The Technician (Polity #12) ★★★★☆

technician (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 Technician
Series: Polity #12
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 512
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

We the readers are returned to the world of Masada, introduced in the Agent Cormac books. Now that the Polity has “been invited in”, things are changing. One of the few surviving Proctors from the old regime was attacked by a hooder but not killed. This Hooder, known as the Technician, left something in the proctors head and the Polity wants to know what. The proctor goes on a crazy trip for about 20 years where he just sits as an invalid on a prison island until an AI decides that it has had enough. Things are orchestrated to start a chain of events to give the proctor back his memories and for the Polity to find out what was in his head.

The gabbleducks, the native life of Masada, are shown to be the devolved descendants of the space faring race the Atheter that went extinct millions of years ago. They commited race extinction after being exposed to Jain tech and left behind a machine whose sole job was to prevent them from ever regaining sapience again.

Now that the Polity has an Atheter AI, the gabbleducks and some unknown something inside the proctors head, all on the same planet, this machine awakens. There is a climactic showdown between it and the Technician and some top of the line Polity vessels. The proctor transfers his memories (or, the last living Atheter’s) memories to a gabbleduck and the AI wakes up. The Atheter appear to be on the rise.

We are also introduced to Penny Royal, a black AI. It was split into 8 parts and the 8th was excised, as it contained the psychotic bits. However, the AI Amistad kept that 8th part for study and during all of this Penny Royal gets its hands on the 8th part. It apparently destroys it.

 

My Thoughts:

I somehow messed up and read this before reading The Gabble and Other Stories, which introduces how the Polity found the Atheter AI and does a bit of setup for this book. However, Asher does enough fill in for the reader that it isn’t strictly necessary to have read that book first. It just would have been nicer.

Ok, first. Asher is in fine form with his bashing of religion and returning to the world of Masada allows him free reign to setup strawmen that he not only knocks down, but pretty much uses a flamethrower on. I’ve stated it before, but Asher’s god is Scyenze and he’s as vitriolic and mocking as any old high priest you could think of. That was pretty much why this stayed at a 4star rating like the last time I read it. If it wasn’t for that, this would have been approaching 5star easily.

This was AWESOME. Splatterpunk space opera at its finest. The proctor gets his face eaten off by the Technician and then gets a prosthetic from the Polity medical team later. On his journey he CUTS HIS OWN FACE OFF AGAIN because he hates the Polity so much. I’m sorry, but how can you not love that?!?

The introduction of Penny Royal was good on this re-read. It is a side character and so when I read this the first time it didn’t even register when Asher ended up writing a whole trilogy about it. Now that I’ve read that trilogy, seeing its introduction is pretty cool.

The human side was done just as well. The proctor, with his mix of literary attendants both for and against, makes for a great survival story. Between the planet and the wildlife and the Tidy Squad (a group that hunts down the former regime) and then the Polity forces, you get a full range of interaction.

Asher does good work on single novels. I won’t call this a standalone because knowledge of the Polity and Masada is pretty vital to really understand it but I think someone “could” read this and figure out what they needed. I’m pretty pleased with this read through.

★★★★☆

 

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Chasm City (Revelation Space #2) ★★★★½

chasmcity (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: Chasm City
Series: Revelation Space #2
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 708
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis: Spoilers

Tanner Mirabel wakes up with his memories scrambled. All he really knows is that he has to track down and kill one Argent Reivich, the man who killed his boss and boss’s wife. Tanner is now on Chasm City, light years from Sky’s Edge and he is without allies, without money and without much information. Thankfully, his memory is slowly coming back.

Tanner gets involved in problems on Chasm City when he’s kidnapped and used for a Hunt. The rich immortals living on Chasm City are bored and the Hunt is one way they alleviate such boredom. Between some unexpected allies and his own military background, Tanner turns the tables and suddenly has some allies, some money and some serious firepower. Unfortunately, while his memory is returning, other memories are also returning, the memories of Sky Haussman, the founder of Sky’s Edge. Which is impossible as Sky was crucified and killed a LONG time ago. Maybe Tanner is just going insane.

Tanner tracks Reivich down to an asteroid where Reivich is undergoing a Deep Scan, one where he will destroy his body but upload his mind. During all of this more and more memories are returning and Tanner finds out that the real Tanner is hunting HIM. Tanner is Kahuella, a war criminal from Sky’s Edge. There is a showdown between the two Tanners and “our” Tanner wins when he releases an unknown ability, the ability to bite with envenomed fangs and kills the original Tanner. ALL of “our” Tanner’s memories come crashing back and he realizes he is Sky Haussman and that the dreams of Haussman he’s been having aren’t from a bio-plague but true memories.

Tanner chooses to remain as Tanner and start a security company on Chasm City and give the Hunt the set of rules we are familiar with from the previous book.

 

My Thoughts:

In-freaking-credible! I enjoyed this read so much that I’m not really sure what to focus on. The only downside I guess.

I didn’t give this 5stars because I’m not sure how this will hold up to a re-read. 75% of the tension was not knowing what was going on with Tanner and his memories and now that I know, I don’t know how that will affect future re-reads. And that is it.

This had everything I wanted in a good Science Fiction story. Aliens, sentient and otherwise, weapons of mass destruction and little weapons, a grand amount of fighting and death and carnage that really racks up the body count. It was very similar to a Polity novel but Alastair’s style is so different from Neal Asher that there is NO mistaking the difference or feeling that you’re retreading territory.

The Sky Haussman episodes felt very much like history lessons but there was enough intrigue going on that it didn’t come across as boring info dumps. I have to admit though, most of the time info dumps don’t bother me, except when they do. I still haven’t figured out what the difference is though.

Alastair handles the time differentials skillfully. This book pretty much takes place at the same time as Revelation Space and so we get ties to make that book slightly fuller and here we find out information to make a re-read of RS richer.

Tanner makes for a great character. He’s driven, has a great skill set, has a conscience and still isn’t above killing people who are gunning for him. Following him as he remembers things was great fun. The whole memory thing was wicked weird, as the very idea was unsettling. If the mind can be so easily mucked around with, nothing is then sacred. But then, most materialists believe that the mind is just a series of synapses and electrical responses that can be transposed onto another medium “once we know enough”.

Apparently this was a novella first before it was expanded to this full length novel. So check the length of the one you’re reading if you’re not sure. I read the full novel and am not sure I’d want to try this as a novella.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Saints (Monster Hunter Memoirs #3) ★★★★☆

saints (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: Saints
Series: Monster Hunter Memoirs #3
Author: John Ringo, Larry Correia
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Chad blows up at MCB after the experience in New Orleans. This puts him on their Super Shit List and one of the agents starts making things personal. A bad scrying shows Chad is involved with a black magic group kidnapping virgins to raise an Old One. Turns out it is Chad’s brother but that makes Chad involved anyway. Chad takes down his brother and stops the ring. That’s enough proof for the agent AND Agent Franks. Franks beats Chad almost to death and hospitalizes him. Chad then sues MCB and while things are in full swing heads over to England to do some research at the Van Helsing Institute.

There he investigates why some of the occurrences are happening in New Orleans. Turns out, his brother has slightly awakened an Old One’s cocoon. The Agent in charge of MCB in New Orleans has taken MCB being sued by Chad extremely personal so he does nothing when even Earl Harbinger tells him there is a baby Old One about to wake up and eat the world. That means its up to MHI to toe the line again and stand between the Earth and total destruction. MHI wins. Was there any ever doubt? Of course, they get a little help from the Fey and a High Hunt.

The books ends with Earl taking over and describing the events at the Christmas Party where Ray Shackleford IV almost destroys MHI. Turns out it is Earl and Chad who close the Portal to the Old One and Chad gives his life to allow Earl to do so.

My Thoughts:

This was a great wrapup to the trilogy. A nascent Old One growing under New Orleans? Man, how much more of a threat can you get than that? Everything leads up to that though, so the story goes from threat to threat to threat.

Everything isn’t directly connected, so things feel a little discombobulated sometimes. The whole thing with his brother ends so quickly that there was no tension and besides it leading into Chad getting the snot beat out of him, was rather anti-climactic.

Chad’s time in England was boring. It didn’t help that the story about the ghost and the super special metal was included in the Monster Hunter Files anthology so I kind of felt cheated. Him teaching was just as boring.

The final battle was EVERYTHING I want out of a Monster Hunter International fight. Guns, bombs, flamethrowers, Holy Water, and so many monsters. So many, many monsters. Ringo and Correia did a fantastic job of making this a pulse pounding fight!

The ending, with Chad’s sacrifice, was how this trilogy needed to end. Chad’s story had a beginning and this was his end. For all his philandering, dickheaded braggodocio and general arrogance, Chad goes out like a hero.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read in the MHI universe, even if a little bit off from Correia’s style.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Dust of Dreams (Malazan Book of the Fallen #9) ★☆☆☆½

dustofdreams (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: Dust of Dreams
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen #9
Author: Steven Erikson
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 950
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The White Faced Bargast, now returned to their ancestral lands, are hemmed in by the lands current sets of clans and misused.The Bargast are now led by Onos Toolan, a resurrected T’lan Imass. He is trying to change their ways but in the face of a hostile land, the Bargast reject Toolan’s leadership, kill him, hobble his wife and drive off his children. Toolan comes back as a T’lan (hence the Dust of Dreams). The Bargast face their enemies but everyone is destroyed when “something” simply freezes them all into little pieces. Toolan hunts down the survivors and kills them all to fulfill his vengeance against the Bargast. In doing so, he ignores a summons by Adjunct Tavore and the Bonehunters.

The Bonehunters are leaving Lether to head through the Wastes into a kingdom where a piece of the Fallen god is. The Adjunct’s plan is to destroy said piece. They are supposed to meet up with the Bargast (that obviously doesn’t happen) and the Grey Helms, a mercenary branch. The Bonehunters are accompanied by Brys Beddict and his elite guards from Letheri.

A Skykeep of K’chain Che’Malle origin, with the help of a lone surviving human, must find a Shield Anvil and a Mortal Sword if this set of K’Chain want to survive. They get Stormy and Gessler. They meet up with the Bonehunters.

Icarium is now a ghost and haunting a group of people who have found an abandoned Sky Keep. They begin to awaken the Keep, which was created just to destroy the short-tailed K’Chain, the Narruk.

The Narruk, who have a dozen skykeeps from another realm, invade the world of Malaz and end up in the Wastes. It is up to the Bonehunters and everyone else in the area to destroy them. But without the help of the T’lan Imass, the outcome is in doubt.

There is a huge devastating battle at the end and whole armies are destroyed. We don’t know who survives.

 

My Thoughts:

Before I started writing this review, I went and read my original one from 2010, just to see if my perspective on this book had changed. A lot of the time the years give me a new viewpoint and something I used to like I no longer do or something I hated I now enjoy. Unfortunately, the review from 2010 is pretty much exactly the same as what I’ll be writing here.

With this book Erikson has cemented in my mind that he is a real bag of crap. Out of 950 pages, the plot is only forwarded by maybe 200 of those pages. The rest is devoted Erikson spewing out depressing cant and nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. When somebody does do something good and heroic, Erikson makes sure to piss on it by having other characters destroy the moment with their own regrets and melancholy and depression. Any possible good thing Erikson squats over and craps on with a diarrhea quality.

This is a junk book and once again, while the series starts out so awesomely with Gardens of the Moon, it has descended into a morass of soapbox preaching and what’s worse, extremely BORING soapbox preaching. I no longer recommend this series because of the last 3 books.

This is the level of bloviated writing that destroyed the sales of his Karkanas trilogy (which is stuck at book 2 and looks like it will never get finished). Thankfully, Ian Esslemont seems to be doing a good job of actually writing a real trilogy with a real plot and keeping the world of Malaz alive. I do plan on reading the last book in this series but after that, I’ll just stick to Gardens of the Moon if I ever feel the need to dip my toes into the world of Malaz. It just isn’t fun sticking my head under this faucet of filth.

★☆☆☆½

 

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Hilldiggers (Polity #10) ★★★★☆

hilldiggers (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: Hilldiggers
Series: Polity #10
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 564
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Back before the AI’s took over the Polity in the Quiet War, a group of humans had left to follow their own dreams. Unfortunately, there was a violent split in the group and one group went to one world and the other group to the other world. Both performed lots and lots of gene-splicing and mucking about to stay alive on their respective planets. Once their civilizations reached a certain point they became aware of the other planet and war ensued. The war ended when one side used gravity weapons, the eponymous Hilldiggers, to totally wipe out the underground cities of the other.

The winning side had gotten a hold of an “Object” and learned a lot from it. They held this Object in various cylanders on a space station. A woman conceives at the moment that the object tries to get loose and 9 months later gives birth to quadruplets. These quads are the brightest humans on the planet and seem driven to succeed at whatever task they want.

The Polity has been monitoring this system for quite some time and is now sending in a Consul to see if the system would like to join the Polity. They send in an Old Captain, a man of Spatterjay who is more virus than man. But this man has a countervirus working in him as an experiment.

When one of the Quads leads a military coup, the Consul must navigate between 2 worlds, the Polity and the mysterious Object, which seems to have its own agenda.

In the end, the coup, which was instigated by the Object, fails but ends up freeing the Object, which continues its travels and recon. The 2 worlds make peace once it is realized the victorious world started the war for profit and both worlds decide to slowly look into entering the Polity.

 

My Thoughts:

Even though I read this back in 2011, I didn’t remember anything besides the Object so this was like reading it ♪for the very♪ first♪ time♪. I have to say, I enjoyed this a lot and reading my review, I enjoyed it a lot more than last time.

I know last time I was convinced that the Object was the Dragon that we are introduced to in the Agent Cormac series. This time around, I’m not really sure and actually rather doubt it. It just didn’t fit the description. It would be nice to know for sure one way or the other though.

There was a lot of fighting in this book and having an Old Captain, with a twist, made for a good character to represent the Polity. We also get viewpoints from each of the quadruplets and a Polity Drone. While Asher seems quite able to handle so many viewpoints and to tell one cohesive whole of a story through them, trying to summarize it all is a real pain in the butt.

I am trying to think WHY I enjoyed this so much more than last time. Part of it is that I’ve read enough of his newer books to realize that he’s not going to be writing a Spatterjay trilogy ever again and so I don’t expect his books to be that. I think that it didn’t help that I simply gorged on these back in ’11. I read 5 of his books within a month and that can really detract.

I was able to sit back, take in the various viewpoints and just let the story roll on. I have found that I’ve been doing that a lot more recently and it helps me to enjoy the book.Instead of trying to guess or predict, I just let the author guide me along. I don’t try to fight the current of the book. I am The Tai-Chi Master of Book Reading, hahahahaa!

Another greatly enjoyable book by Asher in the Polity universe.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Heldenhammer (Warhammer: Legend of Sigmar #1) ★★★☆☆

heldenhammer (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: Heldenhammer
Series: Warhammer: Legend of Sigmar #1
Author: Graham McNeill
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 341
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sigmar, son of a local king, has a dream. A dream of uniting all the various tribes as a single united human empire to withstand all the creatures of chaos. This is his story of how he unites the warring tribes whether with force, guile or brave deeds.

He loses his bloodbrother in a fight against orcs and the twin brother, Gerreon, holds it against Sigmar for years. Sigmar is betrothed to Gerreon’s sister Ravenna but Gerreon ends up killing her as well when he attempts to kill Sigmar. Gerreon flees and is seen no more.

Sigmar is turned back from the doors of death by his father and told he has a destiny to prevent the end of humanity. Once king, Sigmar begins uniting the tribes and providing mutual protection against the various orc raiders and wild animals, etc. A few human clans resist and are wiped out. Then an Orc Warlord arises and unites the orcs and goblins into one massive army and descends onto the human occupied lands to wipe them out. Sigmar and all the kings, along with some of the dwarves, face off against this monstrous horde. Sigmar kills the orc Warlord and breaks the horde and all the kings bow to him as Emperor.

The book ends with the remnants of the tribes destroyed by Sigmar taking Gerreon in and plotting vengeance.

 

My Thoughts:

This didn’t do much for me. The big things, the action and adventure, those are gone into. But the little things, like why does Sigmar have a comet with two tails as his emblem, is completely ignored. Obviously McNeill has a lot to pack into 3 books and can only make room for a certain amount but why did a boy getting cut with a sword on a training field take precedent over the freaking symbol of Sigmar himself?

If you’ve ever read Dicken’s A Childes History of England, you’ll get that same vibe here. “This” happened and then “that” happened and then Sigmar did “Exploit” and then everybody made him Emperor.

Part of why I’m so pissy about this is that I went into this with the attitude that this trilogy had to really impress me for me to keep reading in the Warhammer universe even while I KNEW it couldn’t and wouldn’t. So I’m feeling hypocritical. Bleh. At the same time, I DO want to know how Sigmar became a god and I’m hoping why he didn’t stick around and save the bloody world is answered. Just in case you didn’t know, the world that Warhammer takes place in was destroyed by the forces of chaos when the creators of Warhammer ended the Warhammer game.

This was very much the quintessential media tie in that I’ve come to expect from most franchises. In other words, if you’re invested in the game, media, whatever, you’ll like the books simply because it tells more. If you’re not invested in Franchise X, it probably won’t do much for you.

I did give this the Ultra-Violence tag because the hammer of Sigmar really does some damage and McNeill doesn’t shy away from describing it. Lots of brain matter enters into the equation, yuck.

★★★☆☆

 

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Prador Moon (Polity #9) ★★★★☆

pradormoon (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: Prador Moon
Series: Polity #9
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 353
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Chronicling the beginning of the war between the Polity and the Prador Second Kingdom. We see how the Prador exotic metal ships are so incredibly tough and how the war factories of the Polity came into being.

A renegade scientist, on the run from the Polity for experimenting with humans and augs, manages to sneak past the Polity’s oversight and installs a bunch of new augs on several people. One of them is a Separatist and one of them is a scientist working on the Runcible project. The separatist uses his to coordinate an attack on a Polity world to destroy the AI and to open it up to the Prador. The scientist is using her expanded sensory apparatus, under the watchful eye of an AI, to begin using the Runcible system for ships in space and not just planet bound travellers.

We also follow Jebel “Ucap” (Up close and personal) Krong, one of the few survivors of the initial contact with the Prador. They killed his woman, so now he leads the survivors of the world of Avalon in fighting the Prador on the ground. By planting mines on their shells. It doesn’t get much more Up Close And Personal than that!

One of the Prador has been tasked with capturing the Space Runcible and we get a real look at the Prador and their culture. Everything comes together when the Prador tries to capture the runcible and the scientist uses it to send a small moon through to destroy the Prador ship.

 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoy the stories about the Prador, mainly because Asher can go full bore violent without offending my sensibilities. I mean, how can I be turned off when he’s writing about giant crabs eating each other and experimenting on humans and whatnot? They’re the perfect villains.

When I read this back in ’11 I noted that it was only 173 pages. This time around the page count was listed as 353. The only difference immediately noticeable was the 173page version was from TOR back in ’08 and this version was from Nightshade Books in ’13. But even then, there are various publications from both companies with wildly varying counts. Whatever, I do wish it had been longer, as it really worked for me.

The thing that kept this from getting bumped up a half star (most times when I re-read something and enjoy it just as much as last time I bump it up) was the lack of a single focused main character. The focus was split between the Separatist, the Scientist, Jebel Krong and the Prador Captain. It was fine, as their stories all were converging stories but I have to admit, I do really prefer a single character that ties it all together.

I’m listing this as Number 9 in the Polity universe just because I feel anyone reading Asher’s Polity books would be best served to have read the Agent Cormac quintet and the Spatterjay trilogy. I believe this is Number 1 chronologically but a lot of what you’ll read here won’t be explained here and is explained in the aforementioned series.

If worlds getting nuked and tech and awesome fighting and giant sentient man-eating space faring crabs are your thing, this book gives it in spades.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)