Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (Lucky Starr #3) ★★★☆½

oceansofvenus (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: Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus
Series: Lucky Starr #3
Author: Isaac Asimov
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 174
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Science Council has had a call for help from the domed Cities of Venus. They sent in a top operative but they received a letter of recall from the Head of the Science Council on Venus accusing the man of corruption. Lucky knows this man and doesn’t believe a word of it. He heads to Venus but receives a radio communique from said operative warning him away.

Lucky and Bigman barely make it to Venues, as their pilots mysteriously black out and almost crash their craft. Lucky begins his investigation and is shown a whole slew of incidents where rational people have performed very irrational acts and then had no memory of it. The Head of the Local Council is convinced it is a Syrian trick so as to steal the rare Venus yeast formulas.

Lucky thinks otherwise and after some hair raising adventures in the oceans, finds out that telepathic frogs are the culprit! But the mystery doesn’t stop there. It turns out one of the engineers on Venus has learned how to control the v-frogs (venus frogs. Get it? Pretty clever right?) and has been planning to become dictator of Venus.

Thanks to Lucky and Bigman, said Engineer is brought to Justice and the benevolent rule of the Science Council continues apace. Heil Scyenze! * salutes *

 

My Thoughts:

Maddalena pointed out in the comments of the previous book that this was written for middle graders. So when I went into this, I deliberately kept that in mind and you know what? It worked wonders for my expectations and how I read the book itself. I had a lot more fun this time around. I could see myself as a 5th grader eating this up with a spoon. I wish I had known about these way back then but oh well.

A good rousing adventure tale. It also shows unabashedly, or perhaps unknowingly(?), just how strong a belief in science as a force for good permeated the society of the 50’s. Science was going to solve every problem, only the best of men would be scientists and they would all get along because obviously, once you know something you have to act rationally and logically to that knowledge. Phraaaaack, what a naive outlook. Makes me wonder what Asimov was thinking at the end of his life, as he was a humanist and from what I understand didn’t believe in God or any sort of afterlife.

Anyway, with that aside out of the way, this book gave me some hope that I was sorely lacking from the previous. I am now looking forward to the next couple of volumes instead of dreading them. Ha!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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The Deaths of Tao (The Lives of Tao #2) ★★☆☆☆ DNF@67%

deathsoftao (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 Deaths of Tao
Series: The Lives of Tao #2
Author: Wesley Chu
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 464/DNF’d at 67%
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Four after the previous book, Roen is married to Jill and has a 3 year old son named Cameron. Unfortunately, under the urging of Tao, Roen has pretty much abandoned his family to fight against the Genjix and find out what their master plan is. Tao is convinced that the Genjix no longer wish to return to their homeworld and have nefarious plans for Earth and humanity.

This appears to be the plan and the Prophus, now very much decimated due to botched leadership, must play catchup, if at all possible.

 

My Thoughts:

I gave up on this book so late in the game because I was realizing I simply didn’t care. I didn’t care about stupid Roen Tan. I didn’t care about the miserable alien Tao. I didn’t care about the idiots at the top of the Prophus. I didn’t care that the aliens were attempting to terraform earth to their own standards.

For phracks sake, I am more competent at command than those idiots in the Prophus. That really annoyed me. Not my can of energy drink at all and I’ll be avoiding anything by Chu in the future. 3 tries is enough.

This book gave me the exact same vibe that I got from Time Salvager. So nothing particularly wrong with this book and I can’t point to something specific and say “I don’t like that” but it’s just apparent that I don’t like Chu’s books and writing style and choice of protagonists.

I feel rather generous giving this 2 stars, but honestly, there is nothing wrong here to take it lower, I simply didn’t like it.

★★☆☆☆

 

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Hilldiggers (Polity #10) ★★★★☆

hilldiggers (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: Hilldiggers
Series: Polity #10
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 564
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Back before the AI’s took over the Polity in the Quiet War, a group of humans had left to follow their own dreams. Unfortunately, there was a violent split in the group and one group went to one world and the other group to the other world. Both performed lots and lots of gene-splicing and mucking about to stay alive on their respective planets. Once their civilizations reached a certain point they became aware of the other planet and war ensued. The war ended when one side used gravity weapons, the eponymous Hilldiggers, to totally wipe out the underground cities of the other.

The winning side had gotten a hold of an “Object” and learned a lot from it. They held this Object in various cylanders on a space station. A woman conceives at the moment that the object tries to get loose and 9 months later gives birth to quadruplets. These quads are the brightest humans on the planet and seem driven to succeed at whatever task they want.

The Polity has been monitoring this system for quite some time and is now sending in a Consul to see if the system would like to join the Polity. They send in an Old Captain, a man of Spatterjay who is more virus than man. But this man has a countervirus working in him as an experiment.

When one of the Quads leads a military coup, the Consul must navigate between 2 worlds, the Polity and the mysterious Object, which seems to have its own agenda.

In the end, the coup, which was instigated by the Object, fails but ends up freeing the Object, which continues its travels and recon. The 2 worlds make peace once it is realized the victorious world started the war for profit and both worlds decide to slowly look into entering the Polity.

 

My Thoughts:

Even though I read this back in 2011, I didn’t remember anything besides the Object so this was like reading it ♪for the very♪ first♪ time♪. I have to say, I enjoyed this a lot and reading my review, I enjoyed it a lot more than last time.

I know last time I was convinced that the Object was the Dragon that we are introduced to in the Agent Cormac series. This time around, I’m not really sure and actually rather doubt it. It just didn’t fit the description. It would be nice to know for sure one way or the other though.

There was a lot of fighting in this book and having an Old Captain, with a twist, made for a good character to represent the Polity. We also get viewpoints from each of the quadruplets and a Polity Drone. While Asher seems quite able to handle so many viewpoints and to tell one cohesive whole of a story through them, trying to summarize it all is a real pain in the butt.

I am trying to think WHY I enjoyed this so much more than last time. Part of it is that I’ve read enough of his newer books to realize that he’s not going to be writing a Spatterjay trilogy ever again and so I don’t expect his books to be that. I think that it didn’t help that I simply gorged on these back in ’11. I read 5 of his books within a month and that can really detract.

I was able to sit back, take in the various viewpoints and just let the story roll on. I have found that I’ve been doing that a lot more recently and it helps me to enjoy the book.Instead of trying to guess or predict, I just let the author guide me along. I don’t try to fight the current of the book. I am The Tai-Chi Master of Book Reading, hahahahaa!

Another greatly enjoyable book by Asher in the Polity universe.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1) ★★★★☆

revelationspace (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: Revelation Space
Series: Revelation Space #1
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 596
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

An archeologist on the world of Resurgam is trying to prove that the extinct inhabitants of the planet had gotten to the technological standpoint of space travel. The rest of the colony just wants to terraform the world so they can live. A coup occurs and the archeologist, Dan Sylveste, is imprisoned and yet given enough freedom to perform his research. He eventually proves his theories right but still hasn’t answered how the aliens went extinct.

Ana Khouri, separated from her husband in a military accident and sent to the wrong world, has become an assassin for the near immortal rich in Chasm City. She’s hired by Madam to go and kill Sylveste. Khouri is hired by some Ultra’s (space goths from what I could tell who love to meddle with their bodies) who are on their way to Resurgam as well. They want Sylveste as well, to heal their captain, who is being taken over by some sort of viral plague that is melding him to the ship.

The Ultras kidnap Silvestre and his wife, while Khouri must deal with a digital avatar of the Madam in her head. Also on board the ship, is a shadowy something called Sun Stealer, which drove Khouri’s predecessor insanse. Sun Stealer is also the name of the being on the final monument of the aliens on Resurgam. Sylvestre also has the digital recording of his dead father in his head. Good times.

Turns out there is a dead species of aliens who lived to make sure no other species ever reached a certain technological level. They left artifacts scattered around the universe that would lead to the destruction of any species that interacted with them and that is what lead to the destruction of life on Resurgam.

The humans are all being manipulated by various alien factions to use the device so humanity will be the next target and draw away attention from them. Things don’t go according to the aliens plans and the humans survive and now know about the traps.Silvestre and his wife decide to stay on the artifact as digital incarnations while Khouri and the lone surviving Ultra head back to human space.

Hopefully to warn everyone. We aren’t told.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a VERY complex storyline, hence my rather inarticulate ramble of a synopsis. The universe that Reynolds has created reminds me a lot of Neal Asher’s Polity and Asher’s fascination with the Jain, long dead aliens inimical to all other lifeforms. Here Reynolds calls them the Inhibitors but it is not until nearly the end that we find out about them clearly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Unfortunately, most of the characters were rather unlikeable so my enjoyment was tempered by disgust. Khouri was the least objectionable person but she was a pawn for almost all of the book. I would say the ideas and the storyline were able to overcome the characters. That doesn’t happen very often for me.

After reading this, I feel like I have a decent grasp on modern Space Opera. Between Revelation Space, The Polity and The Culture, I can say it is something that I really like when it is done according to my tastes. I was apprehensive about starting this series, as I ended up disliking Banks’ The Culture book quite a bit. Thankfully this seemed to be more in line with The Polity, a series that I’m pretty in love with.

The inclusion of techno-porn (ie, the abundant description of technologies above and beyond the call of duty) did make me skip whole paragrapsh while reading. From a layman’s perspective, talking about that kind of thing does nothing for me and is just babble. So I skip it. It also tends to date your book for those who do know what you’re writing about, as theories go out of style like fashion. Sometimes being a little vague is ok.

I tore through this in about 3 days. Started it on a Thursday evening and finished it up by reading all day Saturday. I’m glad I’ve got all 7 novels in the series lined up. I hope the others live up to this one.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders #1) ★★★☆☆

fortressinoriion (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 Fortress in Orion
Series: Dead Enders #1
Author: Mike Resnick
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 306
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Nathan Pretorias, a secret agent for the Democracy, has returned from yet another impossible mission. Well, parts of him returned. Now he has been tagged to carry out a truly impossible mission:

replace the war chief Michtag, the universal dictator of the aliens fighting humanity with a clone raised by humans and trained

Nathan assembles his own team of specialists, all misfits in one way or another. They make their way to the super secret fortress on the super secret planet deep in the Coalition. They kidnap and replace General Michtag and successfully make their way back to the Democracy.

Where Nathan’s superior presents yet another impossible mission, a mission only the Dead Enders can take on.

 

My Thoughts:

While I absolutely loved Santiago and the Widowmaker series, this reminded much more of the Starship series. Space Opera at its most mediocre. There simply wasn’t any tension. While Resnick excels at telling a myth style story set in the future, he’s not so good at just telling a character story.

For an impossible fortress and impossible mission, everything went off without a hitch. No matter how good your team is, something is going to go wrong and everything is going to be flubbed up. That just didn’t happen here and so like I said, there was zero tension. If there had been a lot of action or something else, even that could be gotten past, but there really wasn’t much else.

Resnick seems to be very hit or miss for me and I have a feeling this Dead Enders trilogy is going to be a miss. I hope I am proved wrong, but I’m very much getting the same vibe from this book that I got from the middle Starship book. That does not bode well. I’m still giving this 3stars for the newness of the story but if the second book is just as blasé, I’ll be dropping the rating accordingly.

★★★☆☆

 

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Queen Bitch (Kurtherian Gambit #2) ★★★★☆

queenbitch (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: Queen Bitch
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #2
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 258
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Bethany Anne must begin cleaning up the mess left behind by Michael. She has to start cleaning up the Forsaken who are starting to make inroads in North America due to Michael’s absence. She has to start putting Michael’s “good” children back on the straight and narrow and have them go back to their duties of keeping the supernatural outside of the purview of the normal world. She also has to put the Council of the Were in their place, as several members are thinking that without Michael around they can begin shoving the humans around, perhaps even ruling them.

While ALL this is going on, Bethany Anne also has to keep in mind that the overall threat is so much greater and her final goal must be to get humanity into space and ready to fight off potential hordes of ravening aliens.

Sometimes, being Queen Bitch just isn’t worth the hassle.

 

My Thoughts:

This was F-U-N!! Nothing deep, nothing worth a re-read but my goodness, Bethany Anne kicks some serious butt. She is pretty much a Mary Sue, but only if Mary Sue was a psycho violent vampire who was trying to protect the planet. I can handle that.

Even through all of this, Bethany Anne is still planning on just how she is going to save the planet. She might be violent but she’s not at all stupid. She’s beginning to make more and more use of TOM and she’s already thinking about how she can use its knowledge to grow humanity’s knowledge AND give her the funds necessary to build the space stuff that will be needed.

Thinking about this book, I would compare it to the earlier MHI books in terms of action and violence. I’d compare it quality-wise to the first MHI book as well. The thing that gives me pause is that Anderle has a bajillion books while Correia has a steady output of steadily increasing quality. I’m kind of afraid to find out where Anderle plateaus or even nosedives. That’s the only problem and that is all in my head.

I almost started in on the next book right away but thank goodness my inner core of self control kept me safe. Nothing is worse than having too much of a good time all at once.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

No Worse Enemy (The Empire’s Corps #2) ★★★☆½

noworseenemy (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: No Worse Enemy
Series: The Empire’s Corps #2
Author: Christopher Nuttal
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 431
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Mandy is on a spaceship to get more training from the Rockrats when her craft is attacked by pirates. is captured and because of her space engineering knowledge, begins working on a spaceship for the leader of the pirates, The Admiral. She is put through her pirate paces and gains their loyalty but has secretly stolen a bunch of explosives that she then plants around the ship.

At the same time, The Admiral sends a ship to Avalon to take it over and the marines are able to take the ship over. They head out to other star systems and help free them and try to make some sort of entity that all the various planets in their systems can participate in. The beginnings of a political system other than the Empire.

The Admiral needs Avalon and its HE3 scoop for fuel, so he gathers his fleet and his mercenaries and attacks. The Marines and some others hold him off for a bit but things aren’t looking good until Mandy detonates her explosives and puts The Admiral out of commission.

The Admiral’s ship is to become the new head ship and Mandy is chosen to help run it. Captain Stalker must now act like the Empire is truly gone.

 

My Thoughts:

I bumped this up half a star from the previous one because of lack of sexual scenes (even though Mandy does have to sell herself to a pirate commander to stay alive) and because Nuttal drops scenes and ship names from a LOT of old and not so old Science Fiction. If you don’t recognize the stories you won’t miss out but knowing them showed that Nuttal has a good SF foundation as well. I find that important in an SF author.

Mandy is the main character this time around while Jasmine, now in charge of a troop of Marines, is the main viewpoint of the military side of things. It worked well and we’ll see if Nuttal uses them again or switches to yet another viewpoint for each future book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)