Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Quiet War 4 ii - Paul J. McAuley


"The assistants exchanged glances. They were both in their forties but looked about Macy's age, slim and fine-boned, looming over her like a pair of friendly giraffes. Argyll Hall with his paper-white complexion and cockatoo's crest of bright red hair; Loris Sher Yanagita with her bright green eyes, pupils slitted like a cat's. Macy liked both of them. She didn't doubt that they were reporting on her every move, but they were hard-working, competent, and, in their different ways, enthusiastic. Loris was quiet, someone who liked to listen rather than talk, and talked only when she felt that she had something worth saying, but she had an intense, slow-burning ardour for her work; she reminded Macy of the way wildsiders carried fire from camp to camp, smouldering punk caught inside a fold of clay. Argyll was a more vivid character, quick-minded and impulsive, brimming with half-formed ideas, talkative and endlessly curious about how things were done on Earth, and Macy's reactions to the way things were done here. Although Macy tried to appear unshockable, she was shocked, more than a little, by the tweaks Outers made to their bodies. Argyll had spotted this at once, and made a point of letting Macy know all about his little differences from the human norm. Physiological adaptations to microgravity, cellular mechanisms that enhanced repair to radiation damage, speedier reflexes and a ballet dancer's sense of balance, changes in his corpus callosum that enabled him to survive on catnaps for months at a time or enter a sleep as profound as hibernation, and a dozen lesser tweaks, from the reflective membrane at the back of his eyes that increased his night vision to perfect pitch. When Macy had given it back to him, asking why Outers didn't go all the way and grow hands at the ends of their legs instead of feet, Argyll had shrugged and smiled and said that maybe one day they would, and Loris had said, ‘Have you ever tried walking on your hands all the time? Even in our gravity, it's hard. They just aren't built for it.'

‘How about tails?' Macy had said, trying to be provocative.

Loris had thought about this for a moment, calm and serious and imperturbable. ‘I think they tried that in Camelot, Mimas. Of course, the gravity is lower there . . .'"

4 out of 5

Sly Mongoose 4 - Tobias S. Buckell


"“Mom told me,” Timas said. “If he is still alive, can we hold him accountable? Is he from the Aeolian cities?” If so, he might be rich enough to fix the damage he’d done. Unlike Yatapek, the Aeolians came from worlds where humans had lots of contact with aliens and their advanced technologies. The Aeolians had faced oppression, minorities among those alien worlds. But now they called Chilo their own, using the tools and technologies they’d wrested away from other races. How could Yatapek compete with that?

“We don’t know,” Ollin shrugged. “But he will pay one way or another for what he did. He’s delirious, he keeps talking about zombies and invasions. We think he may have spent time here before.” People nicknamed Aeolian ambassadors “Zombies” due to their awkward pauses and blank looks."

4 out of 5

Nightfall - Arthur C. Clarke


Rocket dust rain epitaph.

3.5 out of 5

The Curse - Arthur C. Clarke


Rocket dust rain epitaph.

3.5 out of 5

2001 A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke


Moon machine.

4 out of 5

A Bad Day For Vermin - Keith Laumer

The Exterminator - Keith Laumer

Maybe human vermin.

3 out of 5

The Time Thieves - Keith Laumer

The Star-Sent Knaves - Keith Laumer

Time travel, inter dimensional stuff, all a bit hard to cope.

2.5 out of 5

It Could Be Anything - Keith Laumer

A Trip to the City - Keith Laumer

Urban dummies.

3 out of 5

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Fable Of the Tyrannosaurus Rex - Peter S. Beagle


Decent grasp on asteroids. Could never get the hang of Thursdays.

3.5 out of 5

Med Ship - Murray Leinster


Another Baen collection that is a pleasure to read, and available thanks to the Free Library.

Here we have the exploits of Calhoun of the Med Service, his overdrive capable spaceship, and his tormal animal assistant Murgatroyd - who likes saying 'chee' and coffee, in whichever order you like. He also has the ability to tell which substances may or may not be edible or harmful, and his biochemistry has other useful features, as well.

Whichever planet has a plague or a problem, and usually both, even a violent one, Calhoun will do his best to try and work things out.

A 3.25 type collection I'd call this one.

Med Ship : Med Ship Man - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : Plague on Kryder II - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : The Mutant Weapon - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : Ribbon in the Sky - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : Tallien Three - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : Quarantine World - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : The Grandfathers' War - Murray Leinster
Med Ship : Pariah Planet - Murray Leinster

Maya cattle-fence run.

3.5 out of 5

Spreading this shouldn't be a job.

3 out of 5

Calhoun and his handy pet Murgatroyd have to face a group using plague as a planetary conquest tool.

4 out of 5

Got to keep the exogamy going.

2.5 out of 5

Counter-para opposition smokeout.

3.5 out of 5

Got to have the right air for the right direction.

3 out of 5

All the kids are really sick.

3 out of 5

It isn't easy being blue.

Calhoun and his tormal assistant are off again:

The Med Ship actually moved at a rate which was a preposterous number of times the speed of light, but it felt absolutely solid, absolutely firm and fixed. A ship in overdrive feels exactly as if it were buried deep in the core of a planet. There is no vibration. There is no sign of anything but solidity and, if one looks out a port, there is only utter blackness plus an absence of sound fit to make one's eardrums crack.

"It doesn't hurt him," Calhoun explained. "Right after he's born there's a tiny spot on his flank that has the pain-nerves desensitized. Murgatroyd's all right. That's what he's for." "But he's your friend!" said Maril. Murgatroyd, despite his small size and furriness, had all the human attributes an animal which lives with humans soon acquires. Calhoun looked at him with affection. "He's my assistant. I don't ask anything of him that I can do myself. But we're both Med Service. And I do things for him that he can't do for himself. For example, I make coffee for him." Murgatroyd heard the familiar word. He said, "Chee!"

The blueskins are people afflicted with a skin condition, outcast, and now very hungry. So Calhoun only has to find a cure, get in some good blaster-bolt work, solve a hunger crisis, and stop a fusion bomb space war standoff.

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

This World Is Taboo - Murray Leinster

Pariah Planet [vt This World is Taboo] - Murray Leinster

It isn't easy being blue.

Calhoun and his tormal assistant are off again:

"The Med Ship actually moved at a rate which was a preposterous number of times the speed of light, but it felt absolutely solid, absolutely firm and fixed. A ship in overdrive feels exactly as if it were buried deep in the core of a planet. There is no vibration. There is no sign of anything but solidity and, if one looks out a port, there is only utter blackness plus an absence of sound fit to make one's eardrums crack."


"It doesn't hurt him," Calhoun explained. "Right after he's born there's a tiny spot on his flank that has the pain-nerves desensitized. Murgatroyd's all right. That's what he's for." "But he's your friend!" said Maril. Murgatroyd, despite his small size and furriness, had all the human attributes an animal which lives with humans soon acquires. Calhoun looked at him with affection. "He's my assistant. I don't ask anything of him that I can do myself. But we're both Med Service. And I do things for him that he can't do for himself. For example, I make coffee for him." Murgatroyd heard the familiar word. He said, "Chee!"

The blueskins are people afflicted with a skin condition, outcast, and now very hungry. So Calhoun only has to find a cure, get in some good blaster-bolt work, solve a hunger crisis, and stop a fusion bomb space war standoff.

4 out of 5

Pariah Planet - Murray Leinster

Pariah Planet [vt This World is Taboo] - Murray Leinster

It isn't easy being blue.

Calhoun and his tormal assistant are off again:

"The Med Ship actually moved at a rate which was a preposterous number of times the speed of light, but it felt absolutely solid, absolutely firm and fixed. A ship in overdrive feels exactly as if it were buried deep in the core of a planet. There is no vibration. There is no sign of anything but solidity and, if one looks out a port, there is only utter blackness plus an absence of sound fit to make one's eardrums crack."


"It doesn't hurt him," Calhoun explained. "Right after he's born there's a tiny spot on his flank that has the pain-nerves desensitized. Murgatroyd's all right. That's what he's for." "But he's your friend!" said Maril. Murgatroyd, despite his small size and furriness, had all the human attributes an animal which lives with humans soon acquires. Calhoun looked at him with affection. "He's my assistant. I don't ask anything of him that I can do myself. But we're both Med Service. And I do things for him that he can't do for himself. For example, I make coffee for him." Murgatroyd heard the familiar word. He said, "Chee!"

The blueskins are people afflicted with a skin condition, outcast, and now very hungry. So Calhoun only has to find a cure, get in some good blaster-bolt work, solve a hunger crisis, and stop a fusion bomb space war standoff.

4 out of 5

The Grandfather's War - Murray Leinster

The Grandfather's War - Murray Leinster

All the kids are really sick.

3 out of 5

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Quiet War 4 - Paul J. McAuley


"Emmanuel Vargo had been one of the prime movers of the project to construct a biome at the city of Rainbow Bridge, Callisto, a symbol of cooperation and reconciliation between Earth and the Outer System, and a major step in the long campaign to defuse tension between Earth's radical green conservatism and the smorgasbord of radical doctrines and utopian philosophies of the Outer System's city-states and settlements. Avernus, the Outer System's most notorious gene wizard, had drawn on her prodigious stores of karma to sponsor the biome's construction, and Maximilian Peixoto and the green saint Oscar Finnegan Ramos had persuaded the Brazilian government to underwrite the cost of designing and quickening of its ecosystem. Although the green saint's great-great-grandson, Euclides Peixoto, had been appointed titular head of the construction crew, Emmanuel Vargo had been responsible for every aspect of the planning and organisation of Greater Brazil's contribution. He'd collaborated with Oscar Finnegan Ramos's protégée, Sri Hong-Owen, in the design of the ecosystem, liaised with the Callistan crew during the construction of the biome's tent, and would have been responsible for supervising the elaboration and quickening of the ecosystem from start to finish."

4 out of 5

Quarantine World - Murray Leinster

Quarantine World - Murray Leinster

Got to have the right air for the right direction.

3 out of 5

Tallien Three - Murray Leinster

Tallien Three - Murray Leinster

Counter-para opposition smokeout.

3.5 out of 5

Usurpers - Derek Zumsteg


Race plan.

3 out of 5

Sly Mongoose 3 - Tobias S. Buckell


"“He can’t come.” His mom sat by him on the bed. The ropes under the mattress creaked. “Did you hear about the impact on the city’s shell?”

“A body hit the city. That caused the debris, right?”

“Yes. Your dad went to help seal the dome, if you climb to our roof you might be able see the patch from here. The person who crashed through, he’s still alive. Ollin is with him in quarantine.”

“Quarantine?” Timas had never heard of anything like that before.

“The person insisted. Two days quarantine. The Pipiltin decided to do it.”"

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bold As Love - Gwyneth Jones


This is another of those 'how the hell did she think of this books'?

On the face of it, you might think it would be either a) ludicrous, or b) inordinately soppy.

It ain't either. I don't know how Jones did it, but she did. Even escapes nicking Hendrix' titles.

In a little bit in the future England, things are falling apart. So much so that the musical counterculture again has political clout, and so much so that a rockstar of the violent bent stages a coup.

That does not end well, and this brings to the fore the classic Arthurian trio of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot.

Or, in this case, Ax Preston (got to have a guitar player, right?), Fiorinda Slater, and Sage Pender.

With a severe energy crisis looming, and a fractured country and war with the muslims coming, and the standard government completely useless these three must try and use their musical and other talents to get everyone through.

With the decline of most technology, the rise of just that bit of mystical power is coming.

4.5 out of 5

John - Jeffrey Thomas


Elephant of a Ripper in the room.

3.5 out of 5

Flesh Wound - Jeffrey Thomas


Bad hole, be quiet.

3 out of 5

Cheer - Megan Abbott


Party girl coaching.

3.5 out of 5

Curioser and Curioser - Brian Stableford


Mad housewife search plot.

3 out of 5

The Picture - Brian Stableford


Gray art blame.

3 out of 5

Stealing Happy Hours - Paul Di Filippo


Pleasuresucker strangulation showdown.

3.5 out of 5

Camp - Jeremy C. Shipp


Sheep release fault.

4 out of 5

Burial Of the Dead - Lavie Tidhar


In game life collection.

3.5 out of 5

Supervillainz 1 - Alicia E. Goranson


"The Hawk snarled in a low electric voice, “You leave those kids alone, ’cause I'm the best that's ever been.” Without stopping, it struck the man on his cheek. The man gripped his face and cried out while spitting on the Hawk’s chest. He dropped his gun and Bit’s keys on the pavement.

Devon shouted at Bit, “Run!” and took off past the Hawk for his own set. Bit snatched up her own, and heard another thud. The man lost his balance and collapsed on top of her, crashing her into the road. She crawled out from under his quivering bulk, and shook off the trickle running down her right temple. She touched the opening in her skin and the raw nerves brought her back. She picked herself up as a metal leg smashed into the man’s gut.

“How do you like that?” the Hawk said, “You didn't want me here, did you? Even if I am the best?” It flipped the man on his back with the next impact. Bit held her hands to her chest and ran ahead."

2.5 out of 5

Memory Analog - Tim Akers


Lost boy communication, no.

3 out of 5

Tohil - Edo Mor


Mail kid burn.

3 out of 5

Day Is Done Gone the Sun - Elizabeth Massie


Snap light son suck.

3.5 out of 5

Scarecrow Boy - Scott Nicholson


Your turn for just hanging around.

3.5 out of 5

Sky Rise - Ursula Pflug


Stair chucker trap.

3 out of 5

Taut Red Ribbon - Sarah Langan


Shadow talk.

3 out of 5

Deathlehem - James Van Pelt


No sheep, not rocky.

2.5 out of 5

The Laughing Man Meets Little Cat - Paul Tremblay


Not very particular end.

2.5 out of 5

Land Speed Record - Nick Mamatas


Spaced out revolution.

3 out of 5

Werewolves and Princesses - Tim Pratt


Furry faerie chess save.

3.5 out of 5

Ice On Heated Steel Script - Tom Piccirilli


Dragon baby bounce.

3.5 out of 5

Sloe-eyed Jacks and Homicide Kings - Jay Lake


Pretty fashion victims.

3.5 out of 5

The Secrets Of the Living - Sarah Langan


Empty me now.

2.5 out of 5

Courting Costs - Tim Pratt


Goat got deal.

3.5 out of 5

Reflections Of - Gary A. Braunbeck


Dead talk starting again.

3 out of 5

Alchymical Romance - Lee Battersby


No love, bronzed.

3 out of 5

The Quiet War 3 - Paul J. McAuley


Rothco Yang, the representative from Rainbow Bridge, Callisto, stepped out of the crowd and greeted Sri and Alder and told them that he had been most impressed by the solemn and splendid occasion. 'One thing puzzled me,' he said. 'The fish.'

'The fish?'

'The fish in the pool or moat or whatever it is called.' Rothco Yang, dressed in black silk pyjamas and a black broad-brimmed hat, was fastened inside the cage of the exoskeleton that supported him against the pull of Earth's gravity. 'I was wondering what happens to them afterward. After they are . . . finished.'

'I really don't know,' Sri said, 'but I could look it up.'

Alder said, 'Nothing happens to the fish. They are holy, I think.'


'Blessed by the archbishop,' Alder said.

Rothco Yang's smile gleamed under the brim of his hat. His head was propped by a padded neck-brace. 'And is this how all people are, what is the phrase, returned to Gaia?'

'Only the most important,' Alder said.

'And the rest?'

'People who can afford it are buried in green cemeteries. Woods, wildflower meadows. Everyone else is directly recycled.'

'I see. Another example of the stratification caused by personal wealth. Are you waiting for someone, by the way?'

3.5 out of 5

The Quiet War 2 - Paul J. McAuley


"Which was, when all the jargon and doubletalk was boiled away, some kind of rewiring or augmentation of their nervous systems that would allow them not only to plug directly into the plane's control systems, but also to briefly boost their neural-processing speeds. When Sri Hong-Owen was done, General Peixoto addressed the pilots again, telling them that it was an extremely radical procedure, that there was no guarantee that it would work in every case, or that everyone would survive it. If any of them wished to walk away and return to normal duties, there would be no dishonour in doing so, no shame, and no mention of it on their service record, he said, and asked those who wished to volunteer to raise their hands.

Cash stuck his arm straight up. So did everyone else. Someone down at the front was waving both his hands above his head. Because, hell, who didn't want to be a better pilot?"

3.5 out of 5

Flip Flap - Elizabeth Massie


Not a magic midget.

3.5 out of 5

The Woman Coughed Up By the Sea - Scott William Carter


Not the right painting.

3 out of 5

Dragons - Laura Anne Gilman


Wheelie needie rapture.

3 out of 5

The Chains That You Refuse - Elizabeth Bear


This one is a podcast. Melancholy magicians mourn magic.

3 out of 5

Front Row Seats - Scott William Carter


Starfish ticket.

3 out of 5

Benno On Hollywood - Jay Lake


Cable pants itchy.

3.5 out of 5

All the Windwracked Stars 3 Hagalaz - Elizabeth Bear


"She lunged.

And failed again.

Light blazed Nathr's length, filling the alley with a stellar incandescence, so bright it washed everything to stark blue and to shadows, making knife-edged the crags of his face. The Grey Wolf sidestepped, weaponless, sweeping aside the swirl of her weighted cloak and catching her right hand with arrogant ease. He twisted, and her bright blade doused upon the stones as the bones in her wrist and hand cracked and slipped.

Muire choked on a cry. Her knees folded. She fumbled left-handed for the flechette pistol, but the Grey Wolf caught her arm and hauled her up again, drawing her into the shadow of the wall. A fragile halo of numbness wrapped her hand, which she knew would shred into agony the instant she tried to move. Ironically, the pressure of the Grey Wolf's hand was a comfort, stabilizing broken bone."

3.5 out of 5

All the Windwracked Stars 2 Thurisaz - Elizabeth Bear


"The Last Day was nothing, meant nothing. It has become myth only, as Midgard had been myth to the children of the Light. Waelcyrge and einherjar were barely legends now, and human society had flourished very well--had blossomed--without them.

Blossomed. And then fallen like the rose to the canker--rotten, slimed, and dead. They did it themselves, the Desolation, created it with their bioweapons and their radiation bombs, with their shoggoth main battle groups and their killer robots and their orbital microwave projectors, their mass projectors and combat sorcerers and laser-guided death curses. Over two centuries past, the fatal bullet."

4 out of 5

All the Windwracked Stars 1 Isa - Elizabeth Bear


"There was snow at the end of the world, and Kasimir was dying in it. Broken wings dragged from his shoulders like defeated banners, disordered feathers hauling crimson streaks through the snow that would not stop falling. The wings were the worst pain, each step grinding bone-shards through savaged muscle and lacing his withers with acid ribbons.

The worst pain, but not the only. One foreleg wouldn't bear his weight. His harness dragged askew, girth snapped, stirrups banging his ribs as he hobbled in circles, right head hanging, antlers scraping ice and frozen earth and fouling his remaining foreleg.

But still he walked, limping in tightening circles, bellying through drifts that rose to his chest, blood freezing bright as hawthorn berries on feathers and hide that faded into the mounting snow.

It was cold, and he was dying alone. But somewhere under the snow was Herfjotur, who had been his before she was torn from the saddle. Kasimir was a valraven, the war-steed of a waelcyrge, and they were dead, all dead, every one of them, the waelcyrge and the einherjar, the Choosers of the slain and their immortal warriors.

They were dead. Herfjotur was dead. It was snowing.

And Kasimir would not lie down until he found her."

4 out of 5

No Man's Land 1 - Greg Rucka


"The shape kept moving, another rustle of shadow, and the gang member who had taken the backpack dropped it, spilling the contents all on the ground. The other Street Demonz, who had been holding Paolo, moved forward, trying to attack.

But you cannot attack a shadow, Nicky thought, and as if to prove him right, their blows landed in empty air. There was another rustle, and the shape was behind them, had one of the men by the arm, had hit him twice in the face, then was pitching him sharply away. Another of the gang members was passing Nicky, as if trying to flee, and the shape turned, and Nicky got a good look then, just for an instant, as the shape reached out as if its arm were impossibly long. The man pitched forward into the street with a cry, then stumbled back up and ran.

The shape pivoted, but the last of the Demonz had already fled.

"Batman," Paolo said.

Nicky tried to find his voice, to say, no, no, not Batman, at least, not like we were told, but the shape was already crouching at the backpack, replacing the spilled cans, then offering the bag to Nicky. When the arms moved, the cape billowed back, and Nicky saw the shape in the shadow, the yellow outline of the bat on the black chest.

A woman's chest."

4 out of 5

Private Wars - Greg Rucka


Twenty-one minutes.

Then thirty.

And then, coming back over the rise, Javlon, grinning from ear to ear, holding a pistol in one hand, and a box of ammunition in the other. When he saw her, he began jogging toward her.

"Tracy! Look!"

Alarmingly, he pointed the pistol at her, and for an awful second, Chace wondered if she would have to kill him, if he didn't kill her first. But the triumphant grin remained on his thin face as he closed the distance, the pride of a job well done, and when he reached her, she took the pistol from his grip quickly, and without any resistance.

"Good, yes?" he asked her, breathless. "Good gun?"

3.5 out of 5

A Gentleman's Game 1 - Greg Rucka


"Everyone involved, from the staff in the Ops Room to the officers of the Special Section—known in-house as the Minders—to the Director of Operations himself, Paul Crocker, understood that. Chace, then Minder Two, had distinguished herself, and Wallace had been right. One day, she would have his job. One day, she would be Minder One, the Head of Section.

Which was what she wanted. Or, more precisely, part of what she wanted. Distinguishing herself wasn't enough. The "good" assignments didn't interest her. She wanted the bad ones, the ones no one believed in, the ones that required a Minder, and, more, required her. She wanted to prove herself, not just that she was capable, but that she was better.

While she had done all these things, she had also murdered a man in the name of queen and of country.

No matter how she tried, it couldn't be rationalized.

And finally she understood why Tom Wallace's laughter never seemed to reach his eyes."

4 out of 5

A Fistful Of Rain - Greg Rucka


"The engine falls silent.

The girl feels weightless and dizzy, and doesn't remember turning to look at what has happened. She doesn't know if she is running or walking or floating to the edge of garage. She cannot hear the sound of her father emerging from the cab of his pickup truck, and she cannot hear the words her brother is shouting at her as he takes her shoulders and tries to turn her away.

Most of all, she cannot hear the sound that her mother is making, caught between Firestone and the ground."

3.5 out of 5

Keeper - Greg Rucka


"Much as I wanted to, I didn't break the guy's nose.

Instead, I kept both hands on Alison's shoulders, using my body as a shield to get us through the crowd. At six feet and over one hundred and ninety pounds, I'm big enough to be intimidating, even wearing glasses. People normally get out of my way when I want them to."

3 out of 5

Finder - Greg Rucka


"She was lost.

I only saw her because I was doing my job, just looking for trouble, and I must have missed him when he came in, because I didn't see him enter. He was a white male in his early thirties, neat in his clothes and precise in his movement, and he clearly wasn't with the scene, the way he lurked in the corners of the club floor. The Strap had been built in an abandoned warehouse, the walls painted pit-black and the lights positioned to make shadows rather than eliminate them. For people who were serious about the scene, The Strap wasn't a club of choice, and if they showed at all, it wasn't until after midnight, when the wannabes had gone to greener pastures or to bed."

3.5 out of 5

Smoker - Greg Rucka


""It's an easy job, Atticus. We plant Dean at the Orsini Hotel, button him up there for two weeks, tops. Two thousand dollars for the work, and you don't even have to sit on him twenty-four/seven. I'll supply three or four other guards to make him feel safe, you'll all keep him company, and everyone will be happy."

"I'm wondering if I should be insulted," I said.

"The word is out." Trent said it gently. "Some people in our business—in this city, at least—don't want anything to do with you. After the death of that little girl, after the death of Rubin Febres, after the whole mess this last winter with the SAS, they figure you're dangerous. It's not hard to see why. You've had gun battles in downtown, for God's sake."

"Just the one," I said."

3.5 out of 5

Shooting At Midnight - Greg Rucka


"I saw what he saw then.

There was never going to be a cadet's handbook or a command or a gold shield all my own. It was never going to happen."

3.5 out of 5

Critical Space 1 - Greg Rucka


"The ashtray didn't surprise me as much as the quality of the throw behind it.

Perhaps when Skye Van Brandt was still in high school, before she was "discovered" and turned into one of People's Fifty Most Beautiful Faces for two years running, before she'd netted two Oscar nominations and one Golden Globe award, maybe she'd pitched softball or even hardball at some point in her youth. Not that her youth was over: the woman on the other side of the hotel room was only twenty-two.

At least according to her publicist."

3.5 out of 5

Patriot Acts 3 - Greg Rucka


"Firing like this—skip-firing—relied on the inherent strangeness of ballistics. Bullets don’t behave like billiard balls. Despite what movies and television portray, they don’t ricochet at perfect angles. This is why soldiers and cops don’t press themselves against walls for cover; if the angle is right and the surface hard enough, the bullet won’t bounce away, but rather will ride along the plane, sometimes as high as an inch or an inch and a half above its point of impact. If you’re leaning against the wall the round is riding when that happens, you can end up with a very nasty, very lethal surprise."

4 out of 5

Walking Dead 1 - Greg Rucka


"Flat run, barefoot, in the forest, in the dark, it took me almost three minutes to cover the distance, and I counted gunshots as I ran. I heard a total of fourteen more, all of them sounding as if spoken by the same weapon. An engine turned as I reached the edge of the dirt road leading to Bakhar’s house, and the car it belonged to was already in gear and accelerating, and the lights hit me. The driver’s response to seeing me, shirtless, barefoot, and armed, was to floor the Land Cruiser and swerve it in my direction.

My answer was to get the hell out of the way as fast as I could, and when I got to my feet again, the car had already shot around the bend, taillights retreating. Miata burst out of the woods, racing in the direction of the house. I went after him. A second Land Cruiser was parked outside of the darkened house, its tail to Bakhar’s beat-up Opel, and I could see three men heading for the larger vehicle. The night stole details, but I saw that two of them were armed, and one of them had a long gun, the distinctive silhouette of an AK, and maybe Miata didn’t care, but I sure as hell did."

3.5 out of 5

Pansy Imprisoned - Andrew Vachss


Burke organises a pound jailbreak.

4 out of 5

Mary Beth Testifies - Andrew Vachss


Putting the sick away.

3.5 out of 5

The Real World - Andrew Vachss


No going back to it, really. Especially not with a bang.

3 out of 5

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sly Mongoose 2 - Tobias S. Buckell


"It cleared as they got closer. Timas slowed just as something hit the top of the cuatetl’s cutter head. He threw his hands up and dropped to the ground as metal shards pelted him.

He waited for the inevitable with his eyes closed, raising his hands and praying to the gods to at least make it a quick and painless death.

Fifteen years, two as xocoyotzin, an honored position in the city and for his family. It had been a good life.

But nothing hit. The debris had stopped."

3 out of 5

Bad Monkeys 1 - Matt Ruff


“It’s a nickname,” she says. “All the divisions have them. The official names are too long and complicated to use on anything but letterhead, so people come up with shorthand versions. Like the administrative branch, officially they’re ‘The Department for Optimal Utilization of Resources and Personnel,’ but everyone just calls them Cost-Benefits. And the intel-gathering group, that’s ‘The Department of Ubiquitous Intermittent Surveillance,’ but in conversation they’re just Panopticon. And then there’s my division, ‘The Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons...’”

“Irredeemable persons.” The doctor smiles. “Bad monkeys.”


“Shouldn’t it be Bad Apes, though?” When she doesn’t respond, he starts to explain: “Human beings are more closely related to great apes than—”

“You’re channeling Phil,” she says.


“My little brother. Philip. He’s a nitpicker, too.” She shrugs. “Yeah, I suppose technically, it should be apes instead of monkeys. And technically”—she lifts her arms and gives her bracelets a shake—“these should be called wristcuffs. But they’re not.”

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gaunt and Bone bibliography - Chris Willrich


Chris Willrich admits he is lame on the website front, but has posted a story list at the forum above.

3.5 out of 5

Dragon Harper - Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey


"“I thought you wanted to be a harper,” Cristov said in surprise.

“Harpers can be dragonriders, too,” Kindan replied with a big grin."

2.5 out of 5

Gentlemen Of the Road 1 - Michael Chabon


"“I’m sorry to report,” the African said, rising to his feet, his head brushing the beams of the sloping roof, speaking in the lilting, bastardized Greek used among the mercenary legions of the emperor at Constantinople, “that my hearing shares in the general decay of the broken-down black-assed old wreck you see before you.”

The African yanked the shard of Arab steel from the table and with it went in search of the Frank’s voice box, ending his quest no farther from the pale knuckle of the Frank’s throat than the width of the blade itself. The Frank fell back, bumping into a pair of Armenian wool factors at whom he glared as if it were some clumsiness of theirs and not his cowardly instinct for self-preservation that had cost him his footing.

“But I take your gist,” the African said, returning the dagger to his boot. On the ostler’s slate the odds began to run heavily against the Frank."

3.5 out of 5

Every Last Drop - Charlie Huston



That's all I can think as I watch them.

The crowd pouring out of the Stadium, tens of thousands cramming out onto River and the Concourse, flooding the street under the 4-train tracks as the trains screech in and out overhead, more people packing the cars sardine tight, tripping up the steps, cascading down into the tunnels, mashing into Stan the Man's, northbound traffic making for the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Triborough stalled out from all the people wandering the street. Drunk and half drunk, ecstatic from a win or enraged from a loss, a blue-and-white pinstriped mass of thousands.

All of them full up.

Each of them enough to keep some sad son of a bitch on his feet for weeks. For months if he has some self-control and knows how to go about his business. Most of them strangers to the South Bronx, never seen more of it than this one subway station or the parking lot and the Stadium itself. Each one full to their pumping heart with quarts of blood.

Any wonder every fucking game brings trouble?"

4 out of 5

Mutant Chronicles 1 - Matt Forbeck


"The skies had been pissing rain for so long that Captain Nathan Rooker was sure God—if there was such a thing—meant the place to be used as His personal toilet. Nathan knew that he’d been warm and dry at one point in his life but couldn’t remember when that had been or what it had felt like. All he knew now was the slick cold of the never-ending rain and the horrors of the everlasting war."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Proving It - Andrew Vachss


Knives, no pretending.

3.5 out of 5

Fireman - Andrew Vachss


Not the right kind.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Variety SF - Tinkoo Valia

Where else are you going to get an extensive Indian perspective on English language SF?

As well as the esteemed Arthur C. - http://arthur-clarke-fansite.blogspot.com/

5 out of 5


Ribbon In the Sky - Murray Leinster

Ribbon in the Sky - Murray Leinster

Got to keep the exogamy going.

3 out of 5

Fighting Man Of Mars - Edgar Rice Burroughs


While this is certainly not one of the most notable Barsoom books - and only has a brief John Carter cameo - something that is somewhat different is the introduction of a female warrior that has to do a bit of the rescuing side of things herself.

The bloke of the piece here of course still gets his licks in versus the usual variety of Martian bad guys and monstrosities.

2.5 out of 5

Dress Up Day - Andrew Vachss


Realistically martial.

3 out of 5

Going Under 1-4 - Justina Robson


"I wouldn’t marry you, elf, if you were the last person alive."


"“I’ll mention it,” Lila said in a very even voice, speeding up her tread to a pace just short of running. “Oh, I’m sorry, I seem to be crushing your skull . . .” She let go."


"How do you tell which ones are—really dead?

Only a necromancer can know, Tath said smugly."

3.5 out of 5

The Stormcaller 1-4 - Tom Lloyd


"“You won’t be an outcast all your life, I promise you that. Do you think I would bother to waste my time teaching you to fight despite what that lot think?” Carel jabbed a thumb back at the wagons following. “These people aren’t like most Farlan. You might never be popular, but the tribe has a use for you, sure enough. I’ve fought side-by-side with your kind, and there’s far worse than your childish temper in the ranks of the Ghosts—men who’d have been hanged years back if they weren’t so happy to be in the front line. You’re all a dangerous lot, but you’ve more of a mind than most and the Swordmasters will see that. Just remember me when you become General Isak.”"

3 out of 5

The Waterfront Wallop - Robert E. Howard


Costigan's dog bites a cop, the crowd goes off their nut, and a yank pretends to be arrested by poms to get Steve's cash. Very amusing.

4 out of 5

Waterfront Law - Robert E. Howard


Costigan's dog bites a cop, the crowd goes off their nut, and a yank pretends to be arrested by poms to get Steve's cash. Very amusing.

4 out of 5

The TNT Punch - Robert E. Howard


Costigan's dog bites a cop, the crowd goes off their nut, and a yank pretends to be arrested by poms to get Steve's cash. Very amusing.

4 out of 5

Callahan's Legacy 1-2 - Spider Robinson


"That evening started out to be a fairly typical night. At least, by the standards of the patrons of Mary's Place--and its owner and chief bartender: myself.

Not that the evening had been uneventful. By eleven o'clock, roughly thirty of us had put away about thirteen gallons of booze...though admittedly something over eleven gallons of that had gone directly from their various bottles and kegs to the throat of Naggeneen, our resident Irish cluricaune, without ever occupying the intervening space. (Like their cousins the leprechauns, and indeed like all the Daoine Sidh, cluricaunes have paranormal psi powers--in their case, the ability to teleport and absorb alcohol--and Naggeneen feels that pouring, lifting and sipping are shameful wastes of good drinking time.) On the bright side, he paid for every drop he drank, cash on the bar, in ancient gold coin so pure it would take a toothmark. And of course, he tended to be a very agreeable drunk, neither pugnacious nor pathetic, neither morose nor manic. I guess a few hundred years of practice must count for something."

3 out of 5

Gun With Occasional Music 1-3 - Jonathan Lethem


"When the Inquisitor's Office set your card at zero, it meant you couldn't get caught slamming the door to a public rest room without sinking into a negative karmic level. The sound of that door slamming would be the last anyone heard of you for a long ti me, or maybe ever. I hadn't seen a card at zero for a long time, and when I had, it was always in the trembling hands of a man about to take the fall for a major aberration.

It was a formality--it said the case against you was all but sewn up, and they were going to let you roam the streets for a day or two more, a walking advertisement for the system. You could try to raise your karmic level helping old blind nanny-goats ac ross streets, or you could go to a bar and drink yourself stupid--it didn't matter. There was a heavy iron door between you and the rest of your life, and all you could do was watch it swing shut."

3.5 out of 5

High Steel 1-2 - Jack Dann and Jack C. Haldeman


"The freebooters were the people who had slipped through the otherwise smoothly running cogs of life in space. They belonged to no nation-state, no corporation, no colony. They came and went as they pleased, selling services and paying for what they need ed, stealing if they could not pay. They were rarely bothered by the officials--in this area the Trans-United Patrol--as long as they maintained a low profile. Over a hundred thousand people lived and worked in space, and the freebooters were an insigni ficant percentage. They moved easily, usually unseen, from the richest condo to the roughest manufacturing complex. If they made waves, they were dealt with, usually by dumping them out into space. Without a suit."

3.5 out of 5

Godspeed 1-4 - Charles Sheffield


"They call the planets the Forty Worlds," he said. We were at the end of a long, leisurely dinner, and between them he and mother were finishing a second bottle of wine. The newcomer's name was Jimmy Grogan, and although he talked mostly to mother I suspect that I was his real audience, for I'm sure she had heard it all before. "But that's true only if you count the Maze as one world," he went on. "If you count the Maze at its true numbers, then our system is more like the Four Thousand Worlds, or maybe the Four Million."

The Maze. Mother's hand was on Grogan's bare upper arm, stroking it where new baby skin was still growing to replace the old scar tissue; but his face stayed worlds away. "There's untold treasure out there," he said, "if only we knew how to find it. I think that's what keeps a man going out, time and again." He sighed, and took a final big swallow of red wine. Suddenly he stared directly at me. "Imagine it, Jay. A great jumble of little worlds, more worldlets than you can count, all with nearly the same orbit, so that a ship has to skim and hop and scamper in the cloud of them, never sure from one hour to the next if there's a collision on the way. But if you dare to stay there in the Maze, and if you are lucky enough to hit the right worldlet, you come home to Erin the richest man in the Forty Worlds system. And you never have to work again."

4 out of 5

Dragon 1-4 - Steven Brust


"Loiosh, my familiar, was just stirring. He gave his bat-like wings one lazy flap, hissed at me sleepily, and said, "How 'bout something to eat?" into my mind.

I said, "Do you remember Deathgate Falls?"

"No. I'm senile. Of course I remember--"

"As you approach the falls, do you remember there being a large statue?"

"Sure, Boss. Where Morrolan performed that embarrassing ritual. What about it?"

"Nothing." Right. The ritual. I had forgotten that, too. I hate having disturbing thoughts before breakfast. I hate having thoughts before breakfast.

"Is it important, Boss?"

"Let it go, Loiosh."

That was then, and it illustrates what a tricky thing memory is: I had forgotten something important that had happened just days before, yet now, more than three years later, I remember waking up and talking to Loiosh about it. Interesting, isn't it?

But here, I've left you, you odd, shiny contraption with presumed ears at both ends, confused about who and what I am, and generally what I'm on about. Okay. I'll let you stay confused a little longer, and if you don't trust me to clear everything up, then you can go hang. I've been paid.

I whipped up a quick omelet, ate it, and washed up, considering whether to ask someone about my odd memory lapse. I'd made two acquaintances recently who might know, but I felt loath to ask them; something about expressing weakness, I suppose. But it bothered me. I was still thinking about it when I'd finished donning my Jhereg colors (grey and black, if you're taking notes) and making sure my various weapons were in place; after which I stepped out onto the street I all but owned.

I don't usually travel with a bodyguard. For one thing, it would be hard to find anyone who could give me more warning of danger than Loiosh; for another I'm not important enough to be a real threat to anyone; and for yet another, it's humiliating. I know that to some in the Organization the number of bodyguards is a status symbol, but to me they are only an irritation.

But I'm different. I wasn't born into the Organization. I wasn't even born into House Jhereg. In fact, I wasn't born a citizen; I'm human. They aren't. This is enough of a difference that it can explain all others."

4.5 out of 5

How Like A God 1-3 - B. W. Clough


"I won't get sick," Rob muttered. There was nothing wrong with him that unloading to Julianne wouldn't cure. All this secret identity stuff seemed utterly juvenile, the power fantasies of little boys. Strength is in partnership, he thought as they left. I can tell my wife anything. And she'll help me. Julianne's such a sharp one, she'll have ideas, give me guidance. The very presence of their minivan in the parking lot was testimony to Julianne's resourcefulness. She had taken emergency medical leave from the association, phoned Miss Linda to set up the twins' care, taken a taxi to Chasbro to get the van, and then driven to the hospital, all without knowing whether Rob was alive or dead."

3.5 out of 5

The Centurion's Empire 2 - Sean McMullen


"Milos was delighted at the prospect. He conducted an experiment with Vitellan, treating him with the oil, then freezing him for five days. Vitellan had insisted that it be for five days, the same period as he had spent adrift on the sea. Milos revived him successfully, and shortly after that Vitellan had bought what remained of the Oil of Frosts and all the Greek's notes. He now set about ridding himself of Flavia by killing her relative to him. He had the Frigidarium built several days' journey to the north, and hired local villagers to maintain it. Finally he pretended to move to Gaul and marry. When word was brought of Flavia's death, he would be revived to come back as his own son. His faithless lover would have lived out her full life and be gone, and there would be nothing left to fuel his obsession with her. Milos was hired as the first Icekeeper, and Vitellan was launched into the one-way river of time.

Something had gone wrong, however. When he was next revived many centuries had passed. Perhaps his steward's successor had betrayed him, and had continued to pay Milos and the villagers to keep the ice chamber functioning long after Flavia died. After a time the payments would have stopped, but the annual gathering of ice had become an important ceremony by then. It had taken a raid by the Danes to break that tradition."

3.5 out of 5

The Billion Dollar Boy - Charles Sheffield


"Actually, Shelby had found the idea of riding the beanstalk to space rather appealing, until he found out how long it would take to reach the cruise liner. The cable cars travelled at what seemed like a reasonable speed, three hundred kilometers an hour. But they had a long way to go. It was thirty-five thousand kilometers to the cruise liner's take-off point from geosynchronous orbit. You would have to sit in one of the unfurnished cars for nearly five days, whereas a laser-boosted rocket from the New Mexico launch site would have you up there in five hours."

3.5 out of 5

Putting Up Roots 1-3 - Charles Sheffield


"No. Autistic. Dawn is autistic. It's not the same as being retarded. I don't think people know quite what it is. Seems like it's one of them words they use for something they don't really understand. They say they understand, but they can't do anything about it. Maybe that will change. You know how scientists are. They tell you something is impossible, like space travel. Then they discover the Node Network, and suddenly it's not impossible at all. I just wish they'd do something like that here on Earth. I wish they'd find a way to help Dawn." Uncle Ryan peered up at the cloudless sky. "At the very least, I wish they'd find a way to make it rain where it's needed."

3 out of 5

The Last Voice They Heard 1-2 - Ramsey Campbell


"This time the breath was measured, and he knew the caller meant to speak. The arm that held the phone was propped on the bedside table, and Geoff used it to hitch himself into a less cramped position. As the newsreader came to the end of the story Geoff's arm began to shiver. He was about to struggle out of the posture in which he'd trapped himself when a voice spoke so close that it felt like part of him. "You didn't stop it, Geoffrey."

3 out of 5

Soma Blues 1-4 - Robert Sheckley


"Not for lack of trying. But you're right, it didn't kill him. The man had been leaving the Argent Cafe in the Square Ste-Gabrielle when the cars came for him. He dived for the gutter. He must have hurt his shoulder, landing like that on the cobblestones, but at least he saved his life. For the moment, anyway. I don't suppose he'd had time to think about the other car."

"It came from the other direction," Fabiola said. "It was a big car."

"A Mercedes 350, I believe," Benet said. The driver must have seen him go under the car. So he put the Mercedes right into the parked car. He must have been going forty kilometers an hour and he went into it headon. I don't remember what make the parked car was, perhaps an Opal. The collision rocked it right up onto the curb. It uncovered the man in the straw hat like taking off a turtle's carapace. Only he didn't have on his straw hat any longer. It had come off when he dived under the car."

3 out of 5

Children Of the Mind 1 - Orson Scott Card


"Had said yes, and now sat in a swivel chair watching him behave crudely, stretching like a tiger in front of her. Was that his beast-of-the-heart, the tiger? Wang-mu had read the Hegemon. She could believe that there was a tiger in that great and terrible man. But this one? This boy? Older than Wang-mu, but she was not too young to know immaturity when she saw it. He was going to change the course of history! Clean out the corruption in the Congress. Stop the Lusitania Fleet. Make all colony planets equal members of the Hundred Worlds. This boy who stretched like a jungle cat.

"I don't have your approval," he said. He sounded annoyed and amused, both at once. But then she might not be good at understanding the inflections of one such as this. Certainly it was hard to read the grimaces of such a round-eyed man. Both his face and his voice contained hidden languages that she could not understand.

"You must understand," he said. "I'm not myself.""

3.5 out of 5

Venus - Ben Bova


"The solid body of the planet may turn very slowly, but Venus' upper atmosphere, blast-heated by the Sun, develops winds of two hundred kilometers per hour and more that rush around the entire planet in a few days. In a way, they're like the jet streams on Earth, only bigger and more powerful.

Our lighter-than-air vessel was in the grip of those winds, zooming along like a leaf caught in a hurricane. We used the engines hanging outside the gondola only to keep us from swinging too violently, otherwise we would have depleted our fuel in a matter of hours. We couldn't fight those winds, we could only surf along on them and try to keep the ride reasonably smooth."

3 out of 5

The Sky Road 1 - Ken MacLeod


"'Sounds like interesting work,' I said.

She nodded. 'A lot of mathematics, a lot of'--and this time she did lower her voice--'programming.'

'Ah,' I said, trying to think of some response that wouldn't reveal me to be as prejudiced as my work-mates. 'Isn't it very dangerous?' I resisted the impulse to look over my shoulder, but I was suddenly, acutely, aware of the massive presence of the hills around the town, their forested slopes like the bristling backs of great beasts in the greater Wood of Caledon.

'White logic,' Merrial explained. 'The right hand path, you know? The path of light.' She did not sound as though the distinction mattered a lot to her.

'Reason guide you,' I responded, with reflex piety. 'But--it must be tempting. The short cuts, yeah?'"

3.5 out of 5

Proxies 4-7 - Laura J. Mixon


""I looked hard until I found some people who are going to change things, who are taking action to help save the planet."
D'Auber was looking at him through narrowed eyes. "Ah. Suddenly I understand. A fanatic. Someone With An Answer."
Daniel shrugged, hackles rising at her sharp tone. "As it happens, I do have an answer."
"And what is that?"
He gazed at her without replying. They had stopped walking.
"I see -- Someone With A Secret Answer," she said. "Devoted to a clandestine cause that will save the world. What group do you belong to? Priority Earth? SYN?"
"You haven't heard of my group. We really are secret. Your father has, maybe, heard of us once in his career."
"Is that a fact? Well, allow me to be blunt. There is serious work being done right now, and eco-terrorist groups like yours only make a mockery of those efforts. I have nothing but contempt for people like you."
Daniel's hands went up. "Look, this is going off on a tangent. You misunderstand me. I'm not a terrorist and I'm not trying to win you to any cause. Your life is in danger.""

3.5 out of 5

Point Of Honour - Madeleine E. Robins


""A very respectable ambiance that is, Sarey." Matt shook his head.

"Unlike the refined precincts of my aunt's brothel?"

"The membership of Tarsio's is ...variable. At your Aunt's, you know the quality of the help--" Matt sketched a bow, "and you know the clientele is impeccable."

"Whereas, I collect, the women at Tarsio's are in the main players, poets, and adventuresses. Entirely unlike myself." Miss Tolerance favored her friend with a tight smile. "There are not so many places in London that a ruined woman may comfortably frequent, Matt. There's no reason for your snobbery. Not everyone can be a whore at Brereton's, and it's hardly fair to hold it against Tarsio's that they admit all sorts of people.""

3.5 out of 5

Greenhouse Summer 1 - Norman Spinrad


"The sad song that the True Blue sang was that despite the
manifest increase of the biomass, the warming had produced more losers
than winners, or at least the losers had lost more than the winners
had won, and that the planet should therefore somehow be restored to
the status quo ante, as God or the greatest good for the greatest
number or the local self-interest intended.
Monique's ramblings through the Lands of the Lost had convinced
her that they at least had a point. The interior deserts of North
America, Asia, and Africa might as well have been another planet, upon
whose surface un-air-conditioned humans could not hope to survive.
What was left of Japan clung precariously to upland earthquake zones.
The Great Mississippi Estuary drowned what had been some of the best
farmland in the world. The entire Pacific Rim festered with refugees
from Polynesia and the Southeastern Asian littoral."

3.5 out of 5

Maximum Light 1-4 - Nancy Kress


"They built for secrecy a decade ago, when they could afford to build at all. Well, they had to. It was right in the middle of the Tipping Point, when the looming financial crisis of the US government wasn't merely looming any more, and the slow worldwide decline in viable sperm suddenly wasn't slow anymore, and the backlash against genetic engineering weren't just theoretical anymore, and the coming bankruptcy of elderly entitlements wasn't just coming anymore: it was all here. Along with the riots and the tax rebellions and the genetic laws and the entire destructive chaos of the Tipping Point, those two painful years before the president use d martial law to restore order. A lot of otherwise unreticent people don't say what they did during those two years. In Washington, some of them used secret tunnels to do it."

3.5 out of 5

Starswarm 1-5 - Jerry Pournelle


"But more than the furries he wanted a Thing. He'd eaten Thing once. It was good, very good. But you couldn't just run up and grab a Thing. They had knives and axes like People, and they had those other weapons that could reach out to kill much further than People could throw an ax. The centaur didn't understand these weapons. The People had only recently learned about bows, and they couldn't use them very well. He knew that Things could kill far away, though, and he knew what the weapon looked like."

2.5 out of 5

The King's Peace 1-3 - Jo Walton


"If I had been armed on horseback I could have taken them all out. Even afoot I could have made a good showing with a sword. Hand to hand I think I could have given one of them a fair match, for all they were full-grown men and I, at seventeen, had not quite all my woman's growth. I was already veteran of ten years training and one brief battle against raiders the year before. I was strong, not just strong for a woman but strong by any measure. These were but common Jarnish ship-raiders, all but untrained in land fighting like most of their kind. They had not spent their childhoods as I had, lifting weights and swinging staves to develop their strength and speed. But here I was alone and unarmed and there were six of them. Worst of all, they had taken me unawares."

3.5 out of 5

Magician's Ward 1-3 - Patricia C. Wrede


"The library? What could a thief want from the library? The silver was downstairs, on the ground floor, and Mairelon's brother didn't keep valuables on display in his townhouse. The whole thing had more of a rum look by the minute. Kim frowned, considering; then a hastily stifled expletive decided her. There was no knowing what this cove was up to. She'd just make sure he couldn't pike off, and then she'd call the footmen.

Silently, she crept down the remaining steps. A cautious look showed the cracksman bent over the end table, peering at the books by the light of the dark lantern. Kim smiled grimly and, holding the handle to prevent the betraying click of the latch snapping into place, carefully closed the library door. Now, if she could just lock it in place somehow . . . But the door had no lock, and there was nothing nearby she could use to jam it. Magic, perhaps? She ran over in her mind the short list of spells she could cast with some reliability. There was one that might do the trick, if she could get it right."

3 out of 5

Ender's Shadow 1-4 - Orson Scott Card


"So did watching as Poke screwed up the plan he gave her. Bean didn't choose her because she was the smartest crew boss in Rotterdam. Quite the opposite. Her crew barely survived because her judgment wasn't that good. And she was too compassionate. Didn't have the brains to make sure she got enough food herself to look well-fed, so while her own crew knew she was nice and liked her, to strangers she didn't look prosperous. Didn't look good at her job."

4 out of 5

The Rock Rats - Ben Bova


"It's the microgravity," Fuchs said earnestly. "It's not good for us, physically."

"I like it."

3 out of 5

The Last Hot Time - John M. Ford


"A woman was sprawled on the back seat. She wore a sapphire-blue gown and a short white jacket. There was blood all over them, and on her short, white-blond hair. Her head rested in the lap of a small man in a dark suit with wide peaked lapels, a silver shirt and a shiny black tie. A broad-brimmed hat hid his face. Danny zipped the kit open.

"Cloud," the man said.

Danny felt a movement past his left ear. He jerked, got something in his hand, turned. There was a white-fleshed, thin man--the elf he had seen in the dashboard light--just beside him, in a blue leather cycle jacket and a long dark scarf. The elf was holding a short-barreled pump shotgun. Its muzzle was what had flicked past Danny's ear.

Danny had automatically grabbed a pair of angled shears, to cut access to the wounds. Its metal was warming in his hand. It looked pretty lame compared to the elf's gun. As if that weren't bad enough, the bent metal made Danny think of Robin, and he'd come up here not to do that anymore.

The suited man looked up. He was black, with a sharp chin and nose, large dark eyes. He said, "You have excellent reflexes, young man. Do you know how to use that equipment?""

3.5 out of 5

Whole Wide World - Paul J. McAuley


"Tall steel poles were planted at intervals along the park's perimeter, coated in gluey grey anti-vandal paint and topped with the metal shoeboxes of CCTV cameras and their underslung spotlights, the cameras linked via RedLine chips to ADESS, the Autonomous Distributed Expert Surveillance System, that watched all London with omniscient patience.

One night in March, I'd seen these same cameras track a fox. The hapless animal had become increasingly frantic as it dashed to and fro, trying to outrun spotlights that fingered the darkness with unforgiving precision, until at last it could run no more and stood still, scrawny flanks heaving, eyes blankly reflecting the glare of overlapping circles of light that briefly twirled around it before snapping off. That's when I'd become aware of something new and non-human at play in the world; an intelligence vast and cold and unsympathetic testing the limits of its ability."

4 out of 5

Issola - Steven Brust


""Brigands, do you think, Loiosh?"

"Brigands come in bands, Boss. Whoever this is, there's only one of him."

"So the Jhereg is more likely."

"Or something else entirely."

I heard Rocza shift, caught the faint psychic whispers of Loiosh telling her to stay still. Just to fill you in on the basics, in case we haven't met before, Rocza is Loiosh's mate, which I'm sure must answer every question you have.

"Coming closer, Boss."

"Do I have a target, yet?"


"Do you have any suggestions?"

"No. But I'm not worried, Boss. I'm sure you'll come up with a plan."

Reptiles are cold blooded; a reptilian sense of humor will naturally display the same characteristics. This, in spite of being hunted and hounded by a massive and murderous criminal society that wants nothing less than the destruction of my soul, is probably the greatest burden I carry."

The Light Of Other Days 12 - Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter


"'Of course we do. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a WormCam that could explore deep space? No more ailing probes, no more missions lasting years ... But the difficulty is that wormholes spanning such large intervals are extremely rare in the quantum foam's probabilistic froth. And stabilising them presents challenges an order of magnitude more difficult than before. But it's not impossible.'"

3.5 out of 5

Kushiel's Chosen - Jacqueline Carey


"I have crossed the wilds of Skaldia in the dead of winder, and faced the wrath of the Master of the Straits on the teeming waters. I have been the plaything of a barbarian warlord, and I have lost my dearest friend to an eternity of lonely isolation. I have seen the horrors of war and the deaths of my companions. I have walked, alone and by night, into the vast darkness of an enemy encampment, knowing that I gave myself up to torture and nigh-certain death."

3.5 out of 5

Blind Waves 1-4 - Steven Gould


"Patricia closed her eyes and groaned. "What was the reaction in the assembly?"

"To the bodies or the vomiting?" Moses was on the New Galveston Assembly, the twenty-nine member council that ran the city. Patricia was his alternate for the Matagorda District.

"Very funny."

"We were discussing the new industrial regs when Sylvia got the download and she interrupted the session. You weren't the only one to throw up, you know. Paul Nagoya messed up his trash can."

3.5 out of 5

Crossroads Of Twilight 1 - Robert Jordan


"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Rhannon Hills. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."

3 out of 5

Dark Light - Ken MacLeod


"The shadow of the unidentified flying object passed over him. Something, not the air and not his own efforts, slowed his descent, at the same time buffetting him as though with invisible fists. He felt, incredulously, that he was actually being lifted. Then the shadow and the strange lightness passed, and he began to plummet again, but now he was able to pull back. At fifty metres above the river he was in level flight, at a speed which a small and cautious upward flex on the controls turned into a shallow climb."

3.5 out of 5

Lord Of Chaos 1 - Robert Jordan


"Pedron Niall was feeling quite good by the time he dismounted in the main courtyard of the Fortress of the Light and tossed his reins to a stableman. Morgase was well in hand, and he had not had to lie once. He did not like lying. It had all been his o wn interpretation of events, but he was sure of it. Rand al'Thor was a false Dragon and a tool of the Tower. The world was full of fools who could not think. The last Battle would not be some titanic struggle between the Dark One and a Dragon Reborn, a mere man. The Creator had abandoned mankind to its own devices long ago. No, when Tarmon Gai'don came, it would be as in the Trolloc Wars two thousand years ago and more, when hordes of Trollocs and other Shadowspawn poured out of the Great Blight, tor e through the Borderlands and nearly drowned humanity in a sea of blood. He did not mean to let mankind face that divided and unprepared."

2.5 out of 5

A Crown Of Swords Prologue - Robert Jordan


"He was a fool. He should have killed al'Thor; he had to kill him. But he could not. Not because the man was the Dragon Reborn, but because he had promised Egwene not to raise a hand against al'Thor. As a lowly Accepted, she had vanished from Cairhien, leaving Gawyn only a letter that he had read and re-read until the paper was ready to tear along the folds, and he would be unsurprised to learn she had gone to aid al'Thor in some way. He could not break his word, least of all to the woman he loved. Never his word to her. Whatever the cost to himself. He hoped she would accept the compromise he had made with his honor; he had raised not a hand to harm, but none to help, either. The Light send she never asked that of him. It was said that love addled men's brains, and he was the proof."

3 out of 5

Beyond the Gate 9-12 - Dave Wolverton


"You mean that different people want to wear different amounts of clothes?" Gallen asked.

"It varies by subspecies of human," the Bock said. "That's mad," Gallen said. "We wear clothes to protect ourselves from the weather."

"You are a Lord Protector," the Bock said, half a question. "The weather is warm. Why don't you take off your clothes? You don't need them here."

"I would rather keep them on," Gallen said. "I need the hood, to hide my identity."

3 out of 5

Finder 1 - Emma Bull


""Hisss," I said. "I drink your blood, Dog Nose."

"No killing," Tick-Tick said, "or Peach won't bring my order. He found my stolen wrench." She told the story with, I thought, less relish than she might once have. I couldn't decide if I felt bad about that or not. Partway through Wolfboy shot me an od d sideways look, as if to suggest that he'd ask for the rest later, from me.

Peach ducked past again. "I set a piece of cheesecake aside for you," she told me, about as fast as the human mouth can move without stuttering, and darted away.

The Ticker propped her chin in her palm and regarded me with bland approbation. "She thinks you're cute," she said. Wolfboy giggled, a terrible thing to hear from a guy covered with fur."

3.5 out of 5

Wildside 1 - Steven Gould


"Halfway through the description, Joey backed out of the stall and began looking around. He climbed up the ladder to the loft but all he found was hay. By the time he lifted the tarp on the table saw and looked beneath it, the other three had emerged from the pigeon stall.

"What are you looking for?" asked Marie.

Joey was frowning, his lips pursed. "A time machine," he said."

3.5 out of 5

The Strike At Shayol Gul - Robert Jordan


Battle plan review.

3 out of 5

Jumper 1-2 - Steven Gould


"I was leaning against bookshelves, my neck free of Dad's crushing grip, my body still braced to receive a blow. I looked around, gasping, my heart still racing. There was no sign of Dad, but this didn't surprise me.

I was in the fiction section of the Stanville Public Library and, while I knew it as well as my own room, I didn't think my father had ever been inside the building.

That was the first time."

4 out of 5

Five Hundred Years After 1-2 - Steven Brust


"To those familiar with our earlier history, it should come as no surprise that the ensign to whom we have just referred is none other than Khaavren, who has now passed his six hundredth year--that is to say, he has achieved an age at which the energy of y outh is lost, but is replaced by a calmness that comes with knowing one's position. In Khaavren's case, his position was at his Majesty's door--or, rather, at the door of whatever room his Majesty happened to occupy--and the centuries of waiting there, a nd making reports to his superiors, and making campaigns against enemies of one sort or another, had, to all appearances, entirely sapped the energy that had been the particular mark of his youth. Or, if not sapped it, at least changed it.

Where he had been wont to make wry observations and loyal outbursts, now, for the most part, he kept the observations to himself, and relegated his outbursts to those occasions when his duties required it (and, as a good officer, his duties seldom require d outbursts). Where he had been quick to bring hand to sword upon any real or imagined slight, now he was more likely to chuckle, shake his head, and pass on. And yet, should anyone be foolish enough to insist on playing, there were, in the Empire, few with whom it would be a more dangerous pastime. Khaavren's wrist was as strong and supple as ever, his eyes were as sure, and his body still as limber. If he had lost, perhaps, the rash exuberance of youth, he had gained far more in his knowledge of the science and art of defense."

4 out of 5

Beggars and Choosers 1 - Nancy Kress


"How will you be sure it's her? If they're using both cosmetic and electronic disguises, she could have different features, hair, even brain-scan projection all masking her own."

"True. But their heads are slightly misshapen, slightly too big. That's hard to disguise."

I knew that, of course. Everybody did. Thirteen years ago, when the Supers had first come down from Sanctuary, their big heads had given rise to a lot of bad jokes. The actuality was that their revved-up metabolism and altered brain chemistry had cause d other abnormalities, the human genemod being a very complex thing. Supers are not, I remembered, an especially handsome people.

I said, "Their heads aren't that big, Colin. In some lights it's even hard to tell at all."

3.5 out of 5

Seventy-Two Letters - Ted Chiang


Foetal experiment orders named.

3.5 out of 5

Shoggoths In Bloom - Elizabeth Bear


Prehistoric mutant master replacement martial decision.

4.5 out of 5

Qlone - Rudy Rucker


Not decohered or shot.

3 out of 5

Computer Entertainment Thirty-Five Years From Today - Bruce Sterling


That Sterling is a bit past it at 89 apparently - here' some cool stuff though. Even old.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, September 22, 2008

Prodigal Son - Lewis Shiner

Prodigal Son - Lewis Shiner

Lost boy carny.

3.5 out of 5

The Killing Season - Lewis Shiner

The Killing Season - Lewis Shiner

Dan Sloane knew getting involved with the wrong woman would end badly, but maybe not this badly.

3.5 out of 5

Dirty Work - Lewis Shiner

Dirty Work - Lewis Shiner

Rape revenge case torch.

3.5 out of 5

Deep Without Pity - Lewis Shiner

Deep Without Pity - Lewis Shiner

Dan Sloane finds contractor corruption triangle.

3.5 out of 5

Buyin' My Heartaches A Beer - Lewis Shiner

Buyin' My Heartaches A Beer - Lewis Shiner

Didn't kill her, really but forked the guy who did.

4 out of 5

The Short Unhappy Career of Lew Shiner Tough-Guy Writer - Lewis Shiner


On a mag killing mystery character. Stories are at the Fiction Liberation Front too.

4 out of 5

Confessions of an Ex-Cyberpunk - Lewis Shiner


Short article from the early 90s.

3.5 out of 5

The Quiet War 1 - Paul J. McAuley


"One of the boys, Dave #8, looked for that little flash of blue every day. Sometimes he wondered if his brothers looked for it as well, wondered if they too felt a yearning tug for the world they had been created to defend yet could never visit. He never talked about it, not even to his best friend, Dave #27. Things like that, feelings that made you think you might be different from your brothers, you kept to yourself. Difference was a weakness, and every kind of weakness must be suppressed. Even so, at the beginning of every day Dave #8 anticipated the fugitive glimpse of that scrap of Earth's sky, and every time he saw it he felt a flutter of longing in his heart.

Their lectors and instructors recited the Pledge of Allegiance, too. Fathers Aldos, Clarke, Ramez and Solomon in their white, rope-girdled habits; the instructors' faces floating in the visors of the man-sized, man-shaped plastic shells of their avatars. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it was instructors for ecosystem management, engineering, and sociology; the rest of the week it was theory of war, psychology, economics, and Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin, and Russian -- the boys were already fluent in English, the lingua franca of the enemy, but some enemy communities still used the languages of the homelands of their ancestors, and so the boys had to learn those, too.

The instructors taught theoretical classes in the morning and the lectors taught practical classes in the afternoon and evening. Maintenance and repair of pressure suits, construction and deployment of demons and data miners, vehicle and flight simulators, immersion scenarios that acquainted the boys with every aspect of everyday life in the cities of the enemy. They practised martial arts, bomb-making, and sabotage, and trained with staffs, swords, knives, and every other kind of blunt and bladed weapon. The practise versions were weighted so that they would find the real thing easier to handle. They learned to strip down, repair, and use firearms in all kinds of conditions. In the dark; in a centrifuge that buffeted them in every direction; in extremes of heat and cold and combinations of rain, snow, and high winds in the weather chamber. Sealed in their pressure suits. Underwater."

4 out of 5

Sticks - Lewis Shiner

Sticks - Lewis Shiner

Crazy singer.

3.5 out of 5

Perfidia - Lewis Shiner

Perfidia - Lewis Shiner

Missing musician mystery.

4 out of 5

Fear Itself - Lewis Shiner


Getting out the money thing entirely.

3.5 out of 5

Fractal Geometry - Lewis Shiner


Just writing, all the way down.

3 out of 5

Sitcom - Lewis Shiner

Sitcom - Lewis Shiner

What show?

3 out of 5

Authors At Google - Neal Stephenson


Talk centred on the novel Anathem.

4 out of 5

Authors At Google - Charles Stross


Talking in a Halting State.

4 out of 5

Authors At Google - Joe Haldeman


Talking about The Accidental Time Machine.

4 out of 5

How The World Became Quiet A Post-Human Creation Myth - Rachel Swirsky


Just about any kind of men.

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good Country People - Flannery O'Connor


Give me my leg back you bastard.

3.5 out of 5

The Rocking-horse Winner - D. H. Lawrence


Lucky punt breakdown.

3.5 out of 5

How Love Came To Professor Guildea - Robert S. Hichens


Parrot punishment.

3.5 out of 5

A Rose For Emily - William Faulkner


Dead hair find.

3.5 out of 5

Schalken the Painter - J. Sheridan Le Fanu


Lost Rose.

3 out of 5

The Mutant Weapon - Murray Leinster

The Mutant Weapon - Murray Leinster

Calhoun and his handy pet Murgatroyd have to face a group using plague as a planetary conquest tool.

4 out of 5

Med Service - Murray Leinster

The Mutant Weapon - Murray Leinster

Calhoun and his handy pet Murgatroyd have to face a group using plague as a planetary conquest tool.

4 out of 5

Bum's Rush - Andrew Vachss


Us targets in the game now.

3.5 out of 5

Step On A Crack - Andrew Vachss


Basher showdown.

3.5 out of 5

Mad Dog - Andrew Vachss


Well trained feeders.

3.5 out of 5

Lynch Law - Andrew Vachss


Sucked and hooked.

3.5 out of 5

Cain - Andrew Vachss


Bloody dogbeaters, very.

4 out of 5

Dead Game - Andrew Vachss


Last dogfight.

3.5 out of 5

Two Swordsmen Of Mars - Otis Adelbert Kline


Something a little different here - Planet Stories publisher Erik Mona has taken the time to compare the apparently completely bastardised and butchered first part of this book with the actual original serial - which is much, much longer.

4 out of 5

Tornado Of Sparks - James Maxey


Baby reason, dragon-style.

3.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rabbit Tricks - C. E. Murphy


Brer Rabbit finds the kid is a little honey.

3.5 out of 5

Urban Shaman - C. E. Murphy


"He twisted around yet again. "You're trying to rescue somebody you saw from an airplane?"

"Yeah." I flinched as he twitched the steering wheel to keep in our lane, again without looking. "What do you do, use the Force?"

He glanced at the road and shrugged before turning around again. "So, what, you've got a hero complex? How the hell are you gonna find one dame you saw from the air?"

3.5 out of 5

The Concrete Puppy - Andrew Vachss


Cross, for dog murder.

3.5 out of 5

Plague On Kryder II - Murray Leinster

Plague on Kryder II - Murray Leinster

Spreading this shouldn't be a job.

3 out of 5

Untitled - Neil Gaiman


Gross fetch.

3.5 out of 5

Kids - John Langan


Making the dinner grade.

3.5 out of 5

Robert E. Howard and the World Of Almuric - Joe R. Lansdale


On the adventures of Esau Cairn and Edgar Rice Burroughs blowing the top of his head off.

4 out of 5