The Compleat Bolo ★★★★ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Compleat Bolo
Series: ———
Author: Keith Laumer
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 320
Format: Digital Scan

 

Synopsis:

A collection of short stories and whatever you call a 50page story, not really a short story but not a novella either. Anyway, stories about the evolution of the tanks known as Bolos. From their mechanical beginnings to their self awareness to their “we’re smarter than humas so lets help them out”ness.

Bolos are loyal, brave, determined, nigh unstoppable and better representatives of humanity than any human. In other words, they are great mechanical main characters without the Skynet vibe.

 

My Thoughts:

I really needed this read. After The Punch Escrow I needed something to remind me that not all humans are bastard baby killers. So of course, I read a book where tanks are the main characters.

The humans in these stories are props for the most part. While they figure more prominently in earlier stories, as the stories progress the Bolos take center stage more often than not. Honor and duty are big points in these stories and I actually teared up at one story about a bolo sacrificing itself to save the humans. Sometimes I’m so weak.

This is probably more of an actual 4star book, but when compared to Punch, it rockets up. Some of the problems might be insurmountable for some. While this book was published in 1990, the stories come from the 60’s through the 80’s. In places, it shows. Word plays making fun of a politician’s name [McCarthy anyone?], communications, the 40 people in the one town on one world all talking like Jeb Clampet. I read more “hick talk” in this short book than I have in a long time.

Having read this in the 90’s soon after it came out and then during college and then again in ’01, I can’t say that I’m exactly unbiased. I like this collection of stories. I’ve never been tempted to try the full length spin off Bolo novels by other authors though. This book I recommend. Those others, try them at your own risk.

★★★★ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. The Compleat Bolo [2001 Review]
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The Punch Escrow ☆☆☆☆ ½ DNF@42%

punchescrow (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Punch Escrow
Series: ———-
Author: Tal Klein
Rating: 0.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 333
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things
 yet to be
among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

English Standard Version

 

My Thoughts:

 

SYLVIA
“I had an abortion, Joel.”

….

“I guess about a month later , I realized I was pregnant. Keeping it was never an option. I had career plans, and my dad wasn’t well,so I…”

….

“I’m sorry I never told you.”

….

 

JOEL

“I love you, Syl. You made the right choice.”

That “you made the right choice” killed this book completely. Between the, once again, complete lack of originality [go watch the movie The Prestige, or read some foundational science fiction] that I moaned about in Dark Matter and that complete disregard for the most helpless of human life, I am done.

☆☆☆☆ ½

bookstooge

 

Line War (Polity: Agent Cormac #5) ★★★☆ ½

Linewar (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Line War
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #5
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 580
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Erebus, the rogue AI that has been corrupted by Jain nodes, is on the path to destroying the solar system. With fake attacks and whatnot, he manages to clear the way to Earth itself. Standing in his way is the haiman who committed murder for a jain node and Ian Cormac.

Cormac has been running all over the Polity, ostensibly chasing down Erebus but in reality picking up clues that lead him to only one conclusion. ECS, the Head Honcho AI, colluded with Erebus right when Erebus first found jain nodes. Its justification was that humanity was stagnating,but with millions and possibly billions dead, Cormac puts the smack down on that particular AI and kills it. A submind takes over but with the spectre of Cormac haunting it should it ever decide to go so outside of bounds.

The Dragon Sphere takes Mika and allows her access to Jain AI, which in turn allows her to deal with the gabbleduck/Atheter AI, possibly.

 

My Thoughts:

Nothing from my original review from 2010 has changed. This was a particularly wordy story and there were a lot of details that just didn’t need to be there. It really bogged the story down. Instead of an adrenaline filled gorefest of robots and monsters I got an indepth tour of things I didn’t care one whit about. That’s why I knocked half a star off this time.

There is still a lot of action but sometimes it felt like it was really hidden away. Also, Cormac played a MUCH smaller part. The biggest thing he did was at the end when he killed ECS. I guess this just didn’t stand up to a re-read as well as some of the previous books. The ideas were really cool the first time around and covered up all the weak points. This time around, I was seeing the weakpoints.

I had forgotten that the Atheter memcrystal came into play so early in the Polity books. I just read a big part of it’s conclusion in the Polity: Transformation trilogy last year. That is one nice thing about re-reads, seeing various threads that you’d forgotten about being more deeply woven into the story.

I do wonder if we’ll ever see Agent Cormac again. He hasn’t shown up, that I’m aware of, in later Polity books. But if we don’t, I’m completely satisfied with how this 5 books sub-series ended.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge

 

  1. Line War (2010 Review)
  2. Polity Agent (Book 4)
  3. Brass Man (Book 3)
  4. The Line of Polity (Book 2)
  5. Gridlinked (Book 1)
  6. Polity: Transformation Trilogy

 

Redemption (Omega Force #7) ★★★☆☆

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Redemption
Series: Omega Force #7
Author: Joshua Dalzelle
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 304
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Taking place 3 years after the previous book, Omega Force has fallen apart due to Cristoff abandoning one of the Omega Force members when they can’t fulfill one of his missions. Jason tries to keep the team together but when he can’t, he gives up, moves to a beach front world, becomes a delivery boy with Lucky the robot and pretty much lets himself go. He also completely burns his bridges with Kallea when rescuing Crusher.

When the princess for another galaxy spanning Empire, rivaling that of the ConFed, is kidnapped, it appears that war is going to happen and billions could die. The princess’s handmaid escapes, on Jason’s old delivery ship, he’s involved whether he wants to be or not. The only way to rescue the princess and prevent interstellar war is to get the gang back together. But when one Super Power wants you dead and a clique within the other is plotting to take over, things might be harder than expected.

But Omega Force always gets the job done. And with this job, they have the thanks of the King of an Empire, with “mysterious” problems along its other borders. And a princess that has the hots for Cap’n Jason. * wolf whistle *

Almost like Dalzelle is setting up future story installments.

 

My Thoughts:

This starts off with a barely functioning Jason, drunk as a skunk getting helped along by Lucky. It was rather disconcerting, as we don’t get WHY Omega Force fell apart until some time later.

In many ways, this felt like Dalzelle ran out of ideas for within the ConFed and so kind of rebooted the whole Omega Force thingamajig. I didn’t feel that it was handled real well, especially with how things with Kallea went down. Relationships, even fake ones in books, shouldn’t get treated like a drama prop.

Other than that, this was exactly the same in tone as all the previous Omega Force books. If I was in a cranky mood like I was when I read Dark Matter I’d probably rip into this more. But I don’t expect much from these, so I don’t have to give much in a review. These are like Forgotten Realms for Science Fiction.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

  1. Secret of the Phoenix (Book 6)
  2. Return of the Archon (Book 5)
  3. The Enemy Within (Book 4)
  4. Savage Homecoming (Book 3)
  5. Soldiers of Fortune (Book 2)
  6. Omega Rising (Book 1)

 

Dark Matter ★★★☆☆

darkmatter (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Matter
Series: ——
Author: Blake Crouch
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 354
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Jason Desson, a once up and coming scientist [which type, I forget. It doesn’t matter to me or any normal person who reads this book. It would be like describing which handgun some hero used. It only matters to a very small segment] chose his family life with his wife and son-to-be over his career and now teaches at a local college.

He is kidnapped one night and wakes up in another world. He figures out he’s in a parallel universe and with the help of one the scientists from Jason2’s world, attempts to get back to “his” world. And ‘his’ Daniella.

After much experimenting and whining and other bs, he makes it home. Only to find that what makes the whole paralell universe thing viable is that there are over 70 other Jason who all made it back too. Our Jason thinks of a clever plan, rescues his wife and son, outsmarts all the other Jasons and uses his son to find a new world to start a new life on.

 

My Thoughts:

I wanted to enjoy this more than I did. Part of it is that everything is predicated on an atheistic outlook, ie, there is no Supreme Being, no Supreme Observer. Schrodinger’s Cat razzle dazzle means diddly squat if there is one all knowing, all seeing, all powerful God. Dark Matter, too. The second issue is where is all this energy coming from to create all these branched universes? Parallel worlds being created with every choice we make sounds great and if you’re 25 is a great idea to bat around, but when you look at it through the lens of universal constants, it is as pie in the sky as the moon being made of green cheese. The third ramification is that of the soul. That is theology and once again, it is completely bypassed and ignored. For me, that as actually more important and the lack of thought about it pushed me out of the story.

Ok, with all of those out of the way….

Ha, who I am kidding.

I enjoyed this. BUT…

Sliders. Stargate SG1. Other tv shows I can’t even remember off the top of my head. I kept getting flashes of those while reading this. I felt like I was re-treading an old trail.

It was fun. It was interesting. It wasn’t original though and I have to admit, from all the rah, rah, rah I’d heard about Crouch, I was expecting something original. Crap, maybe I’m getting old. I can handle unoriginal ideas. I thrive on the Hero’s Journey, Coming of Age stories, the Underdog Winning against Impossible Odds, the Evil McEvilson getting his Just Rewards [of death!]. But this was like those conversations I had with my friend Isaac when we were in highschool, bibleschool and shortly after. As soon as the guy in the mask showed up, I knew every major plot point that was going to happen and that disappointed me.

This was not a bad book by any means. I would recommend it to “New to SF” readers, it’ll blow their minds. But my mind’s already been blown by this idea, 15-20+ years ago. Timothy Zahn explored this in his short stories. Go read his short collection Cascade Point and Other Stories.

I just wanted to like this more and I couldn’t.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

Revenger ★★☆☆ ½

revenger (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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Revenger
Series: ——
Author: Alistair Reynolds
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: YA-SF
Pages: 411
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Adrana and Fura Ness run away from home and join the crew of a spaceship that looks for treasures from older civilizations. They are “Bone Readers”, which allows them to communicate with other Bone Readers on other ships. They’re first mission sees them attacked by the Dread Pirate Bosa Sennen (make sure you said that part like Andre the Giant does in The Princess Bride) and Adrana is captured, Ness hides in the walls of the ship and one other of the crew, Porzor, survives. Fura and Porzor are rescued and Fura, who is under age, is taken back to her ailing father.

Back home Fura is given drugs to keep her docile and fed the story that her sister is dead, not alive and captured. Fura resists, hooks back up with Porzor on another ships and plans how to rescue Adrana and get her revenge on Bosa Sennen.

*Spoiler*

Fura tricks the crew to get some special armor, makes them a target for Bosa Sennen, kills all the crew on Bosa Sennen’s ship and takes it over. She rescues her sister Adrana, who now believes in the cause that Bosa Sennen was fighting for, and Fura pretty much becomes Bosa Sennen in all but name.

/End Spoiler of Everything

 

My Thoughts:

This was not my first book by Reynolds and for that I am intensely grateful. I read Beyond the Aquila Rift just last year in fact. What a great book. So I KNOW at what level Reynolds can write.

Unfortunately, this was deliberately written to be sold in the YA genre and it shows. I’d actually recommend this to a 12-14 year old and once they’d gotten used to Reynold’s name, introduce them to his other stuff when they hit the mid to late teens.

My biggest issue. The slang words used. I am going to just list the ones that I can remember:

  1. Glowy
  2. the grey
  3. the squawky
  4. the Swirly
  5. gubbins
  6. the viewy
  7. lungstuff

There were more,but those stuck out the most. A mature society doesn’t talk like that. A closed, insular society would but that disappears when homogenization takes place. Only teens talk like that, making ordinary things just a little bit different to make it their own. Needless to say, every time I read the word “lungstuff” I was completely thrown out of the book.

My other issue is Fura Ness. She goes from being a naive, tender young thing to a complete bad ass who glows and has a metal hand but she can’t think for crap. She has no plan, she has no tactical training, no fighting training, nothing in fact but the Righteous Anger of her Cause. She is presented as someone as tough as Bosa Sennen by the end of the book, but there is nothing to back that up. Being hard emotionally and having some real anger issues aren’t going to actually do you squat when facing trained professionals. But this being a YA book, it IS enough.

For a review by someone who has read more Reynolds than me [admittedly, not a hard goal to reach], please check out Manuel’s review of Revenger.

Now that I have read this, I’m spurred on to track down Reynolds’ other books so at least this book has that one good point.

★★☆☆ ½

 

bookstooge

 

The Praxis (Dread Empires Fall #1) ★★★☆ ½

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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 & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Praxis
Series: Dread Empires Fall #1
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 454
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Shaa rule the known universe under the precepts of The Praxis, a series of laws that are constant and reduce the amount of chaos in the empire. All races bow to the Shaa and have for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years.

But the Shaa have died out and only one remains. This is the story of the Empire once that Shaa dies.

We follow a young Navy puke, Gareth Martinez, as he goes through the tumultuous time. Single handedly preventing another species, the Praxids, from taking the Shaa’s place, Martinez rises to captain of his own ship and becomes a hero.

We also follow Caroline Sula, last member of the disgraced Sula household. In the navy, trying to rebuild her fortunes, Sula is a pilot with a huge secret. She’s not actually Caroline Sula.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a decent read. The only other books I’ve read by Williams have been in the Star Wars universe and ONE book back in ’09. So he’s practically a new-to-me author.

So this is Space Opera, in the finest tradition. Huge Empires. Factions spanning galaxies. Armies beginning the titanic struggle for supremacy of said Huge Empire.

But what is Space Opera without some leading characters with great voices? So we get Gareth and Caroline. Decent enough, but honestly, if I carry the Opera comparison over, they don’t have the projecting, hall filling voice that a main character needs. They’re not bland amateur voices but they aren’t the mature voices of huge fat people belting out an aria at the top of their lungs. I’m hoping our two main characters chub up a bit by the end of this trilogy * wink *

Having read enough Science Fiction, I knew what was coming as soon as it was revealed that the last of the Shaa was dying. So the overall plot is no surprise, but I have to admit I was hoping the disintegration would start a little faster. I guess I’ll have to wait for the next 2 books for that to take place.

Also, Space Opera means Space Battles. Man, I HATE space battles. It’s tough to describe 5 minutes of action that stretches out for days. It is BORING, even when the author skips all the boring in-between times. Bleh. Give me marines with super rifles blowing the crap out of aliens any day! I hope there is some of THAT in the next 2 books.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge