The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

the-nightmare-stacksMy latest review is up over at SFFWorld now, and is for the next Laundry Files novel, The Nightmare Stacks. I had great fun reading this one, and I think I got that across in the review!

The Nightmare Stacks is Charles Stross’ latest – and seventh – instalment in his ever-popularLaundry Files, following on from The Annihilation Score. I’m a big fan of the novels and have read them all over the past couple of years, so the next release is always an event on my calendar. I love Bob Howard and find his point of view (no matter how unreliable, as Stross has said on many occasions) makes for refreshing and enjoyable reading. However, The Annihilation Score moved the narrative voice from Bob to his wife, Dominique “Mo” O’Brien, and it was a switch that didn’t entirely work for me. After reading that I was eager for the next release’s return to Bob, but discovered that The Nightmare Stacks wouldn’t be doing that, instead giving us a brand new point-of-view in Alex Schwartz, a character fans of the series will recall debuted in The Rhesus Chart

Ultimately, The Nightmare Stacks is a return to form, bringing everything I’ve come to love about the Laundry Files in bucket loads. Not only is it an easy and quick read, it’s funny, action-packed, and answers some questions while raising plenty more. Personally I’m very much looking forward to seeing how Stross moves the world forward after the revealing conclusion here.

The Days of Tao by Wesley Chu

the-days-of-taoMy latest review, this time for The Days of Tao by Wesley Chu, is now live over at SFFWorld. Definitely one for fans who want that Tao hit to tide them over until we revisit the setting with his next novel.

The Days of Tao is Wesley Chu’s new story in his Tao setting, and while only a novella it will be a welcome addition to any fans of the series. Set after the events of the final book, The Rebirths of Tao, and before the upcoming first novel in a sequel series, The Rise of Io, Chu returns us to Cameron and Tao in a short adventure that is over all too quickly…

All-in-all The Days of Tao is enjoyable, action-packed, and a blast to read. For fans of the series this really is a must-read, though not one I would recommend to newcomers despite the easy way Chu plays out his narrative.

Roboteer by Alex Lamb

roboteerMy latest review over at SFFWorld is for Roboteer by Alex Lamb, the kind of good old fashioned Space Opera that I love to read. It’s not without its faults, but overall a worthy addition to the genre.

Roboteer is the first book in debut author Alex Lamb’s Roboteer trilogy. Released in 2015, Roboteer is the kind of novel that calls to me to read – it has everything that I want in a science fiction novel. However, despite trying to read it on its release, I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story. With the mass-market paperback out in February 2016, it reminded me to return to the novel and give it another go, hoping that I was in a better frame of mind to enjoy what was on offer. And enjoy it I did, though not without some reservations.

As for the good in Roboteer, well, there is much to praise. Putting aside a story that jumps from event to revelation to event, keeping you guessing and turning the pages, Roboteer is the kind of novel that packs in plenty of science to go with the fiction. From robotics to spaceflight to alien enigmas, not only is there more than enough to please any SF fan, but Lamb weaves it all into a narrative that makes the best use of all the tools at its disposal.

Saturn Run by John Sandford & Ctein

saturn-runWhat happens when an alien spaceship is seen docking with something in Saturn orbit? Well, that’s the question that Saturn Run by John Sandford & Ctein aims to answer. It’s the year 2066 and the race on to reach Saturn and discover just what the mysterious alien craft rendezvoused with before leaving the solar system. With the US and China at odds with one another, each commits their resources to develop and employ technology to get them there first, and each hopeful to stake their claim on whatever awaits them. But politics, planning, and back-stabbing prove to be the ultimate driving force behind both the race to Saturn, the discovery, and subsequent return to Earth.

With a story pulled along by the simple idea of a race to a destination, Saturn Run manages to combine all the elements you could ask for in a science fiction novel. It’s part hard-SF, part character focused, part political thriller, yet it pulls all aspects together to present a coherent whole. Sandford and Ctein have taken the age-old idea of first contact, giving an episodic telling of events up to and beyond said contact, yet turned it into more than the sum of its parts. A blast from start to finish, Saturn Run is definitely a fun read that has plenty of science meat on its fiction bones. Recommended.

Arkwright by Allen Steele

Arkwright is the new novel by Allen Steele, and billed as “both a love-letter to science-fiction field and a terrific cutting-edge hard-SF novel”. High praise indeed, especially given the focus of Arkwright spans generations and light-years, and just how a novel can deliver both aspects is very much a question that needs answering. While it is resoundingly answered by the time the last page is turned, Arkwright is much more than these two things and is, in fact, a gloriously optimistic science fiction story that captivates from early on. Continue reading “Arkwright by Allen Steele”

The Baba Yaga by Eric Brown and Una McCormack

the-baba-yagaMy latest review, this one for The Baba Yaga, is now up over at SFFWorld. It’s a good book and definitely recommended, whether as a previous reader of the Weird Space books or simply a newcomer – either way you’re good to go!

The Baba Yaga is the third novel in the Weird Space setting that was created by Eric Brown for Abaddon Books. While Brown wrote the first two novels – The Devil’s Nebula (review) and Satan’s Reach (review) – Una McCormack is stepping into the fold for this third novel. I was initially drawn to the Weird Space books as a big fan of Eric Brown’s work despite not being entirely convinced about a shared universe series, and it’s only now that the series is fulfilling its promise with the introduction of a new author to it. While I had obvious worries about The Baba Yaga due to this, I really shouldn’t have – McCormack brings a fresh voice to the setting that only builds upon Brown’s foundations.

Nevertheless, The Baba Yaga is an enjoyable novel, and feels like it steps up to the challenge of adding detail to the bigger picture for the Weird Space setting, and certainly more than in Satan’s Reach.

The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 1 by Steve Perry

aliens-omnibusThe first re-release of the older Aliens novels starts with this omnibus, and what a joy it was to read too. I’m a massive fan of the first two Alien films, so reading stories that clearly take inspiration from them was much fun. Check out my review.

The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 1 presents an enjoyable and solid story over the three novels despite some issues that creep in towards the end. It has interesting characters and fascinating world-building, especially when expanding details with the xenomorphs. Given that these novels are now over twenty years old they may be more suited to fans of the series rather than casual readers. I, however, found them to be just what I needed to read – they have a familiarity to them that is comforting, and they tread both new and old ground in doing so.