Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) ★★☆☆½

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Red Sister
Series: Book of the Ancestor #1
Author: Mark Lawrence
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 467
Words: 170K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

The planet Abeth was originally settled by four tribes with various abilities. The hunska have superhuman speed; the gerant have superhuman strength, the marjal can work elemental magic; the quantal can work larger magics. Children born on Abeth may have access to one (or rarely, multiple) bloodline powers. Abeth’s dying red giant sun cannot generate sufficient heat to prevent a global ice age. Abeth’s man-made moon refracts sunlight onto a narrow strip of land circling the globe. This Corridor, only fifty miles wide, is the only unfrozen land on the planet. It comprises several kingdoms fighting for control of the planet’s resources.

Nona Grey is a peasant girl living in a remote village in the Corridor. She is purchased by a slave trader who recognizes that she has hunska blood. She is brought the to capital of the Empire, where she attacks a noble named Raymel Tacsis. She is saved from execution by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy Convent.

Nona trains in the arts of combat and subterfuge at Sweet Mercy. Along the way, she meets fellow novice Arabella (Ara). Various nobles believe that Ara is the Argatha, a savior destined to save Abeth. Abbess Glass convinces the nobility that Nona is the Shield, destined to protect the Argatha. With her training, Nona recognizes that she also has quantal and marjal talents. Nona also meets a mysterious student named Zole and her bodyguard Yisht. Nona realizes that Yisht is attempting to steal a valuable artifact from Sweet Mercy: the shipheart, which was left by the original settlers of Abeth. With four shiphearts, one can control the moon which is protecting Abeth from a permanent ice age. Nona and the other students defeat Yisht and save the shipheart.

In a frame story, an adult Nona and Ara are attacked by members of the Empire’s nobility. They are betrayed by Clera, a former student at Sweet Mercy. Nona attempts to convince Clera to join them against the Empire’s army.

My Thoughts:

Well, this book confirms that Lawrence is an author I cannot read. Between nuns sleeping together, young almost prebuscent girls flirting with each other, psychopathic killers (who aren’t the bad guys), a failing sun, a hopeless world being encased in ice, the devolving of technology and failing technology, plus the absolute soul destroying underlying philosophy, I got a soup that was pretty as anti-me as you could get.

While Nona was more likeable than that hellbound Jorg, she wasn’t really fun to read about either. While I didn’t hate my time reading this, by the end I had to ask myself if I cared about anything in this story enough to want to read another book’s worth (and that’s not taking into account that this is a trilogy). I answered with a resounding “NO!” If there had been even a hint that the “moon” could have been repaired, or that someone had even entertained the idea of repairing it, even that tiny, small shred of hope probably would have been enough to keep me going.

But that was the whole problem I have with Lawrence. There is no hope, anywhere. I looked high, I looked low, I even looked at sub-minor-side characters. No where did I find any hope. All I did find was an existential existence for 10 year old girls who had a choice of being raped/tortured/killed or becoming merciless killers themselves. On the killer side things, there was no justice. There was no Justice because there was no Law. There was no Law because there was no Law Giver.

As much as I despise Lawrence’s philosophy, I do have to admit that he is honest enough to take it to its logical end. It is just that that end is a maelstrom of  death, despair and destruction.

★★☆☆½

To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld #1) ★☆☆☆½

toyourscatteredbodiesgo (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Series: Riverworld #1
Author: Philip Farmer
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 224
Words: 67K

 

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

British adventurer Richard Francis Burton dies on Earth and is revived in mid-air in a vast dark room filled with human bodies, some only half formed. There, he is confronted by men in a flying vehicle who then blast him with a weapon.

He next awakes upon the shores of a mysterious river, naked and hairless. All around him are other people in a similar situation. Shortly after they awaken, a nearby structure, nicknamed a “grailstone,” causes food and other supplies to appear in the “grails” bound to each individual. Burton quickly attracts a group of companions: the neanderthal Kazzintuitruaabemss (nicknamed Kazz), the science fiction author Peter Jairus Frigate, and Alice Liddell. Among these is the extraterrestrial Monat Grrautut, earlier part of a small group of beings from Tau Ceti who had arrived on Earth in the early 21st century. When one of their number was accidentally killed by humans, their spaceship automatically killed most of the people on Earth. Frigate and others alive at the time confirm Monat’s story. Retreating into the nearby woods for safety, Burton’s party chew gum provided by their grails, and discover that this gum is a powerful hallucinogen. As days and weeks pass, people’s physical wants are provided for by the grails, which eventually produce a set of cloths used for clothing. Rumors reach Burton’s region that the river continues seemingly forever. One night, Burton is visited by a mysterious cloaked figure, whom Burton dubs “The Mysterious Stranger,” who explains that he is one of the beings who has constructed this world and resurrected humanity on its shores, and tells Burton to approach the headwaters of the river.

After setting off, Burton’s group encounters many adventures; but are enslaved by a riverbank kingdom run by Tullus Hostilius and Hermann Göring, against whom Burton leads a successful revolt. Göring himself is killed by Alice. After the revolt, Burton is part of the nation’s ruling council. Later, the protagonists discover a person among them who they conclude is an agent of the beings who created this world. Before the man can be questioned, he dies of no apparent cause. An autopsy reveals a small device planted in the man’s brain which apparently allowed him to kill himself at will. Burton is visited by the Mysterious Stranger and is warned that the beings who created this world, to whom the Stranger refers as “Ethicals”, are close to capturing Burton. Desperate to escape, Burton kills himself to be resurrected elsewhere in the river valley, and continues thus to explore it. He often finds himself resurrected near Hermann Göring, who undergoes a moral and religious conversion and joins the pacifist Church of the Second Chance. After many resurrections, Burton finds himself resurrected not in the river but in the Dark Tower at the headwaters, and is interrogated by a council of Ethicals to discover the identity of Burton’s “Mysterious Stranger”. After fruitlessly questioning him, the Ethicals inform him that they will return him to the river valley, remembering nothing of themselves, and restore him to his friends; but the Mysterious Stranger prevents them from removing his memory and Burton resolves to continue pursuing the truth about the Ethicals and their intentions for the Riverworld.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, that was a complete and utter waste of my time. The main character, for someone who is an atheist, sure does blame God for a lot of stuff. Pretty amazing how angry he gets at something that doesn’t exist.

This teetered on the edge of blasphemy at best (blasphemy being defined as speaking against God or making statements about His nature contrary to Scripture (much like the Mormons do)) and really, crossed over enough times with enough spite that I was ready for the book to be done.

Whatever the story, it was overshadowed the whole time by spite and anger against a being the main character kept insisting didn’t exist. I have now read Farmer and found him lacking. I won’t spend any more of my precious time on his stuff.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

The Complete Dreamsongs ★★☆☆½

completedreamsongs (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Dreamsongs
Author: George Martin
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 1146
Words: 494K

 

Synopsis:

Combining Dreamsongs I and Dreamsongs II into one omnibus, this collects the majority of Martin’s short stories from the beginning of his career to its publication date in either 2003 or 2006.

 

My Thoughts:

I really liked how Martin talked about the stage of his life when he wrote each story. It gave some background and made him a person. Even in his own words he comes across as an arrogant jackass and anyone who thinks he’s going to finish Game of Thrones had better look at his own self-proclaimed track record. With that out of the way….

This was some of the best writing I have read in a while. Martin has talent and he’s spent the time honing his skill and it shows. Based on the writing alone, this deserves 5 stars. If you like good story TELLING, then you need to read this.

However, WHAT he writes about is what took this right down to its current rating. Almost every story is sad, melancholic, depressing, horrific or down right twisted. While Sandkings is a fantastic horrorific short story, 1100 pages of that kind of things wears you down. These stories also gave me vivid bad dreams, to the point where I stopped reading this in the evenings.

I read this in small doses (I started in mid-April) and I cannot imagine the affect of trying to read this straight through. I would not recommend that to anyone, no matter how much they might enjoy Martin’s writing. While I plan on re-reading Sandkings every decade or so, I think that will be the limit of my Martin reading. I will assiduously avoid all his others writings.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Flight of the Fox ★★☆☆½

flightofthefox (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Flight of the Fox
Series: ———-
Author: Gray Basnight
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 406
Words: 108K

 

Synopsis:

Sam Teagarden, former math professor and recent widower (his wife died in a car accident that also broke both of Sam’s legs), is attacked by drones and only saved by the heroic sacrifice of his dog. This leads into Sam going on the run and his young neighbor being killed by the assassins after Sam. Said assassins then make it look like Sam did the dirty deed. All the while Sam has no idea why anyone would be doing this, he’s just a math professor.

Turns out Sam was mailed an encrypted document that once he decodes it while on the run, details the love life between J. Edgar Hoover (head of the FBI back in the day) and his second in command. It also details how Hoover uses his position to hire other sexual deviants ostensibly for the FBI but in reality for his own pleasure. There are also references to Operation Over Easy, which is revealed as a secret hit team to take out any internal threat that Hoover considers a danger to the nation. Dangers like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Hemmingway, etc.

The modern day successors to Operation Over Easy, the DFC, are the ones gunning for Sam. With no oversight, they can’t allow the public to find out what their government has been doing for the past 90 years.

Sam outwits them all and releases the information to Congress, after many thrilling adventures and near-death experiences, all the while ostentatiously NOT naming the current President of the United States.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed the story part of this ultra-paranoid thriller. It was fun to read about Sam as he dodges, ducks and weaves his way around, between and through some top notch assassins.

The author is from New York and sadly, his politics get in the way. The one republican shown is a caricature of a conservative christian who ends up practically insane after claiming that keeping the files secret is God’s will. Then you have the democrat who is open, honest and only wants the truth to be told to the American public. What a crock of poo. The author’s hatred of guns comes through loud and clear as well. Only the bad, evil, insane people in the story CHOOSE to use guns. Sam of course, being a paragon of virtue and goodness is FORCED to use guns by the bad, evil, insane people. But he really doesn’t want to, honest. And of course, the tearing down of any authority because they’re secretly corrupt and despotic is pretty standard for a liberal from New York. But the solution? Well, the author’s brand of government of course!

While I enjoyed the story, I won’t be reading any more by Basnight. He is everything that McCarthy was trying to fight against and lost.

★★☆☆½

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Last of the Plainsmen ★★☆☆½

lastplainsmen (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Last of the Plainsmen
Series: ———-
Author: Zane Grey
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Western
Pages: 237
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Grey “chronicles” a time he supposedly had with a man named Jones, a hunter and trapper who tried to trap the animals he hunted so he could domesticate them, whether they were mountain lions or wild ox. Anything but bears.

 

My Thoughts:

This was very much a Man VS Nature story that happened to take place out West (in the United States) and wasn’t what I think of when I think “Western”. There isn’t a single showdown with pistols, no bare knuckle fights, no Indians trying to scalp anyone, no scheming cardsharps, no damsel in distress, no wily saloon keeper with a hidden shotgun behind the bar. None of that.

This is just a boys adventure story about a man who has a lust for trapping animals and domesticating them. The main story was about Grey and Jones and the group Jones had gathered, trying to catch some mountain lions. During that hunt (which lasted several months if not longer) Jones tells stories about himself hunting other animals. Wild stallions, some sort of Indian ox that they considered sacred, bison, etc. There was a lot of adverse Nature conditions which provides most of the tension of the story.

This was not a “bad” book, but once again, Grey doesn’t give me what I was expecting in a Western and as such, I am done reading him. Maybe next year I’ll try Max Brand? I’d like to keep some Westerns in my reading rotation, but I am not willing to sift through L’Amour’s standalones.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Places in the Darkness ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@Page11

placesinthedarkness (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Places in the Darkness
Series: ———-
Author: Chris Brookmyre
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 448/DNF on page 11
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

Main character was talking to her male coworker and brings up the fact he might be leaving the space station to go be with his male partner.

At some point I will simply have to give up on SFF because of the pervasiveness of such perversions presented as normal. I don’t know what my tipping point would be though. A monthly total, a yearly total, something else? I take this subject matter pretty seriously and so I guess I really need to sit down and think about just what my tipping point actually is. I have to admit I’ve been avoiding thinking about it but as this seems to be happening more, I just can’t shrug it off as an aberration on the writer’s part. Giving up a whole genre seems like a lot but at some point the apple is so riddled with worms that it is better to throw the apple away than to try to eat the few remaining good parts.

All choices have consequences.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Dark Sky (Keiko #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@5%

darksky (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Sky
Series: Keiko #2
Author: Mike Brooks
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 352/DNF@5%
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

Captain Ichabod Drift and the crew are on a Federation world enjoying the money they got from the hidden accounts in the previous book. Ichabod is approached by the Business Man/Crime Lord of the world and hired to pick up some financial data from another world in the system.

When the Crew arrive, they find out the contact is being blackmailed to do the Crime Lord’s dirty work. He threatens the crew with withholding the info unless they take him and his husband offworld to a safe world.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard ★★☆☆☆ DNF@55%

completestoriesofjgballard (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard
Series: ———-
Author: Jerry Ballard
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 1199/DNF@55%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A massive collection of short stories by the author Jerry Ballard. Mainly from the 60’s and 70’s, Ballard’s stories one and all revolved around broken characters; broken mentally, broken physically, broken emotionally, broken psychologically, broken in any way you can imagine. The world is dystopian, hope has been removed and the inexorable pessimistic fate for humanity cannot be thwarted.

 

My Thoughts:

Ballard was a qualified writer, ie, he knew his craft and did it well. However, his style and subject matter destroyed any positives for me in that aspect. In the over 600 pages I read I would have expected SOME variety in the stories but nope, uniform brokenness was what Ballard thought and what he wrote. By the time I’d decided to DNF this, I wasn’t even depressed, I was simply bored. I imagine I felt like what an art connoisseur would have felt like if Edvard Munch had only painted Scream style paintings.

At the 25% mark I was raging inside. The brokenness of the characters really had gotten to me and I was sick that Ballard could write such people over and over and over. Every man was a coward in one way or another, every woman a harpy or drone. Then like I said earlier, I just got bored. You can only read the same type of character and story so many times before it stops having an impact.

Originally, this book was published in 2 separate volumes and honestly, I think that was the correct choice. This 1 volume was just too big. Maybe if you wanted to slowly read a story here and there every day or week and you could set this down whenever you wanted, you’d not get bored. I still would have gotten bored though and there was no way I was going to spend a prolonged time period with this author’s outlook. One week of reading it every day, approximately 100 pages a day (anywhere from 4-10 stories), was enough.

Ballard also hasn’t aged well. The wonders of psychology would solve all the problems, but of course with Ballard that was misused so it would create all the problems. In one story psychologists had been outlawed by a right-wing world order and the main character had gone to jail for trying to help someone in an underground psychology session. I don’t see Ballard becoming an enduring author. To the dustbins of history with him I say!

Finally, I couldn’t help but compare this massive collection to the volumes of short stories by Asimov that I read back in ’16. That was also a 2 volume collection, Volume One and Volume Two and together they about equaled the same number of pages as this. Their tone however, was much more positive and upbeat, which allowed the more negative stories in that collection to be more of a savory contrast, like sweet and sour chicken. Ballard was just sour chicken. That is only yummy if you’re a sick, sick individual.

★★☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Torchship Captain (Torchship #3) ☆☆☆☆½ DNF@10% w/ Extreme Prejudice

torchshipcaptain (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Torchship Captain
Series: Torchship #3
Author: Karl Gallagher
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 354 DNF@10’ish%
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN ADULT CONTENT.

Things were going along really well. The Fusion was starting to fall apart and that threatened the union between the Fusion and the Disconnect against the AI threat. Michigan Long is now captain and running her own ship. She has a friendship with one of the Fusion leaders, the young girl they rescued back in the first book. When the capital world of the Fusion falls to revolution, the young girl becomes part of it to save her life, as she was one of the ruling class.

Then the girl comes aboard the ship to touch base with Michigan and her husband. She’s helping run the new council, as she has some experience, but she’s definitely just staying ahead of mob rule. So she’s complaining about how inexperienced she feels and her biggest complaint is that she is sexually inexperienced. Seriously. Trying to run a world on a council that is just as likely to kill her as take her ideas into consideration and she is thinking about how her sex life is zero.

So Michigan offers to teach her and right there, kneels before her husband and starts sucking him off. She then tells him to show the girl what sex is like and watches as her husband has sexual intercourse with the young woman. I believe I literally said out loud “what the fuck” and closed my kindle in complete and utter disgust.

I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t erotic, it wasn’t smutty. Gallagher made sure to write in such a way that it wasn’t explicit but that the reader still knew exactly what he meant. But it was revolting. It had no place in this story and it completely destroyed everything. I don’t know if Gallagher has ever written anything else but I abandoned this with Extreme Prejudice and I’ll never read another word by him, or even CONSIDER reading anything by him.

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Rath’s Gambit (Janus Group #2) ★★★☆☆

rathsgambit (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Rath’s Gambit
Series: Janus Group #2
Author: Piers Platt
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Rath is on the run. With other Operatives from the Janus Group tasked to hunt him down, he has to escape, disappear and then hook back up with Operative 339 so they can begin their campaign against the Group and hopefully live through it.

Things start to go off the rails when Operative 339 doesn’t show up at the rendevous point. Rath waits for quite awhile before realizing something is wrong. What he doesn’t know is that Operative 339 was caught by some civil authorities on another planet while she was free-lancing. She was sentenced to a prison term and her her plan was to serve for a year or two and then get early release for good behavior. Of course, Rath knows none of this.

Rath enlists the aid of the man who has been investigating the Group on his own. They track down O339 and Rath breaks her out of prison. Bungling up all her careful plans of staying under the radar.

The book ends with them trying to escape a whole batch of Operatives that had been following Rath, hoping he would do exactly what he did, ie, lead them to O339.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this BUT between the non-resolution ending, Rath acting like an idiot (for an Operative who made his 50 kills, he sure is incompetent and stupid) and the continued prison reform schtick, I’ve decided to not read any more by Platt.

When I finished this book and it ended with them being chased, I realized I simply didn’t care how it turned out. Rath is a bungler who can’t seem to plan out even basic strategy. I couldn’t tell if that was deliberate on the part of the author or what, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read about. I wanted a story about a highly trained Operative who kicked butt, oh you know, like say Operative 339. But nooooo, I get Rath the Bozo who can’t seem to find his own bum with both hands, a wall mirror and someone directing him.

The parts dealing with O339 were great. She kicked butt. She was smart and knew when to lay low and when to fight back. She had a plan and she knew how to adjust that plan as circumstances changed. WHY couldn’t this series have been about her?

Overall, while Platt hasn’t written any atrociously bad books, he certainly hasn’t written any very good books. I’m done sampling the Mediocre Buffet.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)