The Rogue Retrieval by Dan Koboldt

the-rogue-retrievalMy latest review is for a portal fantasy/sci-fi novel called The Rogue Retrieval, and a novel I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Head on over to SFFWorld to check it out!

The Rogue Retrieval is Dan Koboldt’s debut novel, a combination sci-fi/fantasy adventure set in a world connected to ours via a portal. Billed as a book that will appeal to fans of Pratchett and Brooks is an apt analogy, though as a reader that isn’t overly familiar with the aforementioned authors I’d make comparisons to Stover’s Acts of Caine series (though much lighter in tone), and even the Stargate TV franchise. It’s a novel that surprised me when I cracked open the digital pages, and one that kept me coming back in ever more frequent visits until the journey was over.

The characters, pacing, and action really work well, and Koboldt has delivered a thrilling novel that has that all too important factor: it’s a page-turner. However, despite how much I enjoyed The Rogue Retrieval, it isn’t without its issues. The world-building for Alissia is far too vague for the most part, and details on the portal are practically non-existent. I would have loved to see more of the history of this place, and while we do learn quite a bit through various discussions, it’s not enough to fully flesh out the setting. With another two books on the way over the next two years (The Island Deception and The World Awakening) I sincerely hope that this aspect is addressed and expanded – the potential is staggering.

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

What if Pearl Harbour never happened? That’s the question that Peter Tieryas answers in United States of Japan, an alternate history that postulates that Japan and Germany won the Second World War. A fan of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Tieryas brings his Asian heritage to the table in a novel that is equal parts thriller and science fiction. Continue reading “United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas”

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-oneI re-read Ready Player One recently and had to update and rewrite my review for it. It’s now live over at SFFWorld, so be sure to check it out to see just how much I love this book.

James Halliday is the creator of the OASIS, initially an MMORPG that has since turned into a bedrock of civilisation: a virtual reality world that everyone uses from an early age. From work to play, the OASIS has anything and everything that anyone could possibly want. When James Halliday dies and his will is announced to the world the OASIS takes on a new fervour to many – the search for Halliday’s Easter eggs with the promise of the ultimate prize at the quest’s end.

With Halliday being an 80’s kinda guy the novel is firmly rooted in that decade as far as the nostalgia, geekiness, and nerdisms go, and with his legacy up for grabs it makes perfect sense that so many people would embrace that era and study it to death. There are things here that go over my head for sure, but I’m geeked up enough to know a great deal of the references and enjoy them fully. The prose oozes charm and nostalgia, and once you start reading you’ll find it nigh on impossible to put it down.

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.