War Factory (Polity: Transformation #2) ★★★★☆

d256c6276aa7e43ce7408d202cdf0f95This 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: War Factory
Series: Polity: Transformation #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 472
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

There are viewpoints from: Captain Blight and Crew, who Penny Royal the Black AI hitches rides with; Sverl the Prador who is turning into a human, prador and AI, Thorvald Spear who started out hunting down Penny Royal and now carries out its wishes; Cvorn the Prador who is trying to re-start the war between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom; Oberon the King of the Prador who seems to be a Spatterjay virus infected Prador who is trying to change his subjects so they can survive long term; and finally The Brockle, a forensic AI who pretty much tortures people and other AI who have committed crimes until the Polity gets what they want from the criminals, the Brockle considers Penny Royal to be the biggest criminal in the Polity to date.

Penny Royal seems to be trying to figure something out but nobody is sure exactly what that is. In the process it is fixing many of its past mistakes, most of which are included in the list of POV’s above.

The End Point is Room 101, a War Factory (hence the name of the book) from the war and the journey is getting everyone there at the proper time.

 

My Thoughts:

It has only been 3 years since I last read this but really, aside from from a couple of overall things, it was like reading a brand new book. It probably doesn’t help that the synopsis is so vague because of how many viewpoints there are that are interweaving for the whole book.

Speaking of viewpoints, Asher handled them like a champ. Unlike that rat custard Gwynne, I never got annoyed reading them during this book. When a view point would change, I never felt like I was leaving something undone and wanted to stay. Asher wove his story adroitly and expertly and I for one appreciated that.

The only real downside was that Asher once again delves into crustacean sex, like he did in one of his spatterjay books. I don’t know why he finds giant crabs doing it exciting, but he sure does. Doesn’t matter if it is used as a device to kill Cvorn later on, but having Cvorn cut off a younger crabs genitals, stitch them on himself and then use them to have sex for again for the first time in decades is just not something I really want to read about. However, it is unique. So if you are looking for a unique reading experience, you’ll get that here!

I did like how Asher delves into what is murder. Being an atheist, he approaches it from the complete cessation of existence. So a society that can recreate an entity if they’ve recorded themselves onto crystal has to decide what is murder. Asher, like many technologists of today, simply assumes that the brain and every biological part, CAN be recorded and that we are nothing but a collection of data. It doesn’t bother me because this is a universe in which AI exist. Throw in some dragons and the probability factor doesn’t actually change, if you know what I mean.

Half of the action was spaceship oriented, which isn’t my thing, but thankfully the other half was all groundpounder action. Now THAT is my thing.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

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Necropolis (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3) ★★★☆½

necropolis (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:
Necropolis
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #3
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The world of Verghast is comprised of Hive cities, which are great manufactoring cities that enable the Empire to continue its war against Chaos. Rivalries exist however and war between cities is not unknown. One such war breaks out and the city we read about call on the Empire for help, as their capture will severely curtail the current Crusade in space.

Gaunt, his Ghosts and several other Imperial forces descend to put an end to the spat. However, things are not at all what they seem. The head of the city is insane and tries to open it up to the enemies. The enemies are revealed to be the entire population of the opposing Hive city, all chaos tainted into fanatical death troopers. It is also revealed that some higher Chaos lord, Asphodel, is behind it all.

Gaunt and Co destroy the enemy but effectively lose the city in the process. The book ends with the surviving population heading off to start 2 new smaller Hive cities and most of the militia and those who fought with Gaunt becoming part of the Ghosts, as they too lost their home.

 

My Thoughts:

I think this was the darkest Gaunt’s Ghost book yet. The Ghost’s rival, the Bluebloods, led by some Captain or General, pretty much loses it and the general tries to run away. Gaunt, as a Commisar, sentences him on the spot and gives him his gun to kill himself. The coward turns it on Gaunt and Gaunt has to kill him. About time as far as I was concerned. Those bluebloods were bad news for everybody.

The body count was in the millions. People die in such large numbers that it was almost incomprehensible. I also didn’t even bother to keep track of peoples’ names because chances were greater that they would be dead in the next chapter than not. The focus was more on the politics dividing the city and on the workers who were fighting in the trenches.

In many ways this felt like a campaign scenario from the game Warhammer40K. I could almost hear the dungeonmaster (or whatever the controller in a game of WH40K is called) telling the facts of what the players were facing and the dice rolling. Scent of a Gamer is a blogger I follow who does miniatures and I kept picturing posts from his blog about various projects he’s done.

I have been wondering how 30,000 Ghosts were going to last 10+ books when we lose so many each book. Well this book answered that in spades. Take on survivors from other lost worlds. Now we’ll have to see if what makes the Ghosts the Ghosts morphs into something else with the influx of new blood.

Overall I enjoyed this and while it threatened to get a little too dark for me it never crossed that threshhold.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dark Intelligence (Polity: Transformation #1) ★★★★½

f5c20b1147913d15c73b181229ed7c8cThis 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: Dark Intelligence
Series: Polity: Transformation #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Thorvald Spear wakes up in a hospital. Which is odd, because he remembers being killed by a Polity AI named Penny Royal, almost 100 years ago, an AI that was supposed to be rescuing him and his men on a Prador occupied world. With his memory still a bit glitchy, Spear does know one thing for certain, Penny Royal must die.

Spear tracks down Penny Royal’s old spaceship. With the help of a powerful gangster named Isabel Satomi, who made a deal of her own with Penny Royal and is now regretting it, Spear plans on tracking Penny Royal down to whatever hidden lair it’s hiding in. With Satomi’s transformation having gone a bit further than anticipated (she’s turning into a hooder), Spear abandons her and sets out on his own.

Satomi wanted revenge on Penny Royal for the changes it started in her. But with Spear’s betrayal, she’ll happily kill him too. She heads to a world in the Graveyard (an area of space between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom where neither has an official presence) where she can gather her forces and pursue Spear and then Penny Royal. While on The Rock Pool, a world ruled by a prador named Sverl who also made a deal with Penny Royal, the other Prador revolt against Sverl and he is forced to help Satomi if either of them want to survive.

All during this time Penny Royal has been dancing around and through everything, apparently orchestrating “something”. It shows up at Masada, an apparent guest of the newly sentient Atheter. Both Spear and Satomi also show up at Masada. Satomi is now a complete biomech warmachine, like the Technician before its demise. With such a weapon, the Atheter can now claim full control of Masada and kick the Polity out.

Satomi’s consciousness is pulled from the hooder into a crystal memplant. Spear realizes he has been manipulated this whole time so Penny Royal can begin making good on all the bad things it did while a Black AI.

 

My Thoughts:

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars this time around was because there was a very awkward, unnecessary and completely gratuitous sex scene ¾ of the way through the book. Other than that, I loved this book, again.

It has only been about 4 years since I initially read this but that is something like 600 books ago, so this was a good refresher. I remembered some of the larger details but that didn’t in anyway detract from my enjoyment.

The first time I read this Penny Royal kind of came out of leftfield because I hadn’t been paying any attention to mentions of it in previous Polity books. On my re-read of the Polity, I paid more attention to that and now it is paying dividends.

Asher is not telling disconnected stories all set in his Polity universe. Each series builds on the previous ones but without turning into a Never Ending Series. Each series has a definite beginning and a definite end, as does each book. You have no idea how much I appreciate an author that still writes that way.

I would not recommend starting Asher’s Polity with this book. While you could, I guess, there is just too much in the background that you need to have read in his previous book for this to make sense.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Ghostmaker (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2) ★★★☆½

ghostmaker (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: Ghostmaker
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Imperials are on the world of Mothraxx trying to prevent the forces of Chaos from taking it. On the morning of the final assault Gaunt walks among his troops and talks to various ones. Each time he talks with a trooper we get a story flashback from that soldier about a previous battle. We get 5-10 of these and then move on to the battle.

Mothraxx was home to a Lord of Nature (I don’t know the proper term in WH40K vernacular) and there is a gateway to a Homeworld that Chaos wants to invade. Humanity has been drawn there by the will of the Nature Lord even while thinking they’re doing it for themselves. A huge battle ensues, the Nature Lord gives his life to hold off the Chaos Forces and one of the Psykers, an Inquisitor goes to the Homeworld to close the gate.

Humanity destroys the forces of Chaos and everyone is less sad.

 

My Thoughts:

Having a bunch of short stories to fill in past battles worked really well. Considering how many troopers die, getting some backstory before they die feels more satisfying. At the same time, you don’t get invested enough in somebody that you’re emotionally scarred when they get their head ripped off by some Chaos warrior or their guts torn out and eaten or something like that.

The psyker who gave her life was introduced with just a hint of possible romance for Gaunt, so I knew she had to disappear. Can’t have attachments in this universe! Outside of Gaunt, his cabin boy and some of the ranking officers, anybody is liable to be killed off. I’ve adjusted my thinking for these books so it doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me though, still, is the very nature of this universe. If Chaos is bad, and the Inquisitors hunt down any human with psychic powers, using psychic powers, how does that work? And the Emperor. I’m going to have problems with him just existing, so get used to me complaining about him. He is as Chaos’y as Chaos so why does Humanity worship him? Grrr, I just don’t understand.

As Ground Pounder SF goes though, this is pretty enjoyable. Gaunt’s Ghosts are scouts and fighters so no spaceship to spaceship battles. I’m all for that!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kneel or Die (Kurtherian Gambit #7) ★★☆☆½

kneelordie (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: Kneel or Die
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #7
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

There is one son of Michael left, one final Forsaken, who is defying Bethany Anne. He begins the process of a multi-prong attack based on what he learned from the last attack in the previous book. However, BA and Michael teleport in and Michael simply kills him. Bam, Forsaken are no longer a problem.

BA has been pushing for space worthy vehicles and her crew is really pushing themselves to get this project off the ground. BA needs a moon base to get out of the control of Terrestrial Powers. The team uses the new and improved vehicles on several missions and being able to get from one point on the Earth to another in a matter of minutes makes them even more deadly.

ADAM continues to grow and confronts a group of chinese government hackers. Now some part of the world knows it exists.

At the same time, the Team begins going after some terrorists that had struck in France. They begin hooking one member after another and working their way up the food chain. BA simply disappears each victim into the Etheric. No body, no mess, no evidence. This does lead to a lowly analyst at a small government agency discovering the disappearances and she begins tracking them. She realizes that “somebody” is making raids into foreign countries and killing people. So she sets out to track down this mysterious group of blacker than black operatives.

The clock is now ticking. BA must get her defenses in order: militarily, politically and technologically, as she is about to be discovered by the world at large.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity has reached stupid levels now. It’s not all the time. It’s almost like Anderle has a checklist and there is one scene or two exclusively written so BA or one of her teams can simply swear in the ridiculous manner that Anderle has plotted. It simply is annoying and trying to figure out how I can just skip over it in future books.

I felt like the whole Forsaken problem was wrapped up way too easily. It was like the Forsaken were setup as bowling pins and then between BA and Michael, the author knocks them all down with a spare. It was rather anti-climactic. Hard to believe the Forsaken were such a problem if they were taken care of so easily.

Unfortunately, at the end of the book the author felt the need to include pages and pages and PAGES of reviews of previous books. Even more tactless and stupid was the fact that he RESPONDED to those reviews in the book. I believe most of them came from Amazon, so I’m not sure how he legally did that(Anderle being an indie I suspect he just did whatever he felt like without giving 2 figs for anyone else). Who the feth does he think he is doing something like that? If I found out he’d done something like that with one of my reviews without permission I’d buy a plane ticket to the nearest metro area, gear up and hunt him down for being the sick son of a bitch he is. This was completely inappropriate to be included in a book, without even going into the legal side of things. I knocked off a whole star for this section. Things like this are why I detest indies in general.

Other than those 2 major items, this was fun, just like all the previous books. There are some real kick butt action scenes and the little bit we get to read about TOM and ADAM and their interactions are fun. Anderle also pulls no punches about terrorists and what religious group they mainly come from. Of course, he soft peddles it with some pretty Politically Correct appeasement language but considering how blinded the West is to Islam, that really isn’t surprising, even if just a bit disappointing.

I really liked the whole Analyst figuring stuff out. It wasn’t that she was a super character but the implications are pretty important. Of course, Anderle will probably deal with that in the same way he dealt with the Forsaken. He seems to be much better at setting up cool scenarios than in writing them out with the right balance of tension and “the good guys win”ness.

There are 15 or 18 books in this particular series. I was sure I was going to be able to work my way through them all when I started but after this one, I don’t know. Him including and responding to reviews really undermined the enjoyment I had experienced. It tainted everything.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Terrorist Dispatch (The Executioner #448) ★★★☆☆

terroristdispatch (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: Terrorist Dispatch
Series: The Executioner #448
Author: Don Pendleton alias
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 196
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A terrorist group makes an attack at a memorial in Washington, DC and no one is sure if it was Russian terrorists, Ukrainian terrorists or somebody pretending to be the other. Mack Bolan doesn’t care. With information from the Stony Man intelligence farm, he goes after the local russian and ukrainian mobsters and then heads to the Ukraine to do the same to both their bosses.

Hitting both sides equally, Bolan pits them against each other, thus allowing them to wipe each other. Scratch two bad guys form the list of the world’s badguys.

 

My Thoughts:

I read the original 30 some Executioner books by the real Don Pendleton a couple of years ago. Vigilante Men’s Action/Adventure perfectly sums up these books. Mack Bolan was a driven man, capable, rational and unafraid of blood and violence against those who deserved it. Planning, action and guts were the characteristics of his moves.

This book, written by a ghost writer mentioned in the end credits, is produced by Gold Eagle, a division of Harlequin. What bodice ripping romance books are for women, Mack Bolan books are for men. Sadly, the character of Mack Bolan as depicted originally isn’t the same guy portrayed here. Some of the same “words” are used, but the man portrayed in this book uses the word “whatever” a lot. The Executioner doesn’t use the word “whatever”, that implies a lack of caring about planning and intel gathering. Considering he uses it at least three times in this book, it makes Mack Bolan feel very caricature’ish here.

I am glad that I read this but it has put to rest my curiosity about how the franchise has proceeded. Simply put, it has been simplified even more, to the point that I don’t want to read more. Not recommended unless you need a serious brain break for a day or two.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Wrecking Crew (Matt Helm #2) ★☆☆☆½

wreckingcrew (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 Wrecking Crew
Series: Matt Helm #2
Author: Donald Hamilton
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Matt Helm is back working as part of the Wrecking Crew, that shadowy blacker than black government organization that carries out assassinations against targets around the world who are enemies of the United States.

Helm’s wife served him separation papers after finding out about his secret past during World War II and with nothing else to occupy him, Matt returns to the only thing he really knows. This time he is sent after a shadowing agent working for Russia that took out a valuable double agent for the United States. Hooking up with the dead man’s wife, Helm uses her to find his way to the Mastermind. With lots of twists and turns (who is working for who, are the good guys actually the good guys?), Helm bulls through it all in Norway. Using women like sanitizer soap, Helm eventually gets his man.

The book ends with his wife sending him signed divorce papers and a note that she and the boys are now with another man, a “good” man.

 

My Thoughts:

I liked the story. The twisty turny Cold War aspect was great. It was fun, it was thrilling and it kept the suspense up right until the end when Matt shoots the Mastermind.

Sadly, that just wasn’t enough. Helm’s sleeping with multiple women while still married is not something that I want to give countenance too. Someone as controlled as Helm CAN control himself in the area of sex. He simply chooses not to and I consider that a fatal flaw in a book character.

Throw in that he’s pretty “Awww, whatever” about his wife leaving him and the fate of his 3 children and he just sickened me. When he found out they were all with another man they liked, he was like “Oh good, now I don’t have to worry”.

Very disappointed with how this turned out. Matt Helm is no hero and characters like him, with an empty moral framework, do more to destroy this country than any hardline communist ever could. So I’m done with this series and will be moving on.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)