Hell’s Gate ★★★☆☆

hellsgate (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: Hell’s Gate
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 190
Words: 68K

 

Synopsis:

Victor Salsburys awakes with almost no memories and a voice in his head telling him what to do. Without emotion and almost no control, Victor obeys and kills a man, who looks just like him. Wondering what is going on, Victor follows the instructions of the voice and finds a cave and falls asleep.

Waking up 2 weeks later, Victor moves into a house in a small town. He seems to have shaken off whatever control the unseen voices had over him but he is filled with knowledge that he doesn’t know how he owns. He IS Victor Salsbury but he appears to also be something else, something stronger, faster and smarter. Victor is attacked one night by an automaton that uses weaponry Victor instinctively understands. However, Victor is wounded and is nursed back to health by the young woman who sold him the house. Victor also saw a glowing portal through the attacker came and behind that portal were beings of demonic visage.

One of Victor’s pieces of luggage turns out to be a super computer and tells him that he is an experiment from the far future where Earth and all alternate Earth’s have been conquered by the beings Victor saw. Victor is humanity’s last chance at destroying the machinery that allows the creatures to travel across the multiverse. Victor must cross the portal, make his way to Earth Prime and destroy the starship base where the demons live.

He succeed with the help of other alternate Earth humans and returns to the girl and lives happily ever after.

 

My Thoughts:

Funny thing about Koontz. Even though he re-uses the same ideas over and over, he re-uses them in different combinations so that no story is the same. We have the name Victor, proto-flesh that doesn’t bleed, inimical beings that want to destroy our world, etc. And it is a completely new story.

I had to wonder if James Cameron read this before he made the Terminator movie. While I was reading this I had to look up the published date (it was 1970 by the way) because so many of the things reminded me of the Terminator. A soldier returned to the past, portals that could only pass certain materials through, unstoppable killing machines that were vaguely humanoid. It wasn’t a play by play but the similarities were enough that it raised questions in my mind. The ending is as rushed as ever, or maybe I should say Koontz rushes the ending and has never stopped that practice even in his books today?

And yet, while I complain about stuff and only give this 3 stars, I have no intention (as of yet anyway) of stopping my reading of books by Koontz. I still enjoy them even while acknowledging their inherent weaknesses. I guess that makes him a good author? Facepalm

Oh, and that cover? It really does look like that. It is the weirdest thing ever.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Infinity Engine (Polity: Transformation #3)

infinityengine (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: Infinity Engine
Series: Polity: Transformation #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 577
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

All the threads that Penny Royal has been weaving come together.

The Brockle confronts Penny Royal, assured that its upgraded self can handle anything. Until Penny Royal reveals just how powerful it has become and it throws the Brockle into a black hole, where the Brockle is eventually destroyed.

The Atheter gets off of its planet Masada and takes control of the Polity War Factory 101 and turns it into a Atheter space ship.

Thorvald Spear hooks up with a hot chick and has a ton of money so he’s supposedly taken care of. He also has a black diamond, which it is hinted might contain a part of the mind of Penny Royal.

Penny Royal itself transcends time and space and realizes that time is a loop of nothing but big bangs and heat deaths of the universe. The book ends with Penny Royal wondering if it can change that cycle.

 

My Thoughts:

I made the mistake of waiting almost 2 weeks to write this review. I really should have written it the day after I finished the book. I’ve already forgotten a ton of detail and honestly, the above synopsis is all I can remember of specifics.

I enjoyed my time reading this, hence the 4 stars, but something about Penny Royal has never really clicked with me. I was always more interested in the other characters, the pawn pieces as it were and with this book we don’t get quite as much about them because this is truly about Penny Royal.

While I enjoyed this, I don’t think I’ll be re-reading this particular sub-series again.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge #1) ★★★☆½

legionnaire (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: Legionnaire
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #1
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 308
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sergeant Chunn, along with his fellow Legionnaires (elite soldiers of the Republic), are on a planet running a political mission, ie, support the natives who want to join the Republic. They’re supported by Repub-Army and are led by a political appointed “Legionnaire”, Lt Devers.

Things go sidewise when the orbiting support ship is destroyed, their base on the planet is over run and their supposed native allies turn on them with help from an alliance that is opposed to the Republic. The Legionnaire’s commander, Pappy, is out of commission and Devers takes over. To disastrously bumble everything, to the point that the soldiers attack a village of natives that are hosting some Republic scientists.

Pappy wakes up long enough to make Chunn a brevet Lt and the current Lt Ford, a brevet Captain. One of the Legionnaire grunts, Exo, tries to kill Devers for all his mistakes but is pulled back by his buddies.

Everybody holes up and makes a last stand, only to have the MCR (Mid Core Rebels) show up with an old star ship and fighters. Only to have the Republic’s Big Guns show up and rescue them.

The book ends with Devers getting all sorts of awards and Exo drinking himself into a stupor wondering why he’s even in the legion. He runs across an old legionnaire who tells him a story to hopefully inspire him to get back in the fight.

 

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Military SF story. It was all about the ground pounders and that is what I like.

I think the authors did a good job with the characters, as I was cheering for the Legionnaires and absolutely hating Devers the political appointee. When you can feel that much distaste for a character you know the authors did their job correctly!

There are no real surprises, which I was perfectly ok with. When it comes to Mil-SF, I prefer the tried and true formula of SNAFU, Fight, Good Guys Win, Bad Guys Lose. It is very comforting. It is like eating mashed potatoes. Good, warm and filling.

This is a longer series, currently running around 9 books. I have no idea if the series goes into a longer story arc or if each book is a standalone’ish story. Personally, I’m hoping for standalone story time but we’ll see. We shall also have to see if the authors do the whole “token SJW wokeness” thing. I’d like to think not, but considering how I’ve seen it in other indie books, I’m not holding my breath.

To wrap up, a thoroughly fun book that hit all the right buttons for me and the start of a series. I hope the series continues as well as this book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

Honour Guard (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4) ★★★☆½

honourguard (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: Honour Guard
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #4
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

From the Wiki and Me

The Ghosts are sent to the Shrineworld Hagia, religious capital of the Sabbat worlds and homeworld of the revered Saint Sabbat herself, to reclaim the holy world from the clutches of Pater Sin and his so-called Infardi. During their campaign to reclaim the Doctrinopolis – the planet’s central city – Gaunt, who has command of the ground forces, is forced into a trap set in one of the most holy structures in the city. A warp-beacon is activated in the process, and a Chaos fleet advances on Hagia to obliterate the Imperial forces.

With just eighteen days until the fleet (large enough to wipe out the liberation force even if the fleet were a quarter its current size) arrives, Gaunt is given one last chance to redeem himself by the arrogant and pompous Lord-General Lugo: recover the Saint’s remains and holy relics from the Shrinehold in the Sacred Hills for evacuation. The Ghosts are appointed as the honour guard of these relics, and together with units from the Pardus armoured regiments they form a convoy and journey into the mountains. However, much of Sin’s Infardi horde has pulled back into the hills; leaving the Ghosts with no choice but to fight the heretics while at the same time fighting the elements and navigating the unfamiliar terrain.

Several of the wounded, left back in the city, start hearing a voice telling them “Sabbat Martyr” in their heads. They band together and meet Gaunt at the shrine. Turns out they are all needed to activate a secret weapon left by Sabbat to protect her homeworld. The Psychic Weapon is activated and destroys every creature on the planet with the taint of Chaos. It also destroys the chaos beacon and scatters the approaching chaos fleet.

My Thoughts:

As long as you turn off your brain about the super psychic weapon (as in, why aren’t those things being studied and recreated now, instead of lying around for 6000 years), this was a lot of fun to read.

Abnett mixed things up by introducing a whole host of armoured tanks to complement the Ghosts and their being strictly infantry. Not a big mechanized tank fan though, so it didn’t do much for me. I did like that Abnett addresses how taking on new “Ghosts” affects them as a unit.

Gaunt is revealed to be a very religious man, with him venerating, if not worshipping, Saint Sabbat. Since there hasn’t been any of that to date, I wonder if I’ll see any more of it in later books. I highly doubt it however. It came across as more superstition than devotion though. I suspect most of that is because the religious side of Warhammer 40K is some paint on it, not something integral to it like a load bearing beam.

Gaunt gets in trouble with the over-General and while he succeeds at the end of the book, what happens politically wasn’t written about. I suspect that will play a big part in the beginning of the next book.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

It’s Hell to Choose (Kurtherian Gambit #9) ★☆☆☆☆

itshelltochoose (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: It’s Hell to Choose
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #9
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 313
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

TQB Enterprises is going semi-public. Not only have they revealed their space capabilities but also that they have other tech that is very advanced. Tech that companies and countries want, now, for free. A group of highly skilled mercenaries are hired to infiltrate the American base that is the current headquarters for TQB and to data mine it and then destroy it, with a nuke. This is sanctioned by a US government Senator.

At the same time TQB advances its space plans to create a space station in months, instead of years. Bethany Ann wants off the Earth so she’s not entangled in the politics. She also begins the process of integrating the Vamps and Weres into a single fighting unit instead of splitting them up, as has historically happened.

Most of the TQB tech is moved into space and given protection by the new fighter units. They outmatch some French fighter jets and put one of them on the Eiffel Tower. They also move everything from the United States base into storage or prep it for space. They fight off the mercenary attack but Michael sacrifices himself to get rid of the nuke.

The book ends with Bethany Ann being all broken up about Michael’s death, since she confessed that “she loved him”. She begins to focus that fury into accomplishing her goal of protecting the Earth against whatever maybe coming.

 

My Thoughts:

So this is where the Kurtherian Gambit and I part ways. First, there are the token homosexuals that Anderle throws in, for wokeness points, then there is the unspoken deification of Bethany Ann and finally the “character growth” that was meant to happen by Michael’s supposed demise.

Obviously, the first issue is one that I’ve made my stance on very clear. No need to talk about it yet again.

The second issue is one that has been building for me for the last couple of books. Bethany Ann is growing so powerful, with no checks upon her and we as readers have no idea what sets her moral compass. Anderle throws in some stuff about “loyalty” and general goodness and crap, but when a character is the most powerful entity on a planet, and pretty much is going to run things how they see fit, as an author you’d better make sure that you’re not creating a tinpot tyrant. I don’t see that happening with Anderle. Bethany Ann is a tyrant with unfettered power and an attitude of “my way or the highway, bub”. While Anderle writes her as protecting humanity, there is no real reason given. She’s just “good”. I know I’m using a lot of quotation words here, but this issue really bothers me. What makes her so good, what sets her apart from all the other humans on the planet (those same humans who show their worst at a moments notice by the way), etc. Being Good by authorial fiat works in a shorter storyline, but we’re up to book 9 here.

I took a step back from this issue to make sure it wasn’t a gender thing. I have some strong opinions on that issue that are about as popular as my stance on the whole homosexuality thing so I sat back and thought. Would I have these same issues if this series had been about Michael? And the answer is a resounding “Yes!”, if he’d been Bethany Ann’ized into Good Incarnate. Bethany Ann is just inherently good and every decision she makes, while not necessarily the best one, is always the right one. I am obviously over-thinking that aspect, but it has cropped up enough for me to realize it would have bugged me for the rest of the series.

Finally, the character development, or lack thereof. I was perfectly fine with these books being action packed, wham bam books. Introduce the characters, give them a hint of a personality and then just go from there. But don’t try to make your characters “real” if you don’t have the writing chops to do it. We’re led to believe that Bethany Ann and Michael have this deep soul connection, because they go out on a couple of dates and sleep together and Bethany Ann confesses she loves Michael? Come on, even I can write that! So don’t do it. Telling me something, as a reader,  is very different from showing it. And it is hard to show character development in a 300 page book with so many characters and so much going on.

So that is why I’m done with the Kurtherian Gambit series. Anderle does have another series, the Amazing Mr Brownstone, that I’m hoping to start sometime next year. It is another long running series that I hope doesn’t have the same issues as this series. With my drop in reading, I certainly won’t be waiting until book 9 to make a final decision about it.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Prefect (Revelation Space #7) ★★★★☆

prefect (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 Prefect
Series: Revelation Space #7
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 516
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, an officer in the Panoply, a police force that enforces the few laws of the Glitter Band that orbits the planet Yellowstone.

Things start off with a bang as an Ultra ship uses its engines to wipe out 1 of the 10,000 Habitats. Dreyfus is sent in to investigate by his boss, Jane Aumonier. Jane had a run-in several years ago with an entity named the Clockmaker and has a mechanical tick on neck that places all sorts of restrictions on her or it will kill her.

During Dreyfus’s investigation it becomes apparent that the Ultra Captain was framed to cover something else up. While this investigation is going on, Dreyfus’s newest underling, Thalia Ng, is sent out on a routine software patch update to 4 of the Habitats. Said patch closes a loophole that allowed those habitats to sway the voting in their habitats, which is strictly against the Law. Thalia installs the code but finds out that it hid some other code that allowed another entity to take over those Habitats.

Thus is revealed the Bad Guy, Aurora Nerval-Lermontov. She is the only surviving member of the 80, an experiment by the Sylveste’s to truly digitize humans. She has been hiding and found a ship full of Conjoiners. Said conjoiners could see the future and saw the melding plague, which spells the end of the Glitter Band, and thus Aurora, as she would be destroyed by the melding plague. Aurora wants to prevent this plague but the only way she thinks is viable is to take over and control the entire Glitter Band, no matter how many people she has to kill.

Thalia must survive on the Habitat she is on while the rest of the Panoply tries to deal with Aurora, who has a traitor inside the Panoply. She uses the resources of the 4 Habitats she controls to create drones to spread her control code to other Habitats. Panoply ends up nuking several of them to contain the spread but realize they can’t really stop Aurora.

Dreyfus realizes that the first Habitat destroyed by the Ultra ship probably contained the Clockmaker and that Aurora was behind it, as the Clockmaker is the only entity Aurora truly fears. Dreyfus races against the traitor in their midst to find the Clockmaker and release it.

The Clockmaker and Aurora end up inhabiting the entire data band, which slows them down and makes them a non-threat for at least a century or two. The Panoply and the Ultra’s get together to clean up the remnants of Aurora’s forces and Dreyfus deals with the traitor, regains some memories he never knew he’d even lost and Life Goes On.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. Since I had already read about the melding plague and the glitter band, the situation presented to me wasn’t completely outside what I could comprehend.

That being said, this was only a decent end to my Revelation Space series read. I enjoyed what I read but I was neither wowed or impressed nor disgusted.

Dreyfus came across as this careworn, stoic, tired man who could barely function. I didn’t enjoy him as a character even while he wasn’t boring. No character was boring though. Each and everyone was unique and made the story what it was. I didn’t feel like anyone should have been cut out nor did I feel like I wanted “someone else”. But by the end of the book I realized that my time with Reynolds was over.

It feels kind of funny to be giving this 4stars and yet saying it wasn’t good enough to keep me reading more Reynolds, but hey, thems the breaks! Reynold’s style just never grabbed me like Neal Asher’s writing did, so take from that what you may.

Glad I read this compendium of 7 books but I’ve had enough.

★★★★☆

 

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)