The Fractal Man (written by J.Neil Schulman, soon to be available on Amazon) is a very, very funny book – if you share enough subcultural history with the author to get the in-jokes. If you don’t – and in particular if you never met Samuel Edward Konkin – the man known as known as “SEKIII”… Continue reading Review: The Fractal Man
Stephen P. Halbrook’s Gun Control in the Third Reich is a book that every advocate of “gun control” in the modern U.S. and elsewhere should read – but almost certainly never will. Most other historians have ignored or outright suppressed the role of weapons law and weapons confiscations in the Nazi imposition of totalitarianism on… Continue reading Review: Gun Control in the Third Reich
Collision of Empires (Prit Buttar; Osprey Publishing) is a clear and accessible history that attempts to address a common lack in accounts of the Great War that began a century ago this year: they tend to be centered on the Western Front and the staggering meat-grinder that static trench warfare became as outmoded tactics collided… Continue reading Review: Collision of Empires
A Call To Duty (David Weber, Timothy Zahn; Baen Books) is a passable extension of Baen Book’s tent-pole Honorverse franchise. Though billed as by David Weber, it resembled almost all of Baen’s double-billed “collaborations” in that most of the actual writing was clearly done by the guy on the second line, with the first line… Continue reading Review: A Call to Duty
The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Peter F. Hamilton, Random House/Del Rey) is a sequel set in the author’s Commonwealth universe, which earlier included one duology (Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained) and a trilogy (The Dreaming Void, The The Temporal Void, The Evolutionary Void). It brings back one of the major characters (the scientist/leader Nigel Sheldon) on a… Continue reading Review: The Abyss Beyond Dreams
Once Dead (Richard Phillips; Amazon Publishing) is a passable airport thriller with some SF elements. Jack Gregory should have died in that alley in Calcutta. Assigned by the CIA to kill the renegade reponsible for his brother’s death, he was nearly succeeding – until local knifemen take a hand. Bleeding, stabbed and near death, he… Continue reading Review: Once Dead
Unexpected Stories (Octavia Butler; Open Road Integrated Media) is a slight but revealing work; a novelette and a short story, one set in an alien ecology among photophore-skinned not-quite humans, another set in a near future barely distinguishable from her own time. The second piece (Childfinder) was originally intended for publication in Harlan Ellison’s never-completed… Continue reading Review: Unexpected Stories
The Gods of War (Graham Brown & Spencer J. Andrews; Stealth Books) is one of the better arguments for the traditional system of publishing-house gatekeepers I’ve seen recently. It is not merely bad, it is a stinkeroo that trumpets its awfulness from page one.
Nexus (Nicholas Wilson; Victory Editing) is the sort of thing that probably would have been unpublishable before e-books, and in this case I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad. There’s a lot about this book that makes me unsure, beginning with whether it’s an intentional sex comedy or a work of naive self-projection by… Continue reading Review: Nexus
Of Bone And Thunder (Chris Evans; Pocket Books) is an object lesson in why fiction writers should avoid political allegory. Yes, it’s a fantasy reflection of the Vietnam War; on the off-hand chance a reader wouldn’t have figured it out by about page 3, the publisher helpfully spells it out in the blurb.
Traitor’s Blade (Sebastian de Castell; Jo Fletcher books) is perhaps best tescribed as a noirish fantasy spin on Dumas’s Three Musketeers. But it’s better, and less derivative, than that sounds.
Big Boys Don’t Cry (Tom Kratman; Castalia House) is a short novel which begins innocently enough as an apparent pastiche of Keith Laumer’s Bolo novels and short stories. Kratman’s cybernetic “Ratha” tanks, dispassionately deploying fearsome weapons but somehow equipped to understand human notions of honor and duty, seem very familiar.
2040 (Graham Tottle; Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd) is a very odd book. Ostensibly an SF novel about skulduggery on two timelines, it is a actually a ramble through a huge gallimaufry of topics including most prominently the vagaries of yachting in the Irish Sea, an apologia for British colonial administration in 19th-century Africa, and… Continue reading Review: 2040
Yesterday’s Kin (Nancy Kress; Tachyon Publications) is a surprisingly pedestrian first-contact novel. Surprisingly because Nancy Kress has done groundbreaking SF in the past. While this novel is competently written, no new ground is being broken here.
The introduction to The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 (Rich Horton, ed.; Prime Books) gave me a terrible sinking feeling. It was the anthologist’s self-congratulatory talk about “diversity” that did it. In the real world, when an employer trumpets its “diversity” you are usually being told that hiring on the basis of actual… Continue reading Review: The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014
World of Fire (James Lovegrove; Solaris) is a a promising start to a new SF adventure series, in which a roving troubleshooter tackles problems on the frontier planets of an interstellar civilization. Dev Harmer’s original body died in the Frontier War against the artificial intelligences of Polis+. Interstellar Security Solutions saved his mind and memories;… Continue reading Review: World of Fire
As I write, the author of The Chaplain’s War (Brad Torgerson; Baen) has recently been one of the subjects of a three-minute hate by left-wingers in the SF community, following Larry Correia’s organization of a drive to get Torgerson and other politically incorrect writers on the Hugo ballot. This rather predisposed me to like his… Continue reading Review: The Chaplain’s War
Nobody will ever confuse Fortunes of the Imperium (Jody Lynne Nye; Baen) with great SF, but it’s a likeable, fluffy little confection of a book that had me thinking “Wodehouse…in…spaaace!”
Solaris Rising 3 (Ian Whates; Rebellion) is billed as an anthology showcasing the breadth of modern SF. It is that; unfortunately, it is also a demonstration that the editor and some of his authors have partly lost touch with what makes science fiction interesting and valuable. As I’ve observed before, SF is not an anything-goes… Continue reading Review: Solaris Rising 3
In Ark Royal (Christopher Nuttall; self-published) the ship of the same name is an obsolete heavy-armored fleet carrier in a future British space navy. The old girl and her alcoholic captain have been parked in a forgotten orbit for decades, a dumping ground for screwups who are not quite irredeemable enough to be cashiered out.… Continue reading Review: Ark Royal