People of the Sun by Jason Parent

People of the SunPeople of the Sun

by Jason Parent

Kindle Edition, 327 pg.
Sinister Grin Press, 2017

Read: March 13 – 15, 2017


This was a refreshing SF adventure with plenty of heart and imagination.

A handful of brave astronauts take off from the dying planet Symoria with a mission to find something to save their planet– but something goes wrong during the launch, damaging the ship and severely injuring some of the crew. The ship crashes on a nearby planet — Earth, naturally — and things go downhill from there.

Yeah, a disastrous (and possibly fatal) launch is the best thing that happens to the Symorians. Doesn’t really say a whole lot about this planet, or at least its inhabitants, does it?

Anyway, they land in New Hampshire to be found by a State Trooper and his friend, a geology professor. Factors in the environment shock the Symorians by helping them to adapt to Earth and human culture in surprising ways. The professor, Connor Gaudreau (the professor) becomes an ambassador of sorts for them.

To say that their first meeting with the U. S. Military goes poorly is an understatement — the soldiers believe that the Symorians are nerds in cosplay uniforms and makeup. When they won’t take off “the Spock ears,” one solider in particular gets aggressive — striking the non aggressive Symorian commander, Lenyx, repeatedly. While trying to defend himself, Lenyx accidentally kills this soldier, making things worse.

Thankfully, there’s a sitting President who’s looking to establish her legacy by making a treaty with a new race. What follows is full of betrayal hope, loyalty and avarice. Plus a healthy dose of hope.

The imagination behind this novel is impressive. Parent shows a lot of creativity in establishing why the aliens might use English expressions and human attitudes. The writing is solid — nothing dazzling, but solid. The characters are well-written, and the plot works well. Yeah, at a certain point, the ending is inevitable and few readers will be surprised at the last 1/3 (or so). But that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means that Parent follows his story through to its logical conclusion — he doesn’t go for some shock twist that has no foundation. He starts at A, then goes to B, C and D on his way to E — without succumbing to the temptation to go for a detour through Q and R.

An entertaining, quick read with plenty of characters that make you want to read on. Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for this post — thanks!

—–

3 Stars

Wrath of an Angry God by Gibson Michaels – DNF

Wrath of an Angry GodWrath of an Angry God

by Gibson Michaels
Series: The Sentience Trilogy, #3<

Kindle Edition, 340 pg.
Arc Flash Publishing, 2015
Read: March 4 – 5, 2017


I’m posting this because: 1. I didn’t want to look like I was abandoning this series on a whim. 2. If I’m going to say that I’m going to finish books that authors give me, I’d better have a reason for not sticking with that.

I’m not posting this because I want to trash Mr. Michaels or his work. I am curious about what happens at the end of this series — I’ve read about 978 pages of it, and on the whole, have enjoyed it.

So why am I not finishing this? Because frankly, I don’t care what the justification you give (and I can think of several), raping your wife for her own good (at best) or to get her to conform to cultural norms (at worse) is just not something I’m going to read.

Eating Robots by Stephen Oram

this is going to be short, because I found myself saying the same thing over and over

Eating RobotsEating Robots and Other Stories

by Stephen Oram

eARC, 107 pg.
SilverWood Books, 2017

Read: April 27 – 29, 2017


I flipped through my thesaurus to find some decent synonyms for imaginative, because I need a few to talk about this collection. Didn’t find any that I liked, alas — this collection needs me to say something more than imaginative, just to avoid being dull and repetitive.

These stories are short — it’s not fair to call most of these stories, they’re more like scenes. Hints of a story, character studies, maybe hints of a scene — and on the one hand you can see most to of these happening in other parts of the same world — but they don’t have to, there could be a 30 different future realities represented here.

These are almost entirely too short. Some of the character moments are great — but even they don’t satisfy. The longer stories (there are not that many of them) barely seemed long enough to be a decent story — and they were good. There is a strong Twilight Zone feel to almost every plot and circumstance in the book — updated, like Rod Serling for the 21st Century.

I can not say it enough — Oram can write. He’s got a great imagination, and a mind for Science Fiction. But between the length and his approach, I just couldn’t get into any of the stories, I couldn’t care about anyone or anything in this book. I respect these stories, but I didn’t like any of them. I can easily see me being alone in that, though, if someone came along and told me that this was one of the best collections they read this year, I’d understand. I wouldn’t agree, but I could see where they were coming from. I hope Oram finds his audience (or that they find him), sadly, I’m not part of it.

I received a copy of this book from b00k r3vi3w Tours in return for this post. Thanks!

—–

3 Stars

Eating Robots by Stephen Oram Book Tour

Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Eating Robots. Along with this blurb about the book, my take on it will be along in an hour or so (the link’ll work when the post goes live).

Book Details:

Book Title:  Eating Robots and Other Stories
Author: Stephen Oram
Category: Science Fiction, 107 pages
Publisher: SilverWood Books
Release date: May 31, 2017

Book Description:

The future is bright…or is it?

Step into a high-tech vision of the future with the author of Quantum Confessions and Fluence, Stephen Oram.

Featuring health-monitoring mirrors, tele-empathic romances and limb-repossessing bailiffs, Eating Robots explores the collision of utopian dreams and twisted realities in a world where humanity and technology are becoming ever more intertwined.

Sometimes funny, often unsettling, and always with a word of warning, these thirty sci-fi shorts will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

 

Buy the Book

Goodreads  Amazon India  Amazon US

Meet the Author:

Stephen Oram writes thought provoking stories that mix science fiction with social comment, mainly in a recognisable near-future. He is the Author in Residence at Virtual Futures’, Stephen Oramonce described as the ‘Glastonbury of cyberculture’. He has collaborated with scientists and future-tech people to write short stories that create debate about potential futures, most recently with the Human Brain Project and Bristol Robotics Laboratory as part of the Bristol Literature Festival.

As a teenager he was heavily influenced by the ethos of punk. In his early twenties he embraced the squatter scene and was part of a religious cult, briefly. He did some computer stuff in what became London’s silicon roundabout and is now a civil servant with a gentle attraction to anarchism.

He has two published novels – Quantum Confessions and Fluence – and several shorter pieces.

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Traveller – Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

Traveller – InceptioTraveller – Inceptio

by Rob Shackleford

Kindle Edition, 822
BookBaby, 2017

Read: April 19 – 22, 2017


There’s part of me that wants to go off on this novel describing all the problems I had with it — the uninspired writing, the bland characters, the unnecessary plotlines, the preposterous nature of so much of the story — after all, I did spend days stuck in this mire. But I just don’t care enough — and it’d just be mean.

So let me keep this brief, something Shackleford could try. There are few sentences that couldn’t be at least 1/3 shorter — the novel as a whole could be 1/3 shorter and would be much more effective. On any number of episodes of The Once and Future Podcast host Anton Strout has talked about young writers over-sharing their world building — this is a perfect example of it. I can’t tell you how many pages are devoted to the accidental invention of this time machine — how much drama surrounds it, how questionably the term “research” is tossed around, etc. — and beyond the fact that a time machine that can only transfer people 1000 years to the past and back is accidentally created, we don’t need any of it. Nothing else in the first part of the book (I’m guessing 200+ pages) devoted to that matters. At all.

The worldbuilding is the best part of the book, and it’s overdone. That’s all I’m going to bother with on this one — it’s just not worth it. This was clearly a labor of love, but sadly, not an affection that I can share at all.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for this post.

—–

1 1/2 Stars

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing EmpireThe Collapsing Empire

by John Scalzi
Series: The Collapsing Empire, #1

Hardcover, 329 pg.
Tor Books, 2017

Read: March 28 – 29, 2017

I can’t think of a SF release more highly anticipated this year than The Collapsing Empire, the first in a new series (there’s a really good chance that I’ll be saying the same thing in 3 months about something else that I’m spacing at the moment). Thankfully, it surpassed my expectations (which were, admittedly, pretty low — this just didn’t sound that interesting) — I can’t speak for the rest of his fanbase who were anticipating it so highly, but I can’t imagine that most weren’t wholly satisfied, and predict he picks up a few fans from this.

The Interdependency is the empire that is made up of the descendants of the people of Earth, it’s been in place for centuries — and, as the title of the book (and series) states, it’s on the verge of collapse. Not from political pressures or outside threats, or anything of that nature. Instead, it’s the Flow. The Flow is the way that humanity travels between the stars — a extra-dimensional field that can be accessed to facilitate travel between planets. And it’s on the verge of changing — not disappearing, just connecting different planets and leaving millions of people without access to the rest of the Empire.

Tricky to explain briefly — but that’s okay, the characters in the book are (with 3 exceptions) learning this about the same time as the reader is and those who explain it do a much better job. Basically, the Empire as they know it is facing the End. There to help the Interdependency through this trying time (not that citizens know about it) is a brand-new, untried Emperox. She and her allies (intentional or otherwise) are going to have to deal with political, business and religious groups to try to help some of humanity survive.

I’ve gotta say that Emperox Grayland II (Cardenia to her friends) is a delightful character — you cannot help but root for her. She’s brave, smart, relatable and an underdog (how someone who rules several planetary systems can be thought of as an underdog is a neat trick). The scientist who travels the length of the Empire to help her understand what’s going on, Marce, is clever, overwhelmed, and the only one who really knows what’s happening (shades of Jor-El?). There’s another character, Lady Kiva, a junior member of a ruling family of one of the largest guilds who is just too much fun — she swears enough to make Marshall Mathers take a step back; has no tact, no diplomacy, and shows no mercy to her enemies (especially if they stand between her and a profit). Really, she’s a horrible person (at least in this book),but a fun, fun character.

These three are our focus, they’re who we cheer for and pin our hopes on. If they can survive the political, scientific, religious, and humanitarian turmoil that’s beginning to bubble — there’s a shot for humanity. Not much of one, honestly, but a shot.

Somehow, Scalzi’s able to take societal collapse and tell it in an entertaining, suspenseful and frequently funny way. He’s able to give a thinly disguised commentary on environmental catastrophe and keep it from getting preachy. Basically, he threads the needle just right to keep people enjoying themselves as they read what would be a heavy, off-putting book in many author’s hands.

Is it perfect? No. Am I crazy about everything he does/tries to do in this book? Nope. But man, such a fun, quick ride that I can’t help but like it and recommend it to everyone I can think of. I was so wrong not to be interested in this book — I’m more than interested in the sequel.

—–

4 Stars

2017 Library Love Challenge

Defying the Prophet by Gibson Michaels

Defying the ProphetDefying the Prophet

by Gibson Michaels
Series: The Sentience Trilogy, #2

Kindle Edition, 370 pg.
Arc Flash Publishing, 2014

Read: February 23 – 27, 2017


The second installment of a trilogy has the hardest role — the first introduces us to the world, the characters, the conflict — basically sets the stage for everything in the series. The third has to tie up everything and give a satisfying conclusion. The second has to build on the first and make the audience want to read the end. There needs to be a clear arc to the book (or what’s the point), yet the conclusion has to make us thirst for more. It’s also bound to be the most overlooked entry in the trilogy (The Empire Strikes Back being one of the exceptions that proves the rule). As such, Defying the Prophet fulfilled most of the duties of the second installment, and was entertaining enough — but man, I just wanted more from it.

I also usually find it difficult to talk about the second installments more than the other two, so here are some general observations as I put off any real analysis off until I finish the series.

I was surprised — and pleased — at how quickly Michaels wrapped up the Civil War story in this book — I really expected it to go on much longer. I’m not entirely certain I liked the mechanism by which he did it — but I can’t say I disliked it, but it almost seemed a bit too easy. Oh well, he uses the state of military readiness of the various human governments to be able to respond to the looming alien invasion in an effective manner.

The battles between the human factions were good. The battles between Raknii and humans was great. Seriously great — particularly the first one. I’m not sure Michaels could’ve sustained things there longer without sacrificing quality, but I wish he did. Thankfully, there’s more to come on this front, and I can’t wait to see how things go there.

I didn’t find the plots involving the internal developments and movements with Raknii as compelling this time around — and they were my favorite parts of the first book. We also didn’t get as much of them this time. Still, I appreciate what he’s doing with the Raknii overall and would willingly read more about them beyond this series.

Meanwhile, at least a few people in the USA have started to figure out just how the AI that runs things for them undermined them in the lead-up to the Civil War — and during it. They still don’t seem to have a great idea what they’re going to do with that knowledge however . . .

My biggest problem with this book is that at a certain point it was like Michaels realized — “you know what I haven’t included in this series? Romance. I’d better fix that.” — and then, bang-zoom, we’ve got two love stories going. One page it’s all political/economic/military intrigue and action and the next it’s political/economic/military intrigue and action plus hearts, flowers, and anatomy. Which was awkward enough, but then those love stories just weren’t that well-executed. He reminded me of Aaron Sorkin’s attempts at romantic comedy in Sports Night, The West Wing, and The Newsroom — I loved almost every other thing Sorkin did in those shows, but man . . . romance just isn’t his thing (I’m not even going to mention Studio 60, because that was just bad all around) . Michaels tried — and I appreciate the effort, and could enjoy what he was going for, they were sweet, but I just don’t think he nailed the telling (and, yes, Mr. Michaels, if you read this, feel free to summarize this as “He favorably compared me to an Oscar Winning writer”).

So we’ve got an interstellar conflict to wrap-up; at least one species’ culture is going to be changed by this conflict; some internal shake-ups to go along with that among the Raknii; at least one human government responding to the sentient AI; the sentient AI up to something new; and a couple of other dangling plotlines — and 340 pages to do it all in. Wrath of an Angry God is going to be a busy, busy conclusion — should be a fun ride. This? This was good, but it’s clearly the middle volume and really the poof’s going to be in whether Michaels can stick the landing. My guess is that he can, but we’ll have to see.

Disclaimer: I received this novel from the author in exchange for this post — thanks Mr. Michaels.

—–

3 Stars