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Book Blog

September 18, 2022

Persephone Station (Review)

n interesting idea for a book, a feminized version of The Magnificent Seven set in a scifi space opera. But instead of poor Japanese peasants or poor Mexican farmers, this time it’s an unknown alien culture that is hidden away in a planet where the only spaceport is surrounded by poisonous plants and dangerous animals, artificially placed by the indigenous race to contain the humans. But even as I write this, it feels awfully thin – nobody ever dropped so much as a probe elsewhere to confirm if the rest of the planet is such a hellhole? And the aliens […]
September 11, 2022

A Storm in Kingstown (Review)

t was a shame that Nina Allen’s short story A Storm in Kingstown was placed in a volume of short stories called “Out of the Ruins”. See, the story takes place in a medieval town (complete with drunkards and a plague and cloistered nuns and witch-hunters). Our heroine, Doris, works pouring ale and slopping pigs, just grinding through her days. But a friend of hers named Saira, a young girl who escaped the convent, has come and brought strange thoughts to Doris before disappearing (in the night a storm flooded out the section of town she was in). But Doris, […]
September 4, 2022

If the Allies had Fallen (Review)

ound this on the bargain aisle-cap at Barnes-n-Noble while holding an armful already. Very catchy cover with a picture of Big Ben draped with a huge Nazi flag. And the title. For ten bucks, why not? There has been a lot of speculative literature on this. In The Man in the High Castle, it’s just a given that the Axis had won. Same thing in a lot of alt-hist. The problem comes down to the actuals, which this collection of pieces studies. If the Allies had Fallen is not written by scifi writers looking for a nifty new background for their […]
August 28, 2022

The Alchemist (Review)

n a way, Paulo Coelho’s book, The Alchemist, reminds me a lot of reading Richard Bach’s books back in the 80s. He was a pilot who discovered new age ways and wrote about it, coupling flying and out-of-body experiences. The Alchemist is more a work of fiction (with thoughts and ideas you can bring to your normal life). It is the story of a Spanish shepherd in a time where there are guns yet no cars (so, maybe the late 1800s) who dreams of traveling to the pyramids, for there (his dreams tell him) is his undiscovered treasure. As the […]
August 21, 2022

The Art of War (Review)

his book is actually two books in one. First off, there is the codification of rules and strategies of war, from the basic (don’t attack uphill) to the abstract (don’t be guided by anger). In this first half, we get the transcribed words of Su-Tzu (or someone else, or even a collections of someone elses) from the sixth century BC, listing his principles of warfare. I decided to have a read of it when a scifi story I read made open mention of the Art, but not by name (I guessed it correctly, through). So the first half are the […]
August 14, 2022

The Cruel Stars (Review)

eah, yeah, I know, ANOTHER Ark Royal book, this the eleventh in the set. And for The Cruel Stars, we go back to author Christopher Nuttall’s favorite moment in his history, the desperate First Interstellar War between the humans and the Tadpoles, where humans were only just hanging on against a foe with slightly better tech, one that had studied us and played us and destroyed our joint fleet off New Russia. So now the humans are struggling to find ships and manpower to replace their grievous loses. This book tells us one of their many attempts, and this one […]
August 7, 2022

The Year’s Best Science Fiction (Vol 1) (Review)

‘m kinda cheating here. I’m in the middle of an Ark Royal book and I had to give Art of War a break (interesting, but they are milking it through explanations to justify a bookish length). So really, I began The Year’s Best Science Fiction (Vol 1) , by Jonathan Strahan, after last Christmas (when my who-knows-me-best wife gifted it to me). And she got it off the old books graveyard shelf, given that it was Yule 2021 and the year in Year, here, is 2019. But collections of short stories can be the bomb. You can read them in any order, […]
July 31, 2022

Thoughts and Prayers (Review)

stumbled across Thoughts and Prayers by author Ken Liu in that wonderful The Years Best Science Fiction, presumably the year being 2019 (oddly, it’s not clear). Anyway, just giving you the name of the story means I’m giving you a knee-jerk reaction. You are either agreeing with what you think I’m going to say or deciding that I want to pry your gun from your cold dead hands. Even though the latter might be a little true, no, this story goes deeper than that. Told in the interesting format from various characters involved, we learn that an older sister / […]
July 31, 2022

We have always lived on Mars (take 2) (Review)

o this was one a coworker handed me, a short piece of fiction of a failing Mars colony from Tor Books. Imagine a Mars colony totally cut off. Earth no longer communicates. Dust covers their sky – they’ve not seen the moons or stars or anything. The colony has no resources to expand. All they can do is carefully monitor life support, sending out old folks to die while replacing them with occasional births. Everything is dusty and worn and bleak. So Nina, one of the young women of Mars, turns out to be special. With her suit ripped in […]
July 24, 2022

Watching God (Review)

ey, I’m a long-term China Mieville fan. He writes wonderfully and while I don’t often understand everything that is being conveyed to me, it’s usually a treat. Found his name on a collection of short stories titled Out of the Ruins. Possibly I should have peeked at the story he’d contributed to the collection because now, in retrospect, I think I’ve got it elsewhere in my stacks. Anyway, the tale is titled Watching God. It’s a great piece, if not (as usual) a bit esoteric for a guy like me. So in this story, there is a community of people […]