Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Geeking Out About Swords With His Mongoliad Co-Authors - Neal Stephenson

"At some point, perhaps after a rousing round of bashing each other with canes, the group started tossing around a concept for a movie — one that, as Stephenson puts it, "would essentially take the tropes of martial arts movies and move them over whole to medieval Europe. If you see a movie set in the East and you see a couple of guys fighting, there's a huge foundation of knowledge and myth that you've got in your head. You know that they're not just making this up: each one of these guys has spent years practicing specific, very highly sophisticated techniques that have names, and give them much greater ability to fight than someone who doesn't have them. That doesn't have to be discursively explained to the audience. But if you see a couple of knights square off, they're doing this kind of HUHHH! — ksssh! — thing..." The group played with the movie idea for a while, but then they got sidetracked by a question about some of its backstory — specifically why it was that the Mongols, having already flattened Eastern Europe, didn't press onward into Western Europe after the death of Ögedei Khan in 1242. The answer they devised was that a small crew of European warriors, or whatever the European equivalent of samurai would be, came up with the inevitable dangerous but cunning plan." 3.5 out of 5

Interview With - Madeleine Ashby

"L.R.R. vN opens with a beautiful family scene between Amy and her parents; her vN mother Charlotte, and her human father Jack. They have a healthy normal family life. I realize this is a loaded question, but do you think this is a possible future for humanity – mixed couples of one human partner and one synthetic/humanoid partner? M.A. David Levy, the author of Love and Sex with Robots, would certainly say so. He’s an expert on artificial intelligence, primarily with regard to programming chess games. I’m sure there are plenty of commonalities between sex and chess, but not being a chess player I wouldn’t know them. For my part, I think there are already people who would embrace a mixed organic/synthetic life. One thing I tried to make clear about those relationships in the novel is that they’re what happens at the end of the line. When you’ve been hurt and betrayed by your fellow humans too many times, when you’re just too tired of looking, when you realize you have a very particular fetish no random individual could reasonably be expected to satisfy, when you’re just done with the whole dance — that’s when vN come in." 4 out of 5

Osiris 1-11 - E. J. Swift

"Two weeks later and here she was. From the alcove, she watched the guests circulate, half eavesdropping on their conversations. The whispers made her angry. Axel had been whispered about for too long. Adelaide’s mother had chosen her candles and arranged them in small clusters on every table. Even grouped together like that, the flames they emitted seemed frail. Viviana sat at the head of one table as if she were holding court, but the glass at her elbow was untouched and she displayed no interest in conversation. A pocket-sized version of the photograph eventually designated inappropriate lay on the table in front of her. From the briefest of glimpses, Adelaide knew that this had been taken some years back. The directness of Axel’s gaze was a shocking memory. A curious mix of people had come. There were a few wild cards—she noticed Zadiyyah Sobek, head of the electronics corporation, chatting to one of the family Tellers—but most were her father’s crowd, either politicians or other venerated family members. They had split into cliques. The Dumays, of Veerdeland extract, occupied one corner. The Ngozis, descendants of the Pan-Afrikan Solar Corporation, whispered in another. Adelaide’s father and brothers worked the rooms, careful to acknowledge every guest. The Rechnovs traced their own roots to the Sino-Siberian Federation. At its conception, the City of Osiris had attracted the world’s most brilliant minds, rich and poor, from the northern hemisphere to the south. Looking at the assembled congregation, Adelaide felt that there was little evidence of that intellect visible today, and particularly amongst the Councillors. With their upright carriage and pinched expressions, they were easy to spot. Some of them wore the formal session surcoat over their suits, the sweeping garments giving them the appearance of doleful bats doused in cherry juice. Linus and Dmitri had already established themselves within the illustrious hallmark of the Council Chambers. Linus’s personal mission was to convert his sister. He liked to dangle words like future and ramifications under Adelaide’s nose, fish on a hook she never bit. As a Rechnov, even a renounced fourth gen one, Adelaide retained the respect, prominence, and wealth afforded all of Osiris’s founders: this was her inheritance. But she had her own name now. Adelaide Mystik. She had her own set, too. They were known as the Haze. A few of them were here, distinguishable by their roving butterfly wariness and adherence to fashion. Beneath cloche hats, the girls’ lips were matte in red or mulberry. Their diamond-patterned legs shifted as they tested standing in one spot, then another. The boys, usually so at ease, loitered self-consciously amongst the Council members and founding families. Adelaide saw Jannike, one of her oldest friends, bend over to say something to her mother. Viviana did not glance up. A smattering of reporters completed the parade. Some of the krill journalists had attempted to glam up their shabby hemlines with a belted coat or a hat, but nothing could disguise their insidious manner. Perhaps it was the proximity of these conflicting factions as much as the event itself that produced such an air of uncertainty. A Councillor bumped into a socialite and both parties blushed and fell silent, alarmed by the prospect of conversation. Under other circumstances, Adelaide might have found the interaction comical. Her part had been clearly appointed." 4 out of 5

Alexander Outland: Space Pirate 1-23 - G. J. Koch

" ur jump cleared and the pressure against our bodies let up. “You can let go of me any time,” Slinkie snarled. Her mouth was against my skin. “Mmmmm.” I wondered if I could hit the reverse coordinates with my foot. Another seven minutes like this and I could die a happy man. “Nap. No joke. Let me go or I’ll bite you.” “I knew you’d finally come around.” “I’ll bite you at the point where it’ll kill you.” “Your words say ‘let me go’ but your body says ‘Nap, you da tomcat’. My Great-Aunt Clara always said that the words themselves were only about seven percent of the communication. So, I’m going to listen to your body. It wants me, and it has the other ninety-three percent going for it.” Slinkie put her teeth against a spot I knew actually could kill if she bit hard enough. “I mean it.” It’s hard to say that sentence with your mouth open and your teeth against someone’s neck. I certainly was after feeling her do it. “Just bounce a little bit while you bite me. I think I’ll die happy that way.” Sadly, before Slinkie could either bounce or bite, the alarms went off, big time. You don’t survive in space by being slow to react to an alarm. Slinkie was out of my arms and off my lap in a second, I was monitoring shields and navigation, Randolph was checking hull, engine and drive integrity. “Sensors show nothing, Nap,” Randolph said. “I have nothing, too. Everything looks right, we’re where we’re supposed to be according to computers.” We all looked out the windshield. Three hundred years of space travel, and somehow, we still called them windshields. Or maybe it was only me. Anyway, nothing. Of course, I’d made sure we weren’t landing in any planet’s airspace, so we should’ve been seeing nothing. But we were seeing nothing that would cause alarms to go off. Which was a lot more unsettling than seeing something. “I’m going to Weapons,” Slinkie said. She dashed out. Her voice was on the com in less than a minute. “Scanning for hostiles.” I waited, counting down. Sure enough, in less than twenty seconds, a different voice came on the com. “Alexander, what in the galaxy is going on?” A quavering, peevish, authoritative voice. The Governor never missed his cues, even if I wanted him to. “And why aren’t we on Thurge? I was looking forward to the baths. You know how I love the mineral baths there.” “Yes, sorry, Governor. Had a little problem, had to leave. We’ll find you a mineral bath somewhere else.” “Why do you let him stay?” Randolph muttered. “Because it was my fault he got deposed.” It wasn’t wholly my fault, but it had been enough of my fault that I’d felt guilty. And the old guy wasn’t so bad." 4 out of 5

Monday, May 28, 2012

Entertainment Is Fiction's Purpose - Edgar Rice Burroughs

"THE fiction writer should read most anything but fiction. He should be able to find entertainment in every form of sport, whether he is able to take an active part in it or not. He should enjoy a variety of games and other activities that keep his mind young and supple. Please remember that I am speaking only of writers of highly imaginative fiction; concerning the others I know nothing. But the fiction writer to whom I refer should be what my two sons call monkey-minded—that is, have the tendency to caper erratically through the forest of human knowledge, swinging form tree to tree, tasting the fruits of many." 3.5 out of 5

Hawksbill Station - Robert Silverberg

Hawksbill Station - Robert Silverberg
The authorities have come up with an unconventional but effective way of controlling dissidents. Send them back a billion or so years into the past. A bit hard to escape from there, really. When a new prisoner is sent back, the current top dog, an aging main with a recent serious injury has to try and hang onto his life, and work out what is up with the new guy. 3 out of 5

CBR Sunday Conversation - Greg Rucka

"Your newest novel, "Alpha," was just released. Having read an advance copy of the book, it feels like the first of a planned series. There is a three-book arc that this is the first part of. I'm undecided as to how final the ending of the third one will be. There may be more with these characters or characters related to them beyond that, but right now, "Alpha," "Bravo" and -- right now we're calling the third one "Charlie", though that may change -- are a three book cycle, and ideally fairly self-contained as a result. Hopefully they'll be easily accessible as well. There's not a whole lot of continuity. I think the first book of a series you can come in and everything should be there. Jad as a character is pretty fully formed when you meet him, and clearly he has a body of experience and skill to justify the story in "Alpha." But he's got a journey to make. I'm working on the second one right now and the third one will test him even more than the second one does." 4 out of 5

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Little Harmless Kalikimaka - Melissa Schroeder

Multiple gifts. 2.5 out of 5

Little Harmless Fling - Melissa Schroeder

Bartender butch. 2 out of 5

Wizardry Compiled - Rick Cook

Beat the bad guys - then they want revenge and you have to try again. Life for a computer nerd in fantasyland is tough. 3.5 out of 5

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Daron's Guitar Chronicles 01 I Love Rock and Roll - Cecilia Tan

"Doug snorted. “You gonna lend him some spandex, too? Or maybe just a sock?" 4 out of 5

Know Your Elder Gods - Darrell Schweitzer

"“All my tales,” H.P. Lovecraft famously wrote to Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright in 1927, “are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large. To me there is nothing but puerility in a tale in which the human form – and local human passions and conditions and standards – are depicted as native to other worlds or other universes. To achieve the real essence of externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good or evil, love and hate, and all such attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all. . . . If I were writing an ‘interplanetary’ tale it would deal with beings organized very differently from mundane mammalian, and obeying motives wholly alien to anything we know upon earth – the exact degree of alienage depending, of course, on the scene of the tale; whether laid in the solar system, or in the utterly unplumbed gulfs still further out – the nameless vortices of never-dreamed-of strangeness, where form and symmetry, light and heat, even matter and energy themselves may be unthinkably metamorphosized or totally wanting. I have merely got at the edge of this in ‘[The Call of] Cthulhu,’ where I have been careful to avoid terrestrialism in the few linguistic and nomenclatural specimens from Outside which I present.” 4 out of 5

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Portal Plague - Dinesh Rao

Rangoli solution alternate worlds shutdown stay. 3.5 out of 5

Words Beyond the Veil - Ian Sales

Death metal alien artefact network translation post-mortal communication trip. 3.5 out of 5

Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

Orphan kid improves situation. 2.5 out of 5

Wizard's Bane - Rick Cook

Computer programmer ending up in magical fantasy has to learn to adapt and put his talents to use. 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spawn of the Comet - Otis Adelbert Kline

Or, flying tentacle jellyfish replicating from space. 3 out of 5

MacHassan Ah - Talbot Mundy

Engineering and fighting and sorta English. 3 out of 5

Curran - Ilona Andrews

The bloke's side of the story. 3.5 out of 5

War Killer Children and More: An Interview with - Paolo Bacigalupi

"Paolo: I was interested in political failure here in the U.S. The way we’re failing to work together to solve even our smallest problems, let alone the complex ones. We seem to have a fascination with deepening our political schisms for the sake of short-term partisan gains. Connected to that, I was interested in how our political punditry are rewarded monetarily to also deepen those hatreds. People like Rush Limbaugh are paid a lot of money to dump bile on his political opponents and to encourage his followers to do the same. For Rush, it’s a $38million/year business. That’s a powerful financial incentive to keep deepening our political dysfunction. At some point, you have to ask the classic science fiction question “If this goes on, what will the world look like?” For me, that looks like a civil war in a nation that long ago forgot how to plan or solve complex problems like global warming, or peak oil, or financial ruin, that are sweeping down on us." 4 out of 5

The Malignant Entity - Otis Adelbert Kline

Skeleton professor eaten by creation. 2.5 out of 5

Fathers and Sons - Ilona Andrews

Of beatings of and beatings by partners, a la Curran. 3.5 out of 5

The Soul of a Regiment - Talbot Mundy

Just the bloody colours. 2.5 out of 5

Wirgman's Theory - Rafael Sabatini

Tracked down. 2.5 out of 5

A Thousand Deaths - Jack London

Poison, electricity, freezing, all worth a shot. 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sword of Islam - Rafael Sabatini

Dragut the pirate leader suffers a few setbacks. 3.5 out of 5

Wake of the Bloody Angel 1 - Alex Bledsoe

"I picked up the chain. A locket hung from it, but I didn’t open it. “Nice jewelry,” I said. “A little pricey for a regular sailor, though. Was he a pirate?” “Not when I met him. But later…yeah.” Pirate. That was not a word I liked to hear. Back in my mercenary days, I’d crossed both paths and swords with the so-called “brotherhood of the surf,” and the thing that stuck with me most was the smell. Granted an army-for-hire that had been in the field for a while was no bouquet of roses either, but the odor of these sea vermin–a mix of sweat, salt, fish, and blood–impressed me with its organic rankness. They seemed a separate species, governed by laws so arcane and labyrinthine that even looking at one of them risked sparking a violent confrontation. I avoided them whenever possible." 3.5 out of 5

MIND MELD: Is SF Still The Big Idea Genre? - J. P. Franz

"In fact, those people who are doing the “big visionary ideas about the future” SF are mostly doing so in a vacuum of critical appreciation. Greg Egan’s wonderful clockwork constructions out of the raw stuff of quantum mechanics, visualising entirely different types of universe, fall on the deaf ears of critics who are looking for depth of characterisation, and don’t realize that in his SF the structure of the universe is the character. On Hannu Rajaniemi’s brilliant The Quantum Thief — I have yet to see a single review that even notices the fact that this is the first hard SF novel to examine the impact of quantum cryptography on human society. (That’s a huge idea, but none of the reviewers even noticed it!) And there, over in a corner, is Bruce Sterling, blazing a lonely pioneering trail into the future. Chairman Bruce played out cyberpunk before most of us ever heard of it, invented the New Space Opera in Schismatrix (which nobody appreciated for a couple of decades, until Al Reynolds built a pyrotechnic career atop a more accessible parallel vision of its Mechanist/Shaper future), co-wrote the most interesting hard-SF steampunk novel of all, and got into global climate change in the early 90s. He’s currently about ten years ahead of the curve. If SF was about big innovative visions, he’d need to build an extension to house all his Hugo awards." 4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Whippleshield Books a guest post by - Ian Sales

"I didn’t intend to set up my own small press. I had this science fiction novella which I thought was good enough to be published, but every small press I approached had a couple of years’ worth of material scheduled. I didn’t think a magazine would publish the novella because it has an extensive glossary – and the glossary is important to the reading experience. And, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced editors would actually like my novella. I hadn’t written it in a science fiction mode… though it’s set in an alternate 1980s, is about astronauts stranded on the Moon, and makes use of an unexplained Nazi “Wunderwaffe”. But it’s not the sort of science fiction you see each year on the Hugo and Nebula shortlists. Besides, my novella was also the first of a quartet, and I’d sooner have sold all four as a single package… even though I hadn’t written the other three." 4 out of 5

Turbulence - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Flight now scary.

3 out of 5

Q&A with Sci-Fi Writer - Chris Roberson

"Q: Further: Beyond the Threshold blends humor, space opera, and hard science. What stories inspired you to combine elements that are often not brought together in one book? A: My tastes are fairly catholic, in the sense that I like a lot of different kinds of things, and the stories that I tend to enjoy the most are those which combine as many different interests of mine as possible. So it’s only natural that those are the kinds of stories that I tend to write, as well. Most of my work, both in prose and in comics, tends to combine and blend elements of multiple genres and subgenres. As for the decision to include humor in the mix, I guess I just like it when things aren't always quite so serious and dour!" 3.5 out of 5

The Server and the Dragon - Hannu Rajaniemi

Made for each other. 3.5 out of 5

Footvote - Peter F. Hamilton

Footvote - Peter F. Hamilton
Exodus rules. 4 out of 5

Guardians of the Dawn - William King

Kill orcs, trolls, worse monsters - and stupid humans that don't believe innocents and torture them. 3.5 out of 5

Death's Angels - William King

In a world with a couple of sentient races - The Terrarchs and humans a soldier and his mates (one Barbarian, one Weasel) end up part of a group trying to help an ancient sorceress stop a crazy sorcerer from summoning a spider entity worse than an Elder God. To add to the slightly Lovecraftian bits they also have a musket level of technology. 3 out of 5

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mercury Theatre: Orson Welles Meets - H. G. Welsl

Discussion between the two re: War of the Worlds and Citizen Kane.

4.5 out of 5

Alpha 1 - Greg Rucka

"Mario Vesques was sure he was going to make it, right up until he saw the knife in the dog's hand.

He had no idea where the blade came from; what he did have was just enough time to realize he was in trouble, and then the cartoon animal was lunging at him in a way that Vesques recognized, had seen before, but yet couldn't immediately place. Only as he got his left forearm up for a cross-block, felt the tip of the knife nicking skin as it split his sleeve, did it click.

Modern Army, as taught at Fort Benning, Georgia, courtesy of the United States Army; and through the adrenaline rush he saw the irony that he and whoever was wearing the Pooch suit shared the same pedigree. The absurdity of it all—Vesques in his maintenance coveralls and this man in his dog suit, right paw missing to reveal a Caucasian hand and the blade it held—that they had shared, at some point, the same masters, perhaps the same history, perhaps even the same instructors. That they might've, somewhere, sometime, stood together as brothers in arms."

4 out of 5

The Rush of the Wind and the Roar of the Engines and the Call of the Open Road - Lavie Tidhar

Transforming a Hasbro planet.

3.5 out of 5

Going Under - Brian Keene

There's a monster out there kids.

3 out of 5

The Age of the Warrior - Hank Reinhardt

The Age Of the Warrior - Hank Reinhardt
Ducal, grey, but still deadly.

3 out of 5

On Existence Google’s Project Glass and the transformative power of science fiction - David Brin

"AG: At the centre of EXISTENCE is the discovery on an alien artifact – leading to First Contact. You’re an active member of SETI and have written non-fiction on the “Fermi Paradox” or Great Silence – the question of why we seem to be alone in the cosmos. Was writing EXISTENCE perhaps a way to explore this paradox through fiction?

DB: It’s the Big Question. There are billions of stars older than our sun. Many sapient species may have preceded us by eons and at least a few should have left clear signs of their passage. Why does the sky seem so empty of voices, then? Why was Earth apparently never visited? (And we would know, if it had been.)

Does something “filter” down the numbers? Just in the last brilliant decade, we’ve learned that planets are common and life seems likely to erupt almost anywhere with molten water. So what makes us rare? Intelligence? Technology? Or the fact that we figured out how to advance a bit, without nuclear war? The range of possibilities is daunting. I tried to give most of them a nod . . . amid a much broader plot about our near future."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: Episode 08 - Warren Ellis

"Legendary comics author and novelist Warren Ellis joins me on The DisinfoCast for a conversation about the future that was, artificial intelligence, the Singularity, aliens (ancient and otherwise), the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, porn and even a little bit about comic books. Tune in."

4.5 out of 5

The Clown Killer - Jeff Mariotte

Makeup poison.

3.5 out of 5

Creeping Hemlock Press Team Up to Kickstart New Horror Magazine - John Joseph Adams

"Tell us how the idea for Nightmare Magazine came about.

In June 2010, I launched Lightspeed Magazine, an online magazine that focused exclusively on science fiction. In March 2011, I took over as editor of Fantasy Magazine, an online magazine that focused exclusively on fantasy. It was around that time that I first started thinking about launching a horror magazine as well. While editing both Lightspeed and Fantasy, I often came across stories that were horrific in nature, and while I did publish a fair number of those, I did encounter a number of stories I thought were great, but felt like they would be more appropriate to publish in a horror magazine.

My desire to edit a horror magazine also stems from my experience working as an anthologist; my biggest success in that realm has been in horror, with my anthology The Living Dead, which came out right around the time the zombie craze was cresting. Many consider it to be the definitive zombie anthology, and it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. I also did a vampire anthology called By Blood We Live, then a sequel to The Living Dead (The Living Dead 2), and many people consider my post-apocalyptic anthology Wastelands to be horror. All of them—especially The Living Dead—sold very well, but other than those three (or four) books, all of my other anthologies have been science fiction or fantasy. Ever since I edited those books, I've wanted to find a way to keep my fingers in the horror market—and a magazine seemed like great way to do so."

4.5 out of 5`

Monday, May 14, 2012

Results - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Results - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Child breeding decisions.

3 out of 5

Sunday, May 13, 2012

SFFWRTCHT Interview – Author Michael F. Flynn

"SFFWRTCHT: How much and what type of research do you typically do before writing or as you write?

MFF: One of the features of the Spiral Arm series is the future and blending of various cultures, so one of the things I research is different languages. There are a couple I can handle myself. For others, like Tamil or Arabic, I rely on friends and acquaintances. For still others, like Ibo or Hungarian, I have grammar books and vocabularies in my library. So I’ll look up words and so forth, then apply some phoneme shifts. The same goes for personal names and such.

For the science and technology, I rely on speculative science articles, such as those by Dr. John Cramer in Analog. That was where I read about Krasnarov tubes – subway tunnels in space – and some noodling around would give me a bit more detail. I was also receiving summaries of technological announcements by various research groups, which is where I learned about self-repairing materials, invisibility cloaks, and so forth. Most of this research was not done specifically for any particular book, but was gathered magpie-like in passing and kept in a notions box in the back of my head."

3.5 out of 5

Talks 2312 and saving the planet - Kim Stanley Robinson

"How would you introduce 2312 to someone unfamiliar with your work? What kind of ideas sparked it off?

I guess I would say it is a science fiction novel set in the year 2312, which attempts to give a portrait of human civilization at that time, which is postulated to be complex, and spanning most of the solar system, while still very much centered on Earth.

The idea that sparked it had to do with the central story, a romance between two people, one from Mercury, the other from Saturn (with matching personality traits). I needed a solar system-wide culture to make it possible for people to be living in those two places, and it grew from there."

3.5 out of 5

Incompatible - Will McIntosh

Power places wrong.

3 out of 5

Tricentennial - Joe Haldeman

Tricentennial - Joe Haldeman
SETI success spurs space dwellers to sneaky space mission.

4 out of 5

Friday, May 11, 2012

Grim Tides 08 Meet Elsie Jarrow - Tim Pratt

"“Her name is Elsie Jarrow,” Dr. Husch said. “She is easily my most troubled patient.”

Nicolette gave a long raspberry, spraying spittle. “Please. She’s so far beyond ordinary notions of sanity that calling her ‘troubled’ is like calling cancer psychopathic.”

“If cancer were sentient,” Dr. Husch said, “it would be psychopathic. Speaking of cancer… I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Jarrow’s body died some months ago. She was absolutely riddled with tumors – she had been more cancer than clean flesh for years, of course, but her own mastery of chaos magic kept her physical form in more-or-less working order. Unfortunately… she tried to escape, as I think you know, this past winter, and she expended the last reserves of her power when she attempted to break through the wards on the Institute’s walls. She had precious little strength left for life support, and couldn’t control her own decay. I was unable save her physical form.”"

4.5 out of 5

Houseflies - Joe Pitkin

Whipping up some cloned swallow hearts.

4 out of 5

Exisence The Shelter of Tradition - David Brin

"As for the rest of visual reality, the textures, colors and backgrounds? Well, there were a million ways to play with those, from covering all the building walls with jungle vin, to filling the world with imaginary water, like sunken Atlantis, to giving every passerby the skin tones of lizard-people from Mars. You name it, and some teenager or bored office worker or semi-autonomous cre-AI-tivity drone must have already fashioned an overlay to bring that fantasy cosmos into being.

Mei Ling wasn’t trying for any of those realms. Instead, she tried simply stepping up through the most basic levels, one at a time — first passing through the Public Safety layers, where children or the handicapped could view the world conveniently captioned in simple terms, with friendly risk-avoidance alerts and helpful hands, pointing toward the nearest sources of realtime help."

3.5 out of 5

The Prisoner of Zenda - Anthony Hope

Ruritania royalty-napping decoy diversion shenanigans.

2.5 out of 5

Tom Sawyer Abroad - Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn fail to go Around the world In Eighty Days.

3 out of 5

Champion of Mars The Last War of Tsu Keng - Guy Haley

"Tsu Keng saw the pilot in both worlds: as he was now, a Martian bred for the rigours of combat space flight – squat, heavy featured, dense bones, thick muscle, internal organs protected by fluid sacs and strengthened by encysted smart gels – and as he was in the Library, a flickering mass of faces, of histories, one laid over the other, a line of personalities stretching back to the dawn of this era. Permissions and activation whispers swarmed from Krashtar Vo, to interface with the ship’s own Second World self. Tsu Keng’s soul was different, monolithic. Not for him the psyche-clouds of the human Martians, or the choirs of the spirits, whose co-operative subminds made up a greater whole. Tsu Keng’s material and psychic self were indivisible. He was made for one purpose, and desirous only to serve that purpose.

Tsu Keng lived to fly, nothing but to fly."

4 out of 5

The Heroes 1 The Times - Joe Abercrombie

"‘Too old for this shit,’ muttered Craw, wincing at the pain in his dodgy knee with every other step. High time he retired. Long past high time. Sat on the porch behind his house with a pipe, smiling at the water as the sun sank down, a day’s honest work behind him. Not that he had a house. But when he got one, it’d be a good one."

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back To the Stone Age - Edgar Rice Burroughs

A fun Pellucidar entry with a lost Van Horst well into the primitive now, complete with dinosaurs and a mammoth he helps out, cannibals, pteranodons and more fun. Warlord fans should be entertained by the influence in this one with the feisty relationships, escapes and splitups.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Quest Fellow Blues - Richard Morgan

"“Well, now.” Shendanak made a show of examining his nails – it was pure court performance, something he must have picked it up on the long climb to wealth and power back in Yhelteth. It made Egar want to crush his skull. “Getting a bit precious about our campaigning in our old age, aren’t we Egar? Tell me, did you really kill that dragon back in the war? I mean, it’s just – you don’t talk much like a spit-blood-and-die dragonslayer.”

Egar bared his teeth in a rictus grin. “You want a spanking, Klarn, right in front of your men? I’ll be happy to oblige. Just keep riding me.”"

3.5 out of 5

Monday, May 07, 2012

Brutal Women - Kameron Hurley

Okish ccience fiction collection, some related to her longer work.

Brutal Women : The Women of Our Occupation - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : If Women Do Fall they Lie - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Holding Onto Ghosts - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Wonder Maul Doll - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Genderbending at the Madhattered - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : My Oracles at the End of the World - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Once There Were Wolves - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Canticle of the Flesh - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : In Freedom, Dying - Kameron Hurley
Brutal Women : Women and Ladies Blood and Sand - Kameron Hurley

Big bad brutal bitches.

3 out of 5

Vessels to Kell.

3.5 out of 5

All terrorists.

3.5 out of 5

Tag and bag her.

3 out of 5

Painting forms.

3 out of 5

Barrel of witches, King for a while.

3 out of 5

Wolf Lady spared, unfortunately.

2 out of 5

Strange body archive.

3 out of 5

Thornbug kill go.

3.5 out of 5

Child murderer go.

3.5 out of 5

3 out of 5

Women And Ladies Blood And Sand - Kameron Hurley

Child murderer go.

3.5 out of 5

In Freedom Dying - Kameron Hurley

Thornbug kill go.

3.5 out of 5

Canticle of the Flesh - Kameron Hurley

Strange body archive.

3 out of 5

MonitorBot and the King of Pop - Jessica Barber

Thriller, with exoskeleton.

3.5 out of 5

The Centurion and the Rainman - Lou Antonelli

Magic society kid messing.

3 out of 5

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan

Bloke gets caught up in spy plot and hence extended chase.

3 out of 5

Friday, May 04, 2012

Miles Errant - Lois McMaster Bujold

A two-novel omnibus.

Miles Errant : The Borders of Infinity - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Errant : Brothers In Arms - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Errant : Mirror Dance - Lois McMaster Bujold

Undercover recover uprising bustout.

3.5 out of 5

Cousin clone kill.

Miles has problems on most fronts. The Cetagandans are none too happy with his escapades. His conservative opposition is none to happy with his escapades. He has a clone brother that wants to kill him. As far as I remember, I think he had enough clean undies and socks to go around though.

A spot of survival and reconciliation is in order.

3.5 out of 5

One deadsicle, one schizo.

Mark impersonates his brother to take the Free Mercs off on a liberation mission. A bit of an understatement to say this doesn’t go well. The original version is killed and frozen, and Mark is tortured until his not so stable personality fragments into many.

The M & M show has to someone get out of this and wreak some havoc on bad Barons.

3.5 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

Young Miles - Lois McMaster Bujold

A two-novel omnibus.

Young Miles : Warriors Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold
Young Miles : The Mountains of Mourning - Lois McMaster Bujold
Young Miles : The Vor Game - Lois McMaster Bujold

Disabled kid masters military and manipulation.

Miles Vorkosigan is a teenager afflicted with fragile bones and other physical problems because he mother was poisoned when he wasn’t born yet.

Living on a gung-ho must look pretty for the part military world is a problem given he is a noble type.

A combination of military sf of the more Ender’s Game or Phule’s company variety than kill ‘em all space marines, and period romance, which gets rather tedious at times when that part is overdone.

3.5 out of 5

Infanticide investigation experience.

3 out of 5

Graduation is a cold experience.

Just out of the academy, and not the most popular preson with the conservative types, Miles get a crappy job in a remote polar location. He very soon gets into trouble via a murder, which he is accused of. Also, the young emperor has bailed in space. Miles has to get himself out of trouble and also do something about the missing royalty, with the odd dangerous woman and space war thrown in just to keep him on his toes.

3.5 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

Miles Mutants and Microbes - Lois McMaster Bujold

A two-novel omnibus.

Miles Mutants and Microbes : Falling Free - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Mutants and Microbes : Labyrinth - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Mutants and Microbes : Diplomatic Immunity - Lois McMaster Bujold

An engineer sets out to help the Quaddies.

3 out of 5

Werewolf nookie rescue.

3 out of 5

Miles and spousal unit deal with a problem on Graf station in Quaddiespace.

3 out of 5

3 out of 5,%20Mutants%20and%20Microbes/Miles_Mutants_and_Microbes.htm

Diplomatic Immunity - Lois McMaster Bujold

Miles and spousal unit deal with a problem on Graf station in Quaddiespace.

3 out of 5,%20Mutants%20and%20Microbes/Miles_Mutants_and_Microbes.htm

Falling Free - Lois McMaster Bujold

An engineer sets out to help the Quaddies.

3 out of 5,%20Mutants%20and%20Microbes/Miles_Mutants_and_Microbes.htm

Cordelia's Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold

A two-novel omnibus.

Cordelia's Honor : Shards of Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold
Cordelia's Honor : Barrayar - Lois McMaster Bujold

Butcher bad boy bit of a babe.

A survey ship captain from a pretty decent planet, gets into trouble and her crew is attacked, and she gets knocked out. Waking up she finds she is left with a bloke with a very unsavoury reputation, Aral Vorkosigan of Barrayar.

Secrets, lies, politics and spies from thereon in, with, given this is a romance type series, her of course falling for the guy she is left in trouble with.

3 out of 5

Countering coup.

Aral and Cordelia are married, and when the current bloke in charge carks it, he gets left in charge. All is not well however, as political opposition stages a coup, with leads to their damaged in the womb by poison attack son’s environment being taken away, and the pair forced to go on the run and see what they can work out to set things write.

As the regent’s wife, the more liberal Cordelia will have a changing effect on the Prince’s upbringing compared to the status quo.

3 out of 5

3 out of 5's%20Honor/index.htm

Miles Mystery and Mayhem - Lois McMaster Bujold

Omnibus of a couple of novels with a short story.

Miles Mystery and Mayhem : Cetaganda - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Mystery and Mayhem : Ethan of Athos - Lois McMaster Bujold
Miles Mystery and Mayhem : Labyrinth - Lois McMaster Bujold

Dead Empress divestiture.

Miles gets sent to the boring duty of going to an Imperial funeral. Some people would also be happy if he didn’t come back, of course, given he has been sent to Cetaganda. Miles of course manages to get involved with a mystery into the bargain, helping out one of the local military, and eve gets a medal for his trouble. A medal from this bunch doesn’t really endear him to the locals much, either.

3 out of 5

Manhome loses some girl bits.

A scientists investigates the disappearance of some reproductive material from the titular planet, one which is completely populated by males. In the course of his investigations he meets a woman from that Vorkosigan related bunch, the Dendarii Free Mercenaries. Being a spook of sorts, she is rather useful, especially when kidnapping and dodgy bounty hunters is involved.

3 out of 5

Werewolf nookie rescue.

3 out of 5

3 out of 5,%20Mystery%20and%20Mayhem/index.htm

The Big Idea - Paolo Bacigalupi

"When I started writing The Drowned Cities, I hadn’t planned to write about politics. Typically I write about environmental issues such as global warming or energy scarcity or GM foods, but as I was working on the book, our increasingly divided political dialogue and government paralysis intruded.

These says, I can’t help noticing how much time we spend busting unions in Wisconsin or warring over contraception in universities, or checking people’s citizenship papers at traffic stops, while our geopolitical situation and future prospects change for the worse. As I’ve watched this dysfunction deepen, I’ve started to consider other aspects of where we might be headed."

3.5 out of 5

The Darkest Shade of Grey 4 - Alan Baxter

"‘David, shut up. I don’t want to hear you talk like that. You may be a useless occultist drunk, but I don’t want your death on my conscience.’ Just like the old Stella.

He smiled in spite of himself. ‘Yeah, I’m just sayin’. I’m worth a lot more dead than alive.’"

3.5 out of 5

Apache Devil - Edgar Rice Burroughs

The sequel to the War Chief is perhaps a bit of an improvement. Set in the time when the US government and military was severely limiting Geronimo's options our protagonist is one of the warriors who refuses to succumb to the booze or other temptations. Also manages the cross-cultural with Wichita Billings after a major misunderstanding.

3 out of 5

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Revenge of the Robot - Otis Adelbert Kline

Poison gas and theft in competition.

2.5 out of 5

Agent For Murder - William Campbell Gault

Turkish cigarettes and oil.

3 out of 5

Arsene Lupin In Prison - Maurice Leblanc

Sure you'll help me get out of here.

3.5 out of 5

Man-Eaters! - Edgar Rice Burroughs

"These two incidents might lead one to the erroneous belief that lions are cowardly animas and far from dangerous. They are very dangerous beasts, and far from cowardly. A few years ago a shot was being made at the old Selig Zoo in Los Angeles. The lion was supposed to leap from a platform onto a man dressed in some kind of skins. I do not know why a dummy was not used. It seemed impossible to get the lion to leap from the high platform; so a device was rigged up wherewith a current of electricity could be shot through the lion after he was in position on the platform. It was a splendid idea, and it worked to perfection. The lion leaped onto the man and killed him."

3.5 out of 5

Writing the Fantastic Story - Otis Adelbert Kline

"The problem of how to get my hero to Venus bothered me not at all, for I had been reading about the marvelous powers of the subjective mind: of telepathy, that mysterious means of communication between minds which needs no physical media for its transmission, and which seems independent of time, space, and matter. I haven't the space to enlarge on this here, but can refer you to the thousands of cases recorded by the British Society for Psychical Research, if you are interested. There was also the many cases of so-called astral projection, recorded by the above society in a volume called Phantasms of the Living. My hero, therefore, reached Venus by the simple (try it) expedient of exchanging bodies with a young man on that planet who was his physical twin. He reported his adventures on Venus to an earthly scientist, Dr. Morgan, by telepathy."

3.5 out of 5

Death Ray Interview - Stephen Baxter

From 2007:

"GH: What attracts you to alternate history?

SB: I’ve always been interested in history for as long as I have been interested in science, and then alternate history is the different possibilities and the contingency of everything. I mean, you look back in your own life and see how things could have been different if you’d made a different choice – like meeting your wife for the first time, if you’d stayed at home that day things would have been entirely different. The present is as contingent as the future.

And the notion of the past as well is very interesting. I mean, trying to write my way into Liverpool of 1962, it’s like an alien planet, everything’s different. I think the mobile phone especially is a huge disjunction between the present and the past, I expect 1985 was a lot more like 1962 than now, just because the phones and other communication technologies have changed everything about the way we live."

3.5 out of 5

Jungle Girl - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Another Burroughs jungle adventure with a bit of a twist. This time the not so competent character is the lost white guy - although that improves enough to make the Cambodian princess interested as he manages to be clever enough to survive. A little more sophisticated than some of the other non-Tarzan jungle adventure variety.

3 out of 5

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Land of Hidden Men - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Another Burroughs jungle adventure with a bit of a twist. This time the not so competent character is the lost white guy - although that improves enough to make the Cambodian princess interested as he manages to be clever enough to survive. A little more sophisticated than some of the other non-Tarzan jungle adventure variety.

3 out of 5

A High Stakes Game - Crista McHugh

Of werewolf hookup trying not to get blood sucked.

3 out of 5

The Black Stiletto's Autograph - Raymond Benson

Coming in out of the rain for a drink.

3.5 out of 5

On Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Series - Winn Scott Eckert

"The Wold Newton series will have several different “sub-series,” encompassing:

mainstream Wold Newton novels
Wold Newton Prehistory novels
Secrets of the Nine: Parallel Universe novels

Titan is also publishing several of Farmer’s standalone novels, which don’t fall under the Wold Newton umbrella, as the Grandmaster Series."

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Bandit of Hell's Bend - Edgar Rice Burroughs

Local mine owner has daughter with many marriage offers - and a problem that he is continually being robbed. Wrong guy blamed who has to get the right guy and the girl of course.

2.5 out of 5

Cont PW Talks With - Alastair Reynolds

"LP: You’ve praised a book I’m unfamiliar with, Bruce Sterling’s Schismatrix—can you talk a bit about it and how it impressed you?

AR: I’m in danger of saying too much about it. It’s a wonderfully dense and imaginative slice of space-based SF, dealing in the grandest of themes. It was the first cyberpunk space opera, with an imaginative boldness almost unseen in the field beforehand. A reviewer at the time described the book as feeling as if Sterling had been to the future and come back to report on what he’d seen. That captures very well the feeling of off-hand weirdness and stone-cold plausibility running through the thing. It’s dated in only very minor ways since 1985: the characters record things onto tape, there’s no real sense of virtual or augmented reality. But in every other respect, it’s still ahead of the game."

3 out of 5