The Line of Polity by Neal Asher

the-line-of-polityAnother review I neglected to put up when it went up on SFFWorld in May. But still, Neal Asher’s The Line of Polity was much more enjoyable for me on the re-read. Reviews for the other three in the series are being finalised and should be going live this month too – remember to check back for them :)

The Line of Polity is the second novel in Neal Asher’s Cormac series, preceded by Gridlinked(review) and picking up events a short while after its conclusion. As I approached the Cormac re-read this was the one book I didn’t know how I’d like this time around. When I initially tried to read it I was put off by my view of the setting and somewhat strong religion-bashing theme that is rather heavy handed during the early chapters. However, for my second attempt I managed to put these to one side and I powered through it, enjoying the story that Asher told. This third time, some 6 years after reading it, I was aware of my first impression all that time back, yet I knew that what awaits me after this book pushed me through without any qualms. And I found that there was much more to enjoy than my faulty memory allowed…

Overall I enjoyed The Line of Polity enough not to let that one issue affect my feelings about the book too much. It’s got more of Asher’s hallmarks present that we didn’t entirely see in Gridlinked, in the weird and lethal wildlife of Masada. It’s also, in hindsight, one of the more important books in Asher’s Polity milieu (for reasons/spoilers that I won’t go into here). With a good focus on both the big picture and events on the ground it’s hard to fault much, though the distinct lack of answers from the end of Gridlinked still lingers. Regardless, a solid entry in the series and a damn good SF novel. Recommended.

Gridlinked by Neal Asher

gridlinkedWhile getting my review for Neal Asher’s The Line of Polity ready I realised I never posted a link to the first in the Cormac series, Gridlinked. So, without further ado, here it is :)

I’ve been a fan of Neal Asher’s work for many years, though I can’t remember which of his books I first picked up. However, I do know that it wasn’t his debut, Gridlinked, the first Agent Cormacnovel – this book came a little after discovering Asher’s work. As time has passed I’ve made my way through all of his releases, the majority of which are set in his vividly realised and completely packed Polity universe. While there are a couple of stories outside of this setting – notably hisOwner trilogy – Asher will always be best known for the Polity. I decided that it was high time to revisit these books and go back to the beginning…

So, Gridlinked is the kind of novel that should appeal to many sci-fi readers. It’s got action, intrigue, strange aliens, and powerful AI’s, but it also has some interesting characters that drive the plot forward at speed, all the while making you want to find out just what happens next. As his debut novel, Gridlinked is the perfect place to start with Asher’s work, and most definitely recommended.

Vanguard by Jack Campbell

vanguard-usThe newest novel in Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet universe hit the shelves this week, and to mark such an occasion my review is up at SFFWorld! This entry is slightly different given it’s a prequel to the Lost Fleet books, and set hundreds of years earlier prior to the formation of the Alliance and Syndicate Worlds. A great read, good for fans and newcomers alike!

With the introduction of the jump drive humanity have started spreading out further amongst the stars, leaving Earth and the Old Colonies – those settled by sub-ftl means – many light years away. Glenlyon is one such colony, a new venture by those wanting to start out anew. But all is not smooth sailing, for other colonies in that area of space are not so civil, striking out at these newer colonies and trying to assert power over them, either by blackmail or force. When this happens to Glenlyon they are not left with much choice, though a former Navy lieutenant, Robert Geary, is called on for advice and to help out if he can. Along with computer whiz Lyn ‘Ninja’ Meltzer, Glenlyon are able to not only fend off the attack, but also capture the starship sent to threaten them. What follows is a look at how these new colonies deal with the threats they face, and just how far these forces are willing to go to subvert planets to their control.

I love the Lost Fleet books. In fact, I love Jack Campbell’s book, both under this pseudonym and as John G Hemry (his JAG in Space books are criminally underrated). Vanguard is another winner for me, both as a prequel series and as a fresh start. It’s got that excellent readability that is present in all Campbell’s novels, and when the story is itself engrossing you just can’t lose. Vanguard also has the added benefit of being a great place for newcomers to join, as well as ticking off many of the much-needed points for Lost Fleet fans. In short, highly recommended.

The Island Deception by Dan Koboldt

the-island-deceptionLast week my review of Dan Koboldt’s The Island Deception went up over at SFFWorld. It’s not perfect, but it’s a highly enjoyable novel – I’d definitely recommend reading this series!

The Island Deception is Dan Koboldt’s follow up to his 2016 debut, The Rogue Retrieval (review), and the second novel in his Gateways to Alissia trilogy. I enjoyed The Rogue Retrieval very much when I read it last year, so much so that it made my top 10 books of the year. To therefore say I was looking forward to The Island Deception is an understatement – I couldn’t wait to get back to Alissia and see where Koboldt’s imagination would take me. And I wasn’t disappointed, for within the electronic pages I was carried away to another world, one where magic is real, but so is the danger…

So, my final thoughts on The Island Deception are quite simple: I liked it. A lot. Is it perfect? No, but it does address some issues from the first novel while building a solid base on which to deliver the finale. The short chapters, entertaining characters, and witty dialog certainly helped the pages turn long into the night, and when I finally finished only one thought came to mind: when’s the next one out? In my eyes, when a book leaves you with that feeling you know you’ve got a winner. Recommended.

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

waking-godsI loved Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel’s first Themis Files novel, though I was a little late getting to it. Waking Gods was, if anything, better. My full review is over at SFFWorld, but suffice to say this is one series I recommend!

Waking Gods is the second novel in Sylvain Neuvel’s Themis Files, a series that tells its story through the use of interviews, reports, diary entries, and recordings. I missed the first novel,Sleeping Giants, on its release last year, but when I read it in January it quickly became a favourite and one of the best books I’d read that was published in 2016 – certainly the most intriguing. With that said, and with Waking Gods on the horizon, I knuckled down to wait for its release in the hopes it would answer some questions and deliver more of its distinctive narrative.

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So, Waking Gods is not only a worthy sequel to Sleeping Giants, it’s a great novel in its own right. A good cast of characters that not only tell an interesting story, but one that is near-impossible to put down: this really is some stellar science fiction. I can’t wait to see where Neuvel goes with the next instalment. Highly recommended.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E Taylor

It’s not often that I come across a novel that manages to jump to the top of my to-read list based on few factors, but We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E Taylor (the first book in his Bobiverse) is certainly one of them. I heard about it over on the SFFWorld.com forums where some other members had read it an enjoyed it, and as I have similar tastes to them I knew it was right up my strreet. I decided that this would be an audiobook listen rather than a normal read after listening to the sample and liking what I heard, so off I went… and blasted through the 9 hours 30 minute length in what seemed like a tenth of that time. Continue reading “We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E Taylor”

The Hangman’s Daughter by Gavin Smith

the-hangmans-daughterThe Hangman’s Daughter by Gavin Smith is my latest review over at SFFWorld. Some really good mil-SF going on here, and a nice change to have such an interesting anti-heroine as the protagonist. Great stuff.

I remember when Gavin Smith’s debut novel, Veteran, hit the shelves, and with it came this confident and action-orientated voice that was much fun to read. For reasons that escape me, I never did get around to its sequel, War in Heaven, and while I did try Age of Scorpio, I just couldn’t quite get into it. However, Smith’s latest novel, The Hangman’s Daughter (the first book in theBastard Legion series) jumped out at me the moment I heard about it. Military SF with a twist and some very interesting characters to go along with a plot that begged to be read – this book has pretty much everything I could ask for. And it delivered the goods too…

The publisher touts The Hangman’s Daughter as one for lovers of Suicide Squad and Aliens, both of which ring true as the pages turn, and due to this it will appeal to many readers looking for that bit of SF action, while delivering more than is apparent at first glance. Some great worldbuilding, a varied cast of characters, and a take-no-nonsense anti-heroine make this a novel that is well worth checking out. Recommended.

The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 3 by Sandy Schofield and Stephani Perry

aliens-omnibus-vol-3I was a little behind in getting to the third Aliens Omnibus, but get to it I did! As you can see from my full review at SFFWorld, I did have issues with both novels, but especially with Labyrinth. I’m looking forward ot the next omnibus though, whatever it may bring!

The Complete Aliens Omnibus Volume 3 collects two novels from two different authors: Aliens: Rogueby Sandy Schofield, and Aliens: Labyrinth by S.D. Perry. I’m a big fan of the Aliens universe and have, on the whole, enjoyed the previous two omnibuses despite issues with the last novel. I had hoped that this third omnibus would deliver some great stories, but unfortunately that wasn’t entirely to be the case…

So, another mixed bag for this omnibus edition. Aliens: Rogue has issues, but it ultimately works well, yet Aliens: Labyrinth fails more or less consistently throughout its story. I’m glad I’ve read them both, and I’ll be eager to pick up the next omnibus regardless, but it’s hard not to be disappointed when one of your favourite fictional creations is mishandled.

The Long Road Home Omnibus

the-long-road-homeI’ve been somewhat lax in my Dark Tower re-read of late, mainly due to the operation and subsequent recovery. I’m only just starting to get up to speed on everything, and almost up-to-date on the backlog of reviews. As for this one, well, The Long Road Home was a good story, and a great first original comic run – you can check out my full review at SFFWorld. Looking forward to the next one.

The Long Road Home continues events immediately following The Gunslinger Born, with Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain heading back to Gilead with Maerlyn’s Grapefruit, a magical orb that can have very adverse effects on those who become obsessed with it. With the death of Susan Delgado, Roland is struggling to deal with this loss, and Maerlyn’s Grapefruit only adds to the woes of the ka-tet as Roland enters its depths, leaving his body in a coma while they are chased by a posse from Mejis. While within the realm of the Grapefruit, Roland must fight for his very sanity in order to return to the world of the living…

Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson

last-yearThis week I reviewed Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson over at SFFWorld. Wilson is an author that I’ve not been reading for long, but one that has quickly become a favourite due to his character-focused take on SF – much like another of my favourite authors, Eric Brown. Last Year was a great read that I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did…

Robert Charles Wilson’s latest novel, Last Year, is a strange one: a near future SF novel set in an Illinois of 1876. With the invention of quasi-time-travel and instigated through the use of a multi-storey high ‘mirror’, tourism to the late 19th century is open to 21st century inhabitants. An interesting idea, especially given that the past the mirror opens to is no longer the one of that world, instead an alternate history that diverges from the moment the mirror is opened. Set entirely in the 19th century, Last Year is an SF novel that shouldn’t work quite as well as it does.

I really like what Robert Charles Wilson has done here, giving a character focused SF story that works on many different levels. While the time-travel technology of the near future isn’t explained in any great detail, the world feels thoroughly fleshed out, and also surprisingly familiar. The finale of the novel won’t come as a particular shock, though how it all ties together to feel more intimate than events would suggest is a wonder. Highly recommended.