29 October, 2010
27 October, 2010
Count me in as a fan of the US cover art for The Quantum Thief [UK] by Hannu Rajaniemi. This picture blazes right out at you.
Not to say that the UK art is bad. Also works for me, it's just completely different as seen here:
NethSpace put together a bunch of links for Towers of Midnight [US] [UK]. I mean, there's a ton of stuff in one nice little place.
Temple Library Reviews talks Guilty Pleasure reads. Don't worry, Twilight made it. :)
IO9 gives us a "Chart that groups science fiction fans by political affiliation". Not too surprising, but interesting nonetheless.
The 50 most hated literary characters can be found here, and yet again Twilight made the list.
The more I hear/see about this the more I can't wait for Sunday's premiere. Check out the Trailer for The Walking Dead on AMC:
And that's the news...at least to me.
21 October, 2010
From the back of the book:
Germany Germany, a man who was free, a man who loved, now an instrument in their machine. They have turned him into the very thing he hates, what he and everyone he loved fought against, the world's greatest celebrity, a tool in the subjugation of man.
But the memories of freedom and lvoe remain, and he will fight and change the course of human history for the better, but at what end?
As humanity progresses and turns to face the eternal black of the universe, the questions of free will and fate, of love and peace, of the riddles of time itself will arise, and Germany will be called upon. But is his will strong enough, is his mind ready to breach toe void and provide us with salvation?
Germany Germany, though, along with his family, friends, and people have secluded themselves from The Benefit, being taught diatribes on the evils that it represents. They live on the Island - away and apart from Celebrity, but not for long.
This is not too far off our own world and you can probably see why this started to click for me. I couldn't count let alone list the amount of magazines devoted to pop culture, it blows my mind how addicted to television and celebrity for that matter we as a society have become.
Sadly, the execution of these ideas involved every other character droning on and on about society and and the character of man. They began to blend together into one character.
While I appreciated the ideas, the effect started to diminish as pages and pages were filled with soliloquy, even at one point when there was supposedly a conversation going on, it became a monologue.
Then, towards the end of the book, to add to my already lowering opinion, Concrete Operational suddenly became extremely explicit. I've read Abercrombie, Lynch, George RR Martin, and Steven Erikson. I can take gritty to a point, but this just took it too far and when that happens, I have to comment.
Now, I don't usually comment on editing errors. I've read enough ARC's to be able to ignore quite a bit. But, the problem in Concrete Operational is that this is not an ARC and the errors were not only numerous, but extremely irritating. Every page has at least a few extra/too few words and grammar mistakes. Argh.
For example, instead of a building being "razed to the ground" it was "raised to the ground". It's kind of funny that the antonym is so close. Instead of something going "through" something else, it went "threw" it. These are just a few examples of what is way too common throughout Concrete Operational.
When Should You Read Concrete Operational?
So much was promised in Concrete Operational, but the delivery ended up being a taxing experience. I stopped enjoying it at least midway through and I'm sad to say that I can't recommend this book. It had the potential for greatness, but with the poor editing and constant rambling, it failed overall.
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Actually much more explicit than the book itself (my wife even ripped out some of the pages), I can't say that I enjoyed it. Not that the entire artbook is explicit, there are some things that are well done. So, take this as you want from someone who has as little art experience as I have.
1 out of 5 Stars
Visit the author's website
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
20 October, 2010
Love it! The final Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Crippled God, cover art. Just love it. (Thanks to Aidan)
I guess there's what's been called an "embargo" on reviews for Towers of Midnight, the penultimate volume in the widely-read Wheel of Time series. A couple bloggers of spoken about other bloggers "breaking the rules" in regards to holding off reviews until release day.
In my oh-so-humble opinion, I think it's just one more item in the publisher's bag of tricks. They say no, bloggers break the rules, more hype, etc., etc.
I don't really understand the point of the ARC unless it's to be read before the date of publication, especially with a big release like this. It is called "advanced" correct? And everyone is going to read it anyway.
1. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie: Reviewed by Speculative Horizons - I'm dying to get my hands on this. All I have to say is Black Dow.
1. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin: Reviewed by The Speculative Scotsman - Been wanting to read this for a while, probably should just do it already.
1. Against All Things Ending by Stephen Donaldson: Reviewed by Speculative Book Review's Peter William - I own the first trilogy but never read it. It will happen. Oh, and this is a 10 out of 10 review. Not too shabby.
And that's the news...at least to me.
19 October, 2010
There is a second part to the chapter, but I won't spoil it for you as it is big news - though some of you might have guessed at it by now. It involves a certain young swordsman who joined an order of religious warriors that wear white cloaks...
I know you are all excited as I am to get yours hands on this bad boy. Strangely enough the wait hasn't seemed all that long given the previous publication lull in the series. Tai'Shar fast writing!
For those who do not obsessively follow Wheel of Time news, you can read two non-spoiler reviews of Towers of Midnight at Dragonmount and Theoryland.
18 October, 2010
The Truth of Valor takes the Confederation series down to a more personal level, focusing on the relationship between Kerr and Craig Ryder as well as the emotional scars Kerr still bears from her previous adventures. For all of the novel's adrenaline filled last second escapes from certain death, it also showcases a deeper focus on the moral implications associated with the use of deadly force. While many of Kerr's battles have been both personal and emotional, they have always taken place in the context of a military hierarchy supported by the strongest of moral justifications. This time around, readers are given a glimpse of the real Kerr, separate from her military persona, but still kicking ass.
Don't let my lofty talk about the deeper issues distract you form the fact that The Truth of Valor is one hell of a ride. While the book is perhaps not the best in the series, it certainly hits many of the same high notes and is sure to delight any and all fans of military sci-fi. Tanya caters to her audience by relying on her strengths in this book. Readers familiar with the series will enjoy the cross-species interactions - and sex - as well as the playful banter and inner monologues emblematic of the Confederation series as a whole.
My main gripe, and the one I make about virtually every series i read, is that the book answers none of the series' meta questions. Much like Kerr, readers are in the dark as to the greater going's on in the universe she inhabits. No news about the war between the Primacy and the Confederation besides brief references to the fact that it is still going on. No news about the sentient poly-numerous plastic that controls the universe and instigated the war in the first place, besides a deus-ex moment at the end of the novel. I mean come on, I need some closure here!
If you haven't started on the Confederation series, none of this will be making any sense. Start with Valor's Choice and get back to me.
The Truth of Valor is your standard space pirate adventure where the good guys come close to loosing way too many times for comfort. The fast pace and low word count will make for a quick and enjoyable read. Torin Kerr is essentially the Bruce Willis of military science fiction... if Mr. Willis were a woman and lived in the future. They both always end up banged up at the end of their adventures, and the bad guys always go boom in a very satisfying explosion.
Highly recommended for readers of less lofty titles who enjoy action... in space.
14 October, 2010
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.
Much to Byron's chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?
I'm really glad Alex J. Cavanaugh contacted me to review his book, CassaStar [US] [UK], which comes out next Tuesday, October 19.
This was a fun tale of friendship and overcoming the odds that I flew through pretty fast. With this in mind, it wasn't a perfect book and that's why this review will be divided into The Good and The Bad. Very creative I know.
At first I was really annoyed with the main character, Byron and he, in turn, is annoyed at almost everyone he meets. Byron gives off a surly attitude mixed with a cockiness, which quickly becomes understandable (to my satisfaction) and even relatable as you come to learn about his motives and past.
Byron and all characters in CassaStar are from Cassa and Cassans have an innate ability for telepathy. Each person can not only read each others thoughts, but their emotions as well. Except that Byron has become adept at closing himself off, or putting up his shields, to others.
I couldn't help thinking how much this could help our own society if we could only read people's true intentions instead of being quick to get offended all the time, especially when offense is not intended. Benefit of the doubt anyone? I'm not always the best at that. Although that's perfectly fine on the internet. :)
The story itself is straightforward, which is a nice change of pace, and becomes a pleasant tale of friendship and even poignant towards the latter half of the book. I guess I was in a contemplative mood while reading this because I found myself wondering how closed off I am towards people when all they could use is a friend. I feel bad that it's not always the case that I reach out a hand to those in need and overcome my own comfort zones.
While I enjoyed the story, there are a couple gripes I had that I just couldn't get over.
The main thing I had a problem with in CassaStar was the motivations for not only Byron, but the whole fleet against the alien race, the Vindicarns. Byron becomes a fighter pilot because he has nothing left, but that leaves the story a little stale. What does it matter if he doesn't move on to become a pilot in the fleet? It didn't seem like was more than Byron would be disappointed and have to do something else. To engage my emotions, I needed this to be more life and death if not xenocide.
When the fleet starts fighting the Vindicarns, I again found motivation lacking. What had this race done to the Cassans? It really wasn't anything more than they were attacking their ships and I needed more than this. Did they blow up your home panet? Did they kiss your girlfriend behind your back?
The last thing was the cookie-cutter ending. Things just fit nicely into a box and it was perfect for our protagonist to step in. Too perfect.
When Should You Read CassaStar?
CassaStar was a fun romp in space with fighting spaceships and aliens. It's straight-forward and easy to follow, which is a good thing to read when you're, for instance, in law school and all you do is read/analyze technical cases.
3 out of 5 Stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
13 October, 2010
I did gather up a few of the most interesting items that I know you've already seen. :)
This is probably the coolest map I've seen for Ian C. Esslemont's Malazan Empire series (and Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen for that matter). The map of The Lands of Fist from the upcoming Stonewielder by Ian C. Esslemont:
One of my new favorite authors, Daniel Abraham, has some cover art for The Dragon's Path, the first in his new series coming out next year called The Dagger and the Coin:
Abraham's been a busy guy lately, with Leviathan Wakes, a collaboration between Abraham and Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S. A. Corey and speaking of busy guys...
Brandon Sanderson just posted an extremely detailed outlook on his writing/publishing plans for the future. I love that when he takes breaks, he writes other books. Now that's a love of writing. Hope that can continue since he's made me a fan.
And that's the news...at least to me. (sorry it's not much)
08 October, 2010
07 October, 2010
Similar in heft to the recently released The Way of Kings, the novel is set in a far distant future where humanity spans the stars. At the galactic boundary, humans and aliens both observe the event horizon of an expanding micro-galaxy which is consuming space at terrifying speed. Far from being a natural occurrence, the micro-galaxy is the creation of a race long extinct. Inside, the laws of physics are suspended and thought is given physical form. Telekinesis, telepathy, and the ability to travel in time are staples of this micro galaxy.
Humanity is shepherded by a sentient artificial intelligence - ANA - which borders on the divine. As humans move past the physical stage of their existence, they are permitted to 'download' into ANA, where they are freed from their biological constraints. Within ANA, humans are divided into political parties. Some are fairly harmless, while others, such as the Advancers, seek to force humanity and ANA to evolve towards an entirely post-physical existence.
In terms of tone and texture, Peter's narrative is very much akin to that of Richard Morgan after stretching the canvas. Takeshi Kovacs would be right at home were his story to be a thread in Peter's world. The technology and general disposition of the human race, even the social issues raised by both authors, are, if not similar, then largely complimentary. The principal difference between the two is simply one of focus.
All in all, The Evolutionary Void was not as amazing as its two predecessors. It was good, it had all the right elements, but it also felt a bit rushed. My most pronounced complaint is that the ending was more of a dismissal than a resolution, clearly leaving Peter room to build another trilogy set after the Void. You can't resolve the fate of the galaxy in just three chapters Peter! Especially after such a tactful buildup, readers will be expecting a much more 'epic' final conclusion.
Generally speaking though, read the Void trilogy. I can't imagine any reader of this blog not, at the very least, seeing why it is a great series. From action to sex all the way through to awesomely advanced technology - which makes the sex even more interesting - the Void trilogy and Commonwealth Saga as a whole have it all. Recommended to the point where I would have to smack you a little if you thought you didn't need to read this. Enough said.
Reviewing the final book in a trilogy is never an easy task. My brief introduction is sure to spoiler a couple of chapters in the first two books, even after trying to be as vague as possible. All I can say is that the Void trilogy is highly recommended. You don't even have to rely on my word alone. Adam, the resident blogosphere expert on Hamilton's work, also had similar thoughts in his review of the Evolutionary Void.
Where to Start?
The task of catching readers up on The Dreaming Void and the Temporal Void for the purpose of this review is an impossibility. These are expansive volumes of some of the best space opera I have ever enjoyed. In fact, even starting with The Dreaming Void is probably not recommended. Readers are encouraged to acquaint themselves with Peter's characters in some of his earlier works in the Commonwealth Universe... starting with Pandora's Star.
06 October, 2010
This is one of those covers that really makes you want to read the book whether you've head anything about it or not. Ketai Kotaki did a wonderful job for The Unremembered [US preorder] [UK preorder] by Peter Orullian. Amazon has this coming out in the US in April 2011, with no date for the UK.
Tim Marquitz, author of Armageddon Bound (review) has been working on the sequel titled Resurrection. He just posted a "snippet" on his blog. Can't wait for that to come out.
I mentioned before that I love this cover and coupled with the fact that EdiFanoB (our former colleague) loved it, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack [US] [UK] is moving up my TBR pile. Here's an excerpt that was recently released.
The Wertzone brought to my attention a new discussion of The Wheel of Time, including Robert Jordan vs. Brandon Sanderson as authors. Interesting reading and not too long if you were wondering. :)
SF Signal's recurring Mind Meld asks which science fiction and fantasy tropes should be retired.
Paul Kearney gets interviewed at the Solaris blog...
...and Sam Sykes answers Nethspace's Questions Five. Parents strongly cautioned. :)
Top 3 Reviews
3. Dave Brendon: Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance by Sean Williams - Definitely wins for longs title or title with the most sub-parts. I haven't read many Star Wars books, but Dave gave this a 10 out of 10 for the audiobook (only 7 out of 10 in paper). I have to agree that Star Wars audiobooks are amazing, what with the sound effects (light sabers, droids, etc.) and music.
2. Battle Hymns: Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King - This review isn't technically from this week, but it's gotten me excited to jump back into The Dark Tower series, maybe even by the end of the year.
1. Masterworks: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin - I picked this up not too long ago and it looks like that was a good idea from the review here.
And that's the news...at least to me.