The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 ★★★★★

sfhalloffame (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 Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964
Series: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame #1
Editor: Robert Silverberg
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 576
Format: Trade paperback

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories voted by members of the Science Fiction Authors Guild (or something or other like that) as the best of. A popularity contest of stories from the 30’s to the 60’s. No author had more than one story and the book was presented chronologically, so we as the readers could see how things progressed storywise in 30 years.

 

My Thoughts:

Danielle from Books, Vertigo and Tea reviewed this recently and brought it to my attention. What a fantastic read.

First off, this was originally published back in 1970, I believe. It was released again in 2005 and then just released digitally in 2018. Obviously not a new book. I read this at lunch beginning sometime in March and just finished it this past week. Short stories really lend themselves to no pressure reading and going at a slow pace. Sometimes you need that in a busy, hectic book life like mine.

I had read over ½ of these 26 stories, as growing up in the 80’s and addicted to SF meant I was familiar with almost all of these authors, even if just by name. This was good stuff! If you’ve never read Vintage SF, this is a good place to start. Even if you don’t like every story (and I didn’t like every one either), you’ll get the flavor of what those years produced and if an author strikes your fancy, you can then go on and investigate on your own.

In many ways, I think that Science Fiction shines through the short story medium. Ideas are presented and there is no extraneous fluff or junk to ruin it. And if your imagination isn’t up to snuff to get you excited about ideas, then you probably shouldn’t be reading SF in the first place.

I bought this used in trade paperback through Amazon but I think the stories are good enough that I’m going to have to put the hardcover on my wishlist. In terms of Short Story Collections, this falls squarely between Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 1 and Asimov’s Complete Stories Vol 2. I do plan on buying, in used trade paperback again, Volumes 2 & 3, which are the best novella’s of that time period. Hopefully they are as good as these stories.

★★★★★

 

 

bookstooge (Custom)

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Orbus (Polity: Spatterjay #3) ★★★★½

orbus (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:
Orbus
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Orbus is now captain of a Space freighter instead of a sailing ship on Spatterjay. He’s trying to reform himself from the masochistic brute he was before. Unfortunately, he’s rather bored, as the ship AI Gurnard, pretty much does everything. Then they are hired by a reif to recover a prador exoskeleton from the Graveyard, an area in space that acts as a buffer between the Polity and the Kingdom of the Prador. Orbus uncovers a lot of dirty dealing and the fact that Oberon, King of the Prador, is actually infected with the Spatterjay virus and has been for centuries. The wardrone Sniper and submind Thirteen hook up with Orbus and Gurnard to get this info to the Polity so the AI’s can use it.

At the same time, Vrell, a prador who survived on Spatterjay and worked his way offplanet, has taken over a Prador warvessel. He too realizes the King is mutated and that this knowledge will kill him. Vrell is faced with fighting and losing to the Prador, running to the Polity and possibly being killed out of hand for his actions in escaping Spatterjay or running away into unknown space. Vrell is also infected and his mutating brain suggests hiding out in the Graveyard. He takes his ship, and reprogrammed Kings Guards, who are also mutated Prador, into the graveyard. This leads him into conflict with the Golgoloth.

The Golgoloth is a Prador that is over 1000 years old and has kept itself alive by growing replacements for itself (as it is both male and female) with its children. It was the kingmaker for the 1st and 2nd Prador Kingdom and fled to the Graveyard when Oberon took power. Through the centuries Oberon has approached the Golgoloth to return to the Kingdom to work for him and the Golgoloth has always refused. Now, with his secret about to be revealed, Oberon forces the issue with the Golgoloth and tells it it is either it or Vrell.

The conflict between Vrell and the Golgoloth suck in the crew of the Gurnard. It also places incredible strain on Vrell’s resources, which reveals a hidden genetic code in the Spatterjay virus. This genetic material turns out to be Jain in nature and is a squad of Jain Soldiers. The Jain are resurrected and it takes everyone, including Oberon and his dreadnaughts, to destroy them. In the end, Oberon sacrifices himself to gain crucial knowledge about the Jain and passes it on to his successor, Vrell.

The Jain are destroyed, the Golgoloth gets its punishment at the hand of King Vrell, Orbus realizes his desire for action isn’t crazy, the Prador Kingdom is in upheaval and the Polity can breathe easier for a few decades.

 

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, my review from 2011 still sums up my thoughts. Awesome violence between super powered beings (whether of mind or body or both) and we get Jain soldiers. I had completely forgotten they were introduced here. It is good to be reminded of them, since Asher’s latest series is called Rise of the Jain and the first book is titled The Soldier. After this book, I’m totally ready for that.

I do have to admit that I don’t understand the reason for the title. Captain Orbus plays as big a part as Sniper but nothing compared to Vrell, the Golgoloth or even Oberon at the end. He’s the human connector between us the readers and the various factions in the book (Polity AI’s, alien Prador, even the world of Spatterjay) but I didn’t find him integral to the story.

The reason for this not getting bumped up to a full five stars is the tech descriptions that is a regular weakness of Asher’s. He just can’t resist writing about gadget X, Y and Z doing A,B and C and then being totally obliterated by O,F and U. It’s like gun porn, but on a larger level. Tech porn maybe? Whatever you want to call it, it bores me, even more than scenary descriptions would.

I think that Orbus is probably the most violent of the whole Spatterjay trilogy and the Spatterjay trilogy is the most violent, to date, of his Polity books. Be aware of that when diving into these books. Mutated Prador are even worse than a Hooder on a ship of reifications!

★★★★½

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

David Starr, Space Ranger (Lucky Starr #1) ★★★☆½

spaceranger (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: David Starr, Space Ranger
Series: Lucky Starr #1
Author: Isaac Asimov
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 144
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

David Starr, youngest member of the Galactic Science Council, has been sent to Mars to find out why people on Earth are being poisoned with Martian food. Going undercover as a farmboy, Starr meets various characters and comes across the idea that Mars might have native Martians living in caves underground.

Starr investigates, meets the Martians, who have moved beyond the physical and into the purely mental plane of existence and gets a special mask from them that disguises him, gives him a personal force field and allows him to create the personna, The Space Ranger.

Starr solves the mystery and the legend of the Space Ranger is born. The book ends with him picking up a sidekick and waiting for another adventure.

 

My Thoughts:

Oh my goodness. This was so much fun. Short and zippy and chockful of that 1950’s American Attitude. In Space!

These Lucky Starr books were originally written in the 50’s or 60’s and then re-released in the 70’s. Asimov wrote a new intro for the re-release where he apologizes for scientific inaccuracies since a lot more knowledge had been discovered between releases. One, it was funny to read about the advances made in 20 years from almost 50 years later and two, it did credit to Asimov that he was willing to admit his stories weren’t accurate. If more authors would be that humble, that would be good for all of us.

This was a mix of science fiction, mystery and western all rolled into one. It reminded me of the radio dramas that I’ve heard before. If this had been written today, I’d say this would fall into caricature or even satirization, but Asimov was fully serious. It works. It is written to entertain and it does that admirably.

I think the rest of the series I’ll be better able to judge if this is decent quality or not. This one has that “new but nostalgia” factor for sure.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) DNF@18% ☆☆☆☆½

lasttown (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 Town
Series: Wayward Pines #3
Author: Blake Crouch
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Thriller
Pages: 308/DNF
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

DNF @ 18%

 

My Thoughts:

“And what he saw, he didn’t know how to process”

…….

“A string of indelible images.”

…..

“In the middle of Main Street, a large abby on top of Megan Fisher, violating her.”

 

Enough. I will not read stuff like that.

☆☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Defiance (The Spiral Wars #4) ★★★☆½

defiance (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: Defiance
Series: The Spiral Wars #4
Author: Joel Shepherd
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 475
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Lisbeth Debogande is being held hostage by one Faction of the Parran. This Faction wants to force her brother Erik, star captain gone rogue with a drysine queen on his advance ship, to support them in their bid to become the primary Faction of all Parrans. Lisbeth makes the best of a bad situation and begins learning about the Parran and ends up as the liason between them and the humans on Eric’s ship.

Erik, meanwhile is dealing with a Drysine queen that has a datacore that it wants decoded. And that will lie to get what it wants. A secret moon base (thankfully no ewoks are included!) at the bottom of a gravity well is the only place where Styx, the queen, can decode the datacore they stole in the previous book. It is called Defiance, hence the name of this book.

At the same time the threat of the Deepynines (another machine intelligent race) increases as the Deepynine/Alo/Sard alliance is revealed in attacks on Parran ships and stations, wiping out all lifeforms.

Erik and Crew, along with various Parran military powers, lead the Deepynines to the moon to prevent further genocide of other planet bound Parrens. This gravity well gives the humans and parrans a chance to destroy the deepynines while Styx awakens the moon and its defenses. Huge battle, deepynines defeated, massive death toll among the humans and parrans, lots of secrets revealed which show that most of galactic history is a lie. The Drysines were allied with a LOT of biological races, against most of the other Machine races.

Styx, in the process of decoding the datacore, finds out where the Deepynines might have come from and its square in the middle of unknown territory held by biologicals so scary that they make the race that destroyed the Earth look like puppydogs.

 

My Thoughts:

Unfortunately, almost the exact same issues that I had with Kantovan Vault appear in this book as well. I read that back in August and 7 months later, it would have been REALLY nice to have a character list so when I needed a refresher on who was who I could have it at my finger tips. It isn’t needed for every single character to ever appear, but a list of all the major players, that would just be nice, especially since the ending of this book shows that this is turning into a possibly Never Ending Series kind of series.

My second issue is the author’s fascination with detail. I DON’T need pages of how the Parran political process works and all the cultural ramifications and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t badly written mind you, but my goodness, between that and all the descriptive padding, a good editor could have cut out 75 pages. These books need to get a bit leaner. Shepherd is bulking them up unnecessarily and the fast pace bogs right down to almost zero at times.

The things that I did like from the first book are still in place. When Shepherd does his action scenes, whether in space or on the ground, man, it grabs me by the throat and just chokes the living daylights out of me. The last 40% of this book was like that. It was just too bad it took that long to get there. Hence my complaining about the bloat.

I like the characters. Lisbeth is growing up, Erik is coming into his own, even if his ship is destroyed from under him by the end of the book. Other characters are growing or moving away. Trace Thakur took a major departure from the line I was expecting. She and Erik suddenly went all brother/sister feeling instead of the romance that I “thought” was developing. Skah, the little fuzzy alien teddybear child, is getting suckered in by Styx and I’m wondering how Shepherd is going to use that plot line. It better not end in Skah’s subversion to machine or something. Styx shows herself for the lying, genocidal machine bug she really is. Eveyrone is going on about how bad the deepynines are and how they NEED Styx even while acknowleding that Styx is actually a worse threat; she’s just contained. We’ll see how the revelations about the Drysine and biologicals change my outlook, but I’d still put a bullet through her braincase. Machine intelligences are bad, period.

I enjoyed this the same as Kantovan Vault but with the same faults, I can’t give it the same rating. Shepherd didn’t learn anything, so this book is getting knocked down half a star. I just hope the next book improves.

★★★☆½

bookstooge

 

 

Sentenced to Prism (HumanX Commonwealth #5) ★★★★★

sentencedtoprism (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: Sentenced to Prism
Series: HumanX Commonwealth #5
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Mass Market Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Evan Orgell: Troubleshooter, Fixer, Company Man, Confident. If there is a problem, you send in Evan Orgell and your problem gets taken care off. There is no one better on Samstead.

The Company has a problem. They’ve discovered a new world and their presence there isn’t quite exactly legal. But the payoffs could be huge, so they’ve sent down a full research team with labs and defensive outpost. But the team has gone silent. The Company needs Evan to go in alone and find out what is going on. One man, alone, won’t draw the attention of rival companies, the United Church or the Peace Forcers. Equipped with a suit of mobile armor with the latest gadgets, Evan is all set to investigate the mysteries of Prism.

Unfortunately, neither The Company or Evan are truly prepared for what Prism holds.

Evan finds the remains of the base and it is overrun by prismatic lifeforms feasting on all the rare-earth metals in the base. All of the staff, except for one Martine Ophemert, are dead. Evan begins the process of tracking down the missing staff member. During his pursuit, his suit, his superdupercan’tbreakcansolveeverything suit fails. Evan is forced to proceed on foot and comes into contact with a native, a scout named Azure. Azure saves Evan’s life and they head back to Azure’s Associative.

There Evan finds a fully functioning society. The lifeforms of Prism have all specialized and then come together instead of being multi-use creatures that standalone. Evan gives them the idea of a battery, as they are all photovores so they can function through the night. In turn they grow him a locator so he can track down Martine easier.

On the way to finding Martine’s tracker, the group is attacked and Evan is partially destroyed. The Associative rebuilds him so he is part biological and part Prismatic. A true synthesis of Prism and the Commonwealth. They rescue Martine, who has also been rebuilt by another Associative and they all head back to the base to try to contact The Company.

Turns out one of the former crew was working for a Rival Company and said Rival Company is on site when they return. After being taken prisoner and then rescued by their Associative, Evan and Martine send the scouting party packing. The Rival Company returns with a military complement, only to run into the Peace Forcers and the United Church, who Evan has contacted using a homegrown space contact thingy grown by the Prismites.

Prism is now considered a Class One world and must be left alone. Evan and Martine are left as Liasons considering their new “forms” and their mission is now to get the various Associatives across Prism to form one Super Associative. And the Associatives have already considered this, agreed and are planning on growing a spaceship so Evan and Martine can travel as official representatives of Prism to the Commonwealth.

 

My Thoughts:

You cannot steal information, Evan,” Azure said reprovingly. “Library says you can only borrow it…”

That just made me laugh coming from an author. Being intimately involved with the de-drm’ing of ebooks back in the day, I’m very aware of arguments on both sides of the Information Must Be Free fight. Anyway, on to the review.

This is the fourth recorded time that I’ve read this. Much like Way-farer though, I had also read this several times in highschool and through Bibleschool. So in reality, this is probably my sixth or seventh time and I still love it. Reading it for the first time now I’d probably pooh-pooh this as mediocre SF and move right on. But this is one of those books that got its hooks in me early on and has never let go.

This was a “fun” idea and Foster executes it well in one book. There is a lot of time building things up before Evan gets transformed into a Prismite and yet each time it comes as a surprise to me. I suspect part of it is that events with him and Martine as Prismites are bigger in scope whereas the previous stuff is smaller so it comes across as a bigger portion even though its not.

Basically, I like this book no matter what. For me, this is the quintessential standalone science fiction adventure story. It is Perfect even while I acknowledge that it really isn’t. But reading it 4 times in 18 years? I think that speaks for itself and the fact that I still enjoyed it this time around as much as I did back in 2000. After my mis-adventure with Dragon’s Gold and realizing how my tastes have matured, it is good to find that some books can withstand even me being more mature * wink *

Another plus to reading the same book multiple times is that I can see how I have grown as a reviewer and not just as a reader. I think you’d agree that this review is VERY different from my first one in 2000.

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

 

A Fire Upon the Deep ★★★☆½

afireuponthedeep (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: A Fire Upon the Deep
Series: Zones of Thought #1
Author: Vernor Vinge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 624
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Space is divided up into various Zones and in each Zone different levels of technology will work. As you descend Deeper, less and less tech will work.

An outpost of humanity has discovered some sort of hidden library, with all sorts of old, powerful information. Unfortunately for them, said tech is sentient and inimical to any concept of freedom. The humans are subverted or destroyed but one ship manages to get away. Inside this ship is 1 family, with 150 kids in cryo-sleep, along with a secret that could be the secret to stopping the Blight, what the sentient becomes known as.

The Blight, in an upper Zone, begins spreading and taking out Powers, other beings with potential to stop it. This spreads consternation among space faring civilizations across the universe but all assume that the Blight will be stuck in the upper Zones, unable to interfere with them in the middle Zone. This turns out not to be the case, as the Blight takes over its hosts and manipulates them like puppets. It destroys a space station, for lack of a better word, and sends one human, 1 created human and 2 plant aliens on a journey to find the ship that originally fled from the Blight.

The ship aformentioned, crashes on a pre-space tech world and they are immediately ambushed. The parents are killed and the 2 children are split up. The sentients of this world are packs and must be in groups of at leasat 4 to rationally think. Each child ends up in an opposing group and the groups leaders march on each other to take over the tech.

The ship from the Space Station has lots of misadventures and finally makes it to the world with the children. There the created human male sets loose the weapon on the crashed ship, which turns a huge area of space into a Deep Zone, one where faster than light travel is not physically possible. This puts an end to the Blight, as this Zone went up into the Transcendent Zone where the Blight resided and pretty much froze it into place.

The sibling are reunited and now the humans must live on a world where they are the interlopers and there is no chance of ever going back into Transcendant Space.

 

My Thoughts:

I went all over the place when reading this. First, I was just plain confused at the whole Zone thing. There was no reason given, no explanations, nothing. It was presented fait accompli and that type of attitude on the author’s part, unless done really well, usually pisses me off. It pissed me of this time.

I enjoyed the dichotomy of storylines. The lady and created human and plant aliens were all on a spaceship and were definitely a SF storyline. Then the kids on the planet was almost fantasy, as it was medieval tech level but with pack intelligence. I enjoyed reading about that, as the “being” would change over time as pack members would die and be replaced by pack members that weren’t the same. It would be like being able to change your arms and legs, etc, but to have those changes also affect your mental and emotional capabilities. It as the stuff of straight up fantasy. So to have both these storylines going on at once and then converge, I really enjoyed them.

However, a lot of the characters did some really stupid things and acted stupidly and acted irrationally and I hated that. No one character had the scoop on it and it got spread around. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to root for, as even the intelligent people were crippled by fear and paranioa and other internal struggles.

Overall, this was a decent and enjoyable read. There is a prequel and a sequel but I have no desire to read them or to seek out more by this author. Maybe if I was more into SF these days, but my bent is definitely towards Fantasy and the Heroic Character.

★★★☆½

bookstooge