story and raises many questions about the nature of the corelings. It does feel like a side story due to the main events of the novel, but it's an aspect of The Desert Spear that works in its favour, adding to the mythos but never quite taking centre stage.
The speed at which the story unfolds is also very different to The Painted Man. Instead of focusing on the important events from the characters past with large leaps forward in time, the story takes a slower approach and takes place over only a few months. While this does slow down the story, it helps it in many ways. We start to get a deeper understanding of the characters and their motivations rather than building them from scratch as happened in The Painted Man. I liked this approach and felt that it enhanced the story rather than detracted from it, building to a climax that will make the third book, The Daylight War, one of my most anticipated books when it gets its release.
Overall The Desert Spear is successful at what it does, building a picture of a world thrown into chaos by an impending war with the Krasians, a war that could not come at a worst time. Brett's prose is improved this time around and goes to show that he's not just a one hit wonder. His skill at telling the story is always masterful and at times completely absorbing. I really can't recommend this highly enough.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Title: Fallen DragonAuthor: Peter F Hamilton
Publisher: MacmillanFormat: Hardback
Release Date: 12th October 2001
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
I usually start off by giving the publisher's synopsis for the book I'm reviewing, but in this case I consider it inaccurate and containing too many spoilers. Instead I'll summarise it myself :)
Lawrence Newton was born into a board family on the colony world of Amethi, a planet that required long-term investment and global warming in order to melt its ice and make it comfortably habitable for humans. He dreams of life among the stars, exploring and searching for new planets for the human race to colonise, but the reality of current starflight expeditions is bleak. When events in his life lead to a discovery that could allow him to fulfill his dream he heads to Earth in the hopes of realising it.Fallen Dragon is the only real stand alone space opera that Peter F Hamilton has written. His series' to date are huge multi-volume affairs that are as impressive as they are ambitious. Therefore, taking his skill and applying it to a stand alone book was always going to have an interesting result. Not only does he manage to keep the sense of wonder that he has in his trilogies and series, but he does so with flair and style, bringing the military SF of old up to speed in only the way he can.
Fast forward to the present and Lawrence Newton is part of Zantiu-Braun's strategic security division, travelling to planets to realise assets in order to bring profit back to the owning company. With starflight too expensive to justify trade between the planets that humanity inhabit this is the only way to gain any sort of income from these worlds. Arriving at Thallspring, Zanitu-Braun's forces soon discover that there is an underground movement that is causing them serious harm, but doing so without raising many questions and in such a way that ZB's only action against such defiance, the collateral necklace, cannot by justifiably used.
But this is not the first time Lawrence has been to Thallspring. On a previous mission he discovers that things are not quite as they seem in the hinterlands around Memu Bay, and with hindsight realises that their is unknown wealth in the region, a discovery that Zantiu-Braun is unaware of. As Lawrence and his platoon face the ever growing resentment that the locals have against ZB, struggle on the streets from day to day and have to live with decisions made from on high, the time is drawing close when he can make his move and finally realise his dreams.
The universe that Hamilton has created here is bleak and unforgiving. Interstellar travel is expensive and trade between planets is impracticable, never really justifying the cost. There is travel between planets, though not very often and usually at great cost to those wishing to make the journey. The companies that started and funded colonies find themselves in massive debt because of this - there is no way for them to maintain them during the phases of development require until they are fully self sustaining. Enter companies like Zantiu-Braun, they buy these colony worlds from the debt ridden founding companies so they can 'realise assets' from the planets they take control of. Essentially, it's piracy. Their security division supplies the brawn to enforce cooperation and they walk away with as much as they can.
Technology wise, Fallen Dragon is a true military sf novel. The skin suits (and their predecessors) are awesome and show just how unstoppable the technology can be, even if it has it's weaknesses when put against superior technology. The ftl of the starships, and that of the one-shot wormholes fits well into a story that has humanity at the top of their technological level. There isn't too much in here that is surprising, most of the tech that's in Fallen Dragon is a believable extrapolation of the technology of today, and applied well throughout.
As for the story, it's a very character focused affair with Lawrence Newton the main protagonist. The novel is split into three distinct sections - the here and now following Newton and the asset realisation of Thallspring; Newton's past and the events leading up to the present; and a plot thread that follows Denise and the attempts of the Thallspring natives (or at least a select few) to disrupt the operations of Zantiu-Braun to their own ends. Both the present story focusing on Newton and Denise run side by side and are interspersed with Newton's history and previous missions.
Hamilton is very capable at melding these stories to form a coherent whole and manages to stay focused on the plots at hand, never straying into needless side plots. There are times when his storytelling prowess is at its best - the sections where Denise tells a tale of the ancient Ring Empire springs instantly to mind - and I found Fallen Dragon to be a most enjoyable story. Lawrence Newton is a character with motivations that are relatable, although sometimes I questioned why he acted in the way he did during his formative years, but at the end of the day that's why the story is successful - it manages to convey a real sense of character growth which isn't limited to Newton. Going into too much detail will take away from the enjoyment of the novel, and enjoyment is what this novel is about.
Personally I find Fallen Dragon to one of Peter's strongest novels to date and is certainly the starting point I would recommend to anyone new to his work. While it doesn't have the scope of his previous Night's Dawn Trilogy, nor the cast of characters I've come to expect from his latest works (the Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy), it delivers a solid and thoroughly enjoyable story. Well worth the effort and time, and very, very highly recommended.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Title: The Great Bazaar & Other StoriesAuthor: Peter V Brett
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release Date: 31st January 2010
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. Each night, the world is overrun by demons—bloodthirsty creatures of nightmare that have been hunting and killing humanity for over 300 years. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once proud civilization, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel the demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers brave the night to keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace.When I read The Painted Man last year it became one of my favourite books I'd ever read. It had everything I wanted and Peter V Brett told the story in such a way that I just couldn't put it down until I reached the last page. The sequel, The Desert Spear, became one of the top three books I was looking forward to this year, but when Subterranean Press announced The Great Bazaar I knew I had to have it. Fortunately I managed to get my order in and when it arrived I quickly managed to get over my fanboy giddiness and jumped straight into it. It was just what I needed to tie me over until The Desert Spear hit the shelves!
But there was a time when the demons were not so bold. A time when wards did more than hold the demons at bay. They allowed man to fight back, and to win. Messenger Arlen Bales will search anywhere, dare anything, to return this magic to the world.
Abban, a merchant in the Great Bazaar of Krasia, purports to sell everything a man’s heart could desire, including, perhaps, the key to Arlen’s quest.
To make things clear, The Great Bazaar is a short novella, but also contained here are two deleted scenes from the novel along with an appendix of Krasian phrases and what they mean plus a section on the various wards in the world of the Demon Cycle. Because of this it's very difficult to go into too much detail without spoiling anything for those that haven't read it. However, here's a short bit about each of them:
The Great Bazaar
The highlight of this short book by far. It follows Arlen during his messenger days before he finds the old combat wards. It revolves around the Krasian city of the Desert Spear where Arlen once again meets up with Abban who provides him with details of a deserted Krasian settlement about a weeks journey from Krasia itself. Abban promises great finds here and specifies just what he could find, but not all is as easy as it seems and Arlen find himself caught off guard when he reaches the place Abban has told him about.
I really, really enjoyed this short story and thought it proved a very good foundation to head into The Desert Spear. Not only that, but seeing some more of a younger, pre-painted man Arlen was good. It also shows a little more of the relationship he has with Abban as well as a little more detail about the Krasian society. Loved it.
One deleted scene from The Painted man is just a little more character development for Leesha, but it works well and, in my opinion at least, could easily have been present in the first book. The second is Brett's original opening chapter of The Painted Man, following Arlen as a child as he spends the day outside travelling as far as he dares from his home before turning around and returning before the fall of night. I think this scene was right to be cut from the final product as it's a little too different to fit in well.
The Krasian and Wards appendices are also a nice little touch, but ultimately they don't have the must-read factor of the main story present here. Worth seeing though and it makes up the pages in what could have been a too-short book.
I'm, as previously stated, a huge fan of The Painted Man, so my opinion of this will be biased. The Great Bazaar is worth reading and is a stand-out story that really hits the mark. It could also be seen as a good introduction the the series, although I would recommend reading The Painted Man first. My only disappointment is that it's such a short collection. The 'other stories' of the title is a little misleading as they are simply a couple of deleted scenes and I would have loved to see another couple of stories focusing on Arlen's messenger days here. Also, Brett's introductions and reasons why the scenes are a nice inclusion and add that little extra to the collection.
At the end of the day I came away full satisfied and as a fan of Brett's work I would recommend this in a heartbeat to other fans. It's worth the price and, as always with Subterranean Press' releases, it's a high quality book. Fans should check it out for sure.
For those interested you should really check out Peter V Brett's site where you can find the two above excisions along with some others from The Painted Man.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Once they pushed bigships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum. But faster than light isn’t fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undisclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph’s future. What he cannot anticipate is its universal importance – nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world.Eric Brown in an SF novelist that has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I loved his Bengal Station trilogy (Necropath, Xenopath and Cosmopath), his Kethani collection of stories that focuses on first contact, even his first published novel, Meridian Days, hit the right notes with me. So it's with great pleasure that I see Engine Man get a re-release in October through Solaris books.
Engineman is a thrilling action adventure by the author of Helix and Kethani. Also in this volume are nine stories set in the Engineman universe, including the Interzone award winning ‘The Time-Lapsed Man.’
Once again this is a collection of stories set in a shared universe, much like Kethani and The Fall of Tartarus (a book I'm currently reading). I have to rate Eric Brown as one of the best short story writers - hell, one of the best writers, period - in the genre and his human touch to the future settings he creates just hits the mark every single time.
I've got two more of Eric's books on my shelf (Penumbra and Starship Summer) and they'll more than likely be in my next few reads. I can't recommend Eric Brown highly enough and I consider it a tragedy if you've not read his work.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Title: 40 Years
Author: Bernd Struben
Publisher: Strider Nolan Media
Release Date: 1st December 2008
For twelve hundred years humanity has raced against the alien Pfrlanx to secure the galaxy's last habitable planets at any cost. Humanity's Soldiers - the Augmented Combat Personnel - are bioengineered to be the finest warriors Earth has ever known. They are kept in stasis for years on end, awakened only to fight for new ground.You know, there are often times when I get a book through the post, one I've not heard of before, and think - shall I or shan't I? This was the case with 40 Years by Bernd Struben from Strider Nolan Media. The cover didn't really appeal to me and pique my interest that much, but reading the blurb did. It sounded like the sort of book I would enjoy and I instantly thought of John Scalzi's Old Man's War books, a series I've enjoyed immensely. 40 Years is also a fairly short novel, standing at just shy of 200 pages, so when I browsed my to-read stack this stood out as one I should try - I wasn't going to lose much by giving it a shot. I can honestly say that I was so glad I did decide to pick it up - it's a quick read that packs so much into it's pages and left me wanting more!
Using overwhelming military might, the ACP brutally subdue the inhabitants of each new planet prior to human settlement. The Pfrlanx alternative is far worse, as the alien conquerors methodically eradicate each world's population before moving in.
When the inhabitants of a remote planet 40 years from the nearest military Staging Area refuse to surrender despite staggering losses, the ACP Soldiers are forced to contemplate Pfrlanx-style genocide. With the fate of billions in his hands, veteran commander Brink D'Mar desperately searches for other options.
But time is running out.
Brink D'Mar is the commander we follow through 40 Years as the ACP arrive at a new planet ripe for the taking. The usual tactics of suppression don't work and the ACP find themselves in a bitter fight against the natives who just don't want to give up their land. While humanity's enemy, the Pfrlanx, choose to genocide a native population in order to gain access to the planet and its resources, this is not something humanity does, instead preferring to oppress the population before taking control of the planet, leaving the natives alive and consigned to specific areas. Not used to fighting this sort of war they have to make some choices that not everyone agrees with, but they make a discovery that surprises even them.
The first thing I have to say about 40 Years is that it is a well written novel that makes you want to read more. Bernd Struben has done an excellent job of portraying the ACP forces and the natives, leaving much to be embraced about the story. The action is fast and furious, well thought out and not unreasonable, while the society presented on the planet is strange, yet relatable. He's created some good aliens here, but much of the story focuses on D'Mar and the choices both made by him and the ACP force as a whole.
One of the questions I found he handled particularly well was that of genocide - is it right, why should it be done and what would the consequences of such an action be. The Pfrlanx are spoken about many times and the overall impression is that they do not care about the inhabitants of the planets they take and annihilate them all to take the system as their own, a point that humanity make when trying to talk to the natives of the planet they are invading. We also have a character that is tired of the wars that humanity are fighting and instead want to live side by side with the aliens they meet rather than above them, something that gives the reader that other perspective that is needed in a story of this type.
Speaking of characters, Struben has a variety here that all work together as part of a unit, and as part of the hierarchy of a military force. There's the group that is tiring of the way life is going, while others strictly adhere to the orders given by their superiors. The interactions and discussions that go on are interesting and varied, helping to flesh out both the characters and the story.
Suffice to say that Bernd Struben has delivered an impressive novel, full of military action, good characters, believable conditions and interesting storylines. There's talk of a sequel to this book and I'll be making damned sure I pick it up as soon as humanly possible! Great stuff.
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
Thursday, 6 May 2010
The first Turing gate, a mere hundred nanometers across, is forced open in 1963, at the high-energy physics laboratory in Brookhaven; three years later, the first man to travel to an alternate history takes his momentous step, and an empire is born.Pyr Books have recently put their schedule up for 2010/2011 and one of the books that instantly caught me eye, mainly because it's the only sci-fi one in the schedule, is Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley. I like this cover a lot and think the blurb also makes it a high priority read for me. This has been released in the UK before, so I may well be picking it up sooner than the Jan 2011 date that Pyr has down.
For fifteen years, the version of America that calls itself the Real has used its Turing gate technology to infiltrate a wide variety of alternate Americas, rebuilding those wrecked by nuclear war, fomenting revolutions and waging war to free others from Communist or Fascist rule, and establishing a Pan-American Alliance. Then a nation exhausted by endless strife elects Jimmy Carter on a reconstruction and reconciliation ticket, the CIA's covert operations are wound down, and the Real begins to wage peace rather than war.
But some people believe that it is the Real's manifest destiny to impose its idea of truth, justice and the American way in every known alternate history, and they're prepared to do anything to reverse Carter's peacenik doctrine. When Adam Stone, a former CIA field officer, one of the Cowboy Angels who worked covertly in other histories, volunteers for reactivation after an old friend begins a killing spree across alternate histories, his mission uncovers a startling secret about the operation of the Turing gates, and leads him into the heart of an audicious conspiracy to change the history of every America in the multiverse -- including our own.
Cowboy Angels is a vivid, helter-skelter thriller in which one version of America discovers the true cost of empire-building, and one man discovers that an individual really can make a difference.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Here's the latest in the completely and utterly awesome series of new covers that Jon Sullivan has been doing for Neal Asher's books, this time it's Voyage of the Sable Keech (Tor UK) that gets the treatment.
Thoughts? Well, I love it. The ship, the Sable Keech, takes centre stage on this one and I think Jon Sullivan has done a very good job of it. I must admit that I was crossing my fingers that we'd get the scene where the Old Captains pull the ship onto a beach, but this is definitely a good representation of what's within the pages.
Another sterling cover - I think I may be very disappointed once they're all done and I won't have any more to look forward to...