First and Only (Gaunt’s Ghosts #1) ★★★☆½

firstandonly (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: First and Only
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #1
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Ibram Gaunt lost his father at a young age and the data surrounding that loss was classified. This drove young Gaunt to become a Commisar, a military and political appointment where he is able to root out the evil of chaos in the emperor’s name.

During his first battle right before becoming Commisar, he is confronted by a prophetess who foretells several things. While everyone else thinks she is just raving, Gaunt keeps all she says in memory and uses it to steer his life.

Once a Commisar, he finds out that his uncle, a highly decorated officer, committed a grave act of cowardice that doomed Gaunt’s father to death. Gaunt duels and executes his uncle, thus leading to a schism between Gaunt’s new military order, the Ghosts and the order headed by his uncle.

During one battle against Chaos, Gaunt increases his fame. A second battle does the same and marks him as a target. The third battle is for a world overrun by Chaos that holds a secret that only the Leader of the Expedition knows about, and Gaunt. The Leader wants the power of the artifact for himself so as to become Warleader of the entire Host while Gaunt knows it is truly chaos tainted and something that lead to the downfall of Humanity many millennia ago.

Gaunt wins and with the surviving Ghosts (known because they are trackers and spies) truly begins his career.

 

My Thoughts:

This is formulaic franchise fiction. So I expect certain things and this didn’t disappoint. Another thing is that I’m reading about an already established universe and so my questions might have been answered 14 thousand books ago or simply dismissed. Franchise Fiction never stands up well to scrutiny; it’s simply not meant to.

So my questions. If Chaos is so bad that it can infect people, planets, etc out of no where, why the heck doesn’t the Imperial Fleet destroy every planet that has Chaos taint? Sure, that seems extreme but if Chaos is worse than the black plague and way more virulent, why is it treated so casually? Why aren’t Imperial scientists working on ways to “vaccinate” against Chaos? Why all the money on the military and NO money on research? If the Emperor is, in essence, just an undead Lich King, how is he any different from the forces of Chaos he claims to be striving against? These all popped into my head and were never addressed. So I just tossed them aside so I could enjoy the book.

This is a fun “soldiers kill stuff and fight battles” kind of book. The infighting between Imperials pissed me off, but it was supposed to. Abnett shows just how corrupt Humanity is, even in the face of raw Chaos. Considering this is Ground Pounder action, I am planning on reading all 14 or 15 of these. Wouldn’t surprise me if Gaunt dies right at the end though, that’s how Warhammer seems to roll.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Under My Heel (Kurtherian Gambit #6) ★★★☆½

undermyheel (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: Under My Heel
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #6
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 306
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

BA and Michael and the rest of the Queen Bitch’s Guard must take down the Forsaken so that they can begin dealing with the potential threat from space. At the same time the military has begun sniffing around the AI project. BA is going to have to accelerate her plans in acquiring a secure military base where she can move the AI and begin producing prototype starships.

The remaining son of Michael, the most powerful of the Forsaken, sets a trap for the Guard and eventually BA herself. BA and her crew get to test themselves against a whole host of nosferatu and have a test run of their new attack ships.

Of course BA and Co are successful, in just about all their endeavors. The ambush is unsuccessful, the military base is procured, the prototype ships a success and the AI is moved into the Ether and begins learning with TOM as a (rather unsuccessful) gatekeeper.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity is just stupid. It’s not amusing, it’s not actually profane, it’s just an ignorant stringing together of as many curse words as possible. It felt like a teenager trying to show how tough he was by saying everything he knows he’s not supposed to.

I had fun reading this even while knowing the outcome. BA is just so powerful. But that is ok because I’m not reading these for dramatic tension but for butt kicking action, which is delivered in spades.

Sorry, I just don’t feel like writing and I really don’t have anything else to say. These are popcorn books. So if you like that, great. If you want epic fantasy or {L}iterature, then this won’t do it for you. It really is that simple.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Torchship (Torchship #1) ★★★☆½

torchship (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
Series: Torchship #1
Author: Karl Gallagher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 300
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Michigan Long is some sort of undercover agent. After rescuing a scientist who is delving into AI and getting him out of the Fusion (a collection of worlds with a lot technology), she takes up residence as a pilot on a Disconnected (a group of worlds without tech and where slide rules are used for space travel) ship, she has several adventures.

One, their ship is hired as a tour ship that is a cover for a high profile kidnapping. Michigan helps save the day and brings some much needed attention to their ship by powerful people, with money.

That leads into them coming to the attention of the Terraformers, humans who still have contact with uncorrupted AI (corrupted AI are known as Betrayers as they took over the Sol system way back when and are now at quiet war with humanity). They go to a terraformer world only to find a powerful poacher killing wildlife left and right. They deal with him.

The third adventure is a story and a story. They are approached by a man who claims that his grandfather fled from Earth during the betrayal but buried 2 cargo loads of invaluable treasure on a meteor in the Sol system. He has the coordinates but needs a ship and crew willing to risk their lives to enter AI space. To avoid treasure seekers following them, they hire out as a Pilgrim ship. Pilgrims are humans who want to return to Earth, thinking that they will be integrated with the AI. No one, or even any information, has ever returned from a Pilgrimage. They are successful at dropping the pilgrims of in the Sol system and at picking up the treasure.

On their way home they run into an eruption of the war between AI and humans. They are used as bait by the Fusion navy, who uses a new secret weapon to wipe out the Betrayers. Michigan marries the mechanic on the Torchship and is instructed to inform the captain of the ship on her secret military status.

 

My Thoughts:

This was science fiction in the vein of Heinlein, what with the slide rules, etc. Gallagher did a good job of revealing information about the existing universe without me feeling like he was infodumping OR with-holding info “because of reasons”.

I was not expecting the various adventures format, so it threw me at first but once I realized what was going on, it was enjoyable.

In regards to Michie, there is a lot of hints but very little concrete. I figure the next 2 books will delve more into what is going on with her. This book felt like an introduction to her, the crew & ship and the existing universe in general.

There was a little side plot about the scientist she rescues at the beginning running through the book and I figure since he’s into AI that he’ll be central to defeating the Betrayers if that is the route Gallagher takes us. I hope so because I LOVE humans vs AI stories where humans kick some silicon butt.

The nice thing is that I already know this is a trilogy, so no cliffhangers for me!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Return to Oz (Falken Chronicles #3) ★★★☆☆

returntooz (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: Return to Oz
Series: Falken Chronicles #3
Author: Piers Platt
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 270
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Having survived Olympus and meeting Sef Weaver’s daughter, Syrio needs to know what has happened to Sef. He gets back on board the ship that houses the virtual world and makes his case to the Committee to allow him to go back into Oz and to convince Sef to take responsibility for the murder he committed. Syrio is denied his request but the commander of the ship allows him to go back anyway.

At the same time Sef’s daughter begins digging around the cold case back on Earth to see if she can find anything to help exonerate her father. The more she digs, the more things don’t make sense. Eventually it is revealed that her grandfather was the mastermind behind the kidnapping and the murder that was pinned on Sef.

While the investigation is going on, Syrio finds Sef but Sef won’t admit he committed the murder and Oz won’t let Sef go until he shows remorse for the murder he was convicted for. Syrio reveals the secret of Oz to Sef which shuts the program down. Both men are then sentenced to the real prison planet. With the revelations by Sef’s daughter their sentences are reversed. Sef is returned to his family and Syrio becomes the new head of Oz.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a return to the first book. No dinosaurs, no people getting eaten, nothing exciting. The whole “mystery” solving aspect was very different from the previous 2 books but it wasn’t very interesting. When a rookie like Sef’s daughter can figure things out and the police are made to look like incompetents, well, that tells me more about the author than anything. Plus the whole “reform prisoners through hardwork and education” is just so much bullshit. When someone commits premeditated murder, the State needs to kill them for the safety of the rest of the citizens. Now, Platt confuses things even more by making Syrio having committed a crime of passion and Sef being innocent. It was just a very muddled message and that made it even more unpalatableto me than it already was.

Glad to get the end of the story and not a waste of time. I do have another couple of books by Platt that I’m still willing to try. However, if the Rath books are as pathetically “messaged” as this one, I’ll be done. Oh, they also need to ramp up the action. If you’re going to write a Science Fiction series, then having your characters be on spaceships around Earth isn’t enough. The 2nd book was exactly what this series SHOULD have been like. Considering that Platt has failed to truly catch my attention with 2 books, I’m not really hopeful about the Rath ones. Bummer.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Engineer Reconditioned (Polity #13) ★★★★☆

engineerreconditioned (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 Engineer Reconditioned
Series: Polity #13
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 260
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories from Asher’s Polity Universe, his Owner universe and some general SF shorts.

 

My Thoughts:

Really, my previous review still stands. Asher just unloads several times on anything “religious” and even in one of his intro’s to a story admits that’s exactly what he is doing. Makes me wonder why the vitriol. His wife hadn’t died yet, so it wasn’t like he was blaming God for that. In fact, now that his wife has passed on, I’ve noticed LESS bashing of religion in his books. Thankfully, I knew this was an element in this book so it didn’t shock me like it did the first time around. Scyenze is Asher’s god, he just won’t admit it.

I enjoyed the Owner stories a lot this time around as I now had the Owner trilogy under my literary belt. Did make me want to add them to my tbr. Once I finish up my Polity re-read, I’ll probably re-read the Owner books to tide me over until Asher’s Jain trilogy wraps up.

There was a story about the Hive (turns out Wasps are sentient creatures) and I have to admit I would like a trilogy about them at some point. I doubt it will happen and I’d be ok with just some more short stories, but since I’m wishing, a trilogy is what I want.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Absolution Gap (Revelation Space #4) ★★★☆½

absolutiongap (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: Absolution Gap
Series: Revelation Space #4
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 704
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Quaiche is sent out to find sellable things for his Ultra masters and as it is his last chance, he’d better find something good. He finds a bridge on the moon Hela with an extinct species on it. He also finds a planet, Haldora, that randomly blinks out of existence. With his lover dying during this exploration, and a religious virus in his brain, Quaiche goes full on cult and starts a new religion based upon the planet’s disappearance.

Rashmika Els has grown up on the moon Hela and she is convinced that the extinct species, the Scuttlers, were not wiped out by the Inhibitors but by something else. Her brother had gone into the religious machine setup by Quaiche and Rashmika is determined to find him and prove her ideas. She gets embroiled in some plots Quaiche has going and it becomes evident that Rashmika has a lot of secrets of her own.

Scorpio the pig has been running things on the planet Ararat while Clavain has been off whining, sulking, do whatever the phracking loser has been sitting on his ass doing in the hinterlands. Unfortunately, when a one person craft comes to Ararat and disgorges Ana Khouri, things start to get complicated. Skade and the Conjoiners have been fighting Remontaine and his group of people. The Inhibitors are now involved and things are bad. Ana has a super baby (mentally) that Skade kidnaps. Skade crashes on Ararat, bringing the baby and the Inhibitors. The group on Ararat rescue Aura, the baby and then a group takes the spaceship and escapes into space. Aura tells them to go to Hela but Scorpio ignores her and heads back to Chasm City, only to see the whole system being infested and destroyed by the Inhibitors.

The Inhibitors are now making a push to wipe out humanity as a whole and Aura claims that only at Hela can Humanity’s salvation have a chance.

Everything comes together at Hela. Rashmika is actually Aura with her memories blocked and the disappearing planet Haldora is actually a machine for communicating with an alternate universe. The beings in the alternate universe claim they can destroy the Inhibitors if humanity will open the door for them. Everyone wants to let the Shadows through except Aura realizes it is a test by a third party. Humanity doesn’t let the shadows through and passes. They get help from this mysterious party and humanity begins to win the war against the Inhibitors.

The book ends 400 years after these events where Humanity is once again on the run from the Green Plague, a plague that turns all star systems into green globes and allows humanity to survive, but at the cost of any outward expansion. Very bleak.

 

My Thoughts:

Something about this book just didn’t grab me. Part of it is that the whole time frame thing really throws me off, even while making perfect sense. Without a FTL means of travel, events happen at greatly disparate times until they all come together. I think part of my issue is that Reynolds starts his threads so far apart that I feel like I’m reading 3 different novels at once and it’s not until the last 25% or so that they get tied together. I also don’t like the Conjoiners as specific characters, ie, Clavain, Skade, Remontaine, Aura, etc. As a group I find them fascinating but as individuals I almost universally hate them all.

For this book I found the ideas are what carried me along. However, at over 700 pages that is a lot of “idea” to drag along.

Overall, I just don’t have a lot to say. I am enjoying this Revelation Space but not nearly as much as Neal Asher’s Polity books. I am enjoying it much more than Banks’ wretched The Culture series though. I consider Asher, Reynolds and Banks the triumvirate of British SF for some reason and they’re ranked as I listed them. I have to admit, I was hoping that I’d enjoy them all equally but since they all write rather differently, that isn’t to be the case. At least I’m enjoying Reynolds enough to keep on reading his stuff.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Uprising: Ascension (Pacific Rim #2) ★★☆☆½

uprisingascension (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: Uprising: Ascension
Series: Pacific Rim #2
Author: Greg Keyes
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Movie Tie-In
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Taking place 17’ish years after Pacific Rim, we follow several new recruits into the Ranger program, from which new Jaeger pilots are chosen. With the closing of the portal and threat from the Kaiju vanquished, the Jaegers were re-purposed into peace keeping forces. Nor did technology stand still and the Mark 6 is the latest model.

Jinhai and Viktoriya are both talented candidates with their own issues. Jinhai is the son of a famous pair of Jaiger pilots and has always felt left out of his own family. Vik was raised by her grandparents and told that her parents were the brave Russian Jaeger pilots who went down stopping the Kaiju threat. But from the get-go of everyone’s training, things go seriously wrong. A training jaeger is sabotaged and a technician killed. Suspicion rests on Jinhai or Vik and ties to Kaiju worshippers pop up incriminating both of them.

We also get flashbacks about Jinhai and Vik growing up that show the forces that have shaped them.

Eventually the Kaiju worshippers make their move. They kidnap Jinhai and Vik and plan to sacrifice them as they detonate a bomb drenched in kaiju blook (thus exponentially increasing its power) under an island, thus opening a new portal to the anteverse and the Kaiju. They are stopped in time but it is obvious that Jinhai and Vik weren’t random selections for the sacrifice.

The Kaiju will return and humanity must be ready.

 

My Thoughts:

Last time I read a movie prequel book was Terminator: Salvation: Cold War. I had already watched the movie and absolutely loved it. The book was enjoyable as a backstory filler and it led me on to Terminator: Salvation: From the Ashes. That was a direct prequel and I loved it. All of this leads up to say that I had decent expectations for this prequel movie tie-in.

This was the novel prequel to Pacific Rim: Uprising. I have not watched the movie yet but since I enjoyed the first movie so much at some point I know I’ll watch it. So I figured why not read the prequel to get me ready for the movie? Man, what a mistake. The thing with Terminator: Salvation is that I watched the movie first. I should have done the same thing with this book.

There was nothing wrong with this book but I was bored for most of it, as it was almost all setup for the movie. There was way too much “I’m a poor hurt teenager, feel bad for me while I sulk and act like a spoiled brat” and not any jaeger fights. Thankfully, we do get simulated jaeger fights in their training and it was fun to see them work through scenarios that previous pilots had battled through. The kaiju worshipers were the big threat and they were poorly done. Caricatures and barely there.

I had the movie novelization on my tbr, but after this and re-reading my review for the original Pacific Rim, I’m going to pass and just watch the movie “sometime”.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)