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5/23/17 6:31 P

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Void Star (Hardcover) by Zachary Mason

Quite the ride! I have not read this author before, and am quite glad I have now. His near future society is well created, with more than a few dark twists and turns. And also some fun happening along the way. We have an ensemble cast that we are never quite sure about. And they seem to interact with each other in the strangest of manners.
The characters are a bit distant and disjointed, as is the storyline. Yet in some improbable manner it just works. Our characters each seem to be a bit more, and also less than human, and the story is so much better for it. Each person has to come to some understanding of who, or what they really are. And it these dispute journeys that end up linking them all together that makes the plot so intriguing.
Read it and wonder how human you really are.


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5/13/17 12:49 P

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The Stars Are Legion (Kindle Edition) by Kameron Hurley

Truly one of the most imaginative books I have read lately. When you read the blurb, and see the phrase "World Ships", you might think of Star Wars type Death stars and the like. You would be wrong. Instead the author weaves a narrative of biological construction where everything and everyone are a part of the whole. This includes pregnancies and giving birth, and life and death and everything in between. (Oh, except that it never includes us Y Chromosome carriers?)
The various journeys are all very hard fought, and not just on a physical plane. Our heroes are also our villains. And they live, and die and live again. It's the last journey that means so much. Read this book and be, at turns, sad, happy, disgusted, joyful and more. It's not an easy book to read, but well worth it!

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5/7/17 6:25 P

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Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie

This is where things get really strange! New characters, old hatreds, galactic greed and old rivalries, oh my! Which emperor will show up and what is going to happen?
Our friends have their backs against the wall, and it doesn't look good, to say the least. This time our hero must depend on other humans, and ai's to get the job done. but that's not easy when no one can beastly depended upon, and loyalties are not clear.
This novel wraps up the action, but leaves so many questions unanswered. The trilogy touches upon many different questions and issues, which could be endlessly debated. However, as she has observed on more than one occasion, you just put one foot ahead of the other and keep on walking.
I hope that we get to come back to this universe at some point, I really want to see what other stories we have waiting for us!

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5/7/17 6:18 P

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Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie

Second in the trilogy, and continues apace! We get deeper into our hero, and also her conflicts with the Emperor, Humans and AI's. Our hero continues down a path that is certain to draw attention from the wrong people, but here sense of justice is uncompromising. I think she is beginning to become human, in spite of herself, or her wants and needs.
The characters drive the plot, and the result is very well done!


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5/7/17 6:13 P

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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie

The first of three novel in this series. A very worthy read and very involving as well. I really liked that the main character is not quite, or maybe more than, human! I especially enjoyed her various difficulties in coming to terms with who, or what she really is. And also her coming to terms with her relationships with those around her, whether AI or Human, she just doesn't quite fit.
I won't spoil the plot, you just need to read it!

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4/24/17 11:19 A

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Six Wakes (Paperback) by Mur Lafferty

Definitely a great read! The story starts out with a lot of chaos, and a lot of mystery, and a lot of death, and blood and ick. Our heroes are also left with no memories of the past 25 years, and so they each struggle to discover who killed them all. Plus each of the crew has some truly terrifying inner demons. Or is that daemons?
Every time we get a little deeper into the mystery of who among us killed us all (here's to a new life by being your own clone!) each of the six crew members also sheds a bit of the mask that keeps their own, unique, evil at bay.
The story is very well crafted, and the writing is tight and to the point. The concepts and idea that are touched upon here make for some very interesting reading indeed. You will want to pick this one up. And you won't want to put it down until you are finished with it!

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4/20/17 12:34 P

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The Fortress at the End of Time (Paperback) by Joe M. McDermott

What a strange journey. This missive takes the shape of a confession, albeit a rather rambling and disassociate one? Our hero is his own worst enemy. And his actions have the opposite effect of what he wants. He's sent to the ass end of humanity's exploration, fresh out of War College, to a dismal and depressing post.
His military carer starts out on a bad note, and continues from there. He has no real friends to speak of, and his love life is a sham. No wonder he wants out.
As for the writing itself, this book is written quite well. Depressing, but well written. In the form of a confession, our hero attempts to lay his should bare, but even he can't see what is to obvious to everyone else. So I think that explains the lack of chapter breaks, which I understand, but didn't approve. Overall a worthy read, but a bit of a challenge.

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4/15/17 3:04 P

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New York 2140 (Hardcover) by Kim Stanley Robinson

Wowzers what a book! So well written, and oh so timely! Interestingly enough, you could say that the city itself was a character in this book, always there, lurking about, changing constantly and yet always the same.
then you get to the real characters, and what a set of characters it is! We get to live thru several different stories, and from several different view points. The writing is at it's best when these stories collide, and interweave, then separate again.
Who really drives the storylines? Were the characters really in charge, or were they reacting, or trying to be proactive? Well, yes... and no. That's the fun of this tall tale set in the sort of near future. As someone who has gone to NYC a handful of times, I enjoyed the geography, and history (both past and future) and the many different ways that NYC is NYC.
Some fun technical hiking combined with some basic character flaws, and oh yeah let's try to not get dead along the way make for a great book!
Go read it now, you will thank me later!

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4/3/17 1:17 P

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The Atlantis World (The Origin Mystery, #3) by A.G. Riddle

A good finish to the trilogy! Fast paced and plenty of action (as per usual). Plus you finally get the answers too all those nagging questions. Character driven plot, and also a few new friends along the way. If you have read the first two books, then yes, you need to read this one!

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3/30/17 1:47 P

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The Atlantis Plague (The Origin Mystery, #2) by A.G. Riddle

A worthy second book in the trilogy. It did, however, stumble about a bit in the first few chapters. But the author found his stride and kept on from there. The characters are all a bit one dimensional, but it keeps the black hats and white hats at bay. I was hoping for some more character development, but giving the timing, and pace of the book, I can understand why they are not more complicated.
And yes, this continues to be a character driven storyline, and also we delve a bit deeper into the SciFi parts of the story. Whereas it is true that a bit of cliche does happen, I kept turning the electronic pages as fast as I could to find out that happened next.
So, if you have read the first novel in this trilogy, go ahead and read this one too!

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3/26/17 3:01 P

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The Atlantis Gene (The Origin Mystery, #1) by A.G. Riddle

This is the first book in the trilogy, and the author's first book as well. So, it started out kinda clunky, and also relied on some clipped plot stuff. That said, about 1/3 of the way thru, the author hit his stride, and the storylines and the writing were much improved.
The plot lines seem to weave in and out of each other, and there are some fun, and not so fun, twists. Yes, the characters are rather predictable, and so are some of the plot contrivances. But the pace is quick, and so you keep turning the page to see what happens next.
There is a fair amount of facts in this fiction, so that helps when the story is decidedly fantastical. The plot lines are driven by the various characters, and the white hats and black hats are squared off against each other. But by the end of the book, things have taken some quite unexpected twists, and turns, and so you race to find out how it ends. A nice way too spend the day indeed! And now on to discover what these folks have in store for the next book!

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3/24/17 12:05 P

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Seven Surrenders (Terra Ignota, #2) by Ada Palmer
With the author's narrative style that harkens back to the 1800's, but set in the 2450's, this book was a bit challenging to read. Also, with all of the intricacies of the *many* various relationships, and interrelationships, and curlycues, and details and such... Yeah. Mostly I had forgotten all that stuff since reading this book's predecessor Too Like The Lightening.
Of course the many characters drive the plot(s), but what, or who, drives the many characters? And our humble narrator Myles does a brilliant job of being as obscure with whatever he feels is the truth, at that moment, to really make things clear as mud. Most of the time. Also a penchant for the littlest detail to be observed while ignoring the main point of the interaction seems to be a driving point?
So, yes I read it, but it took me until way past half the book for it that universe to click in again, as it is so dependent upon the first. And, of course, there will be yet another one. Which I probably will read too.

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3/17/17 6:49 P

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Infinity Engine (Transformation, #3) by Neal Asher

ZOMG! Neal Asher takes us to the very edge of space and time in the conclusion to his Transformation series. Let me tell you what, I think I need a cardiologist after reading this book! It was nonstop, pulled no punches, took no quarter, and held no prisoners!
This is a thick book, but with all of the many subplots involved, it had to be. If you have read the first two books, then you understand why. When you drop a rider into the Polity universe, the reader finds that this is indeed a huge epic, writ large. The characters are each complex and many layered. And yes, they do drive the plot. But they also drive each other (In more ways the one!), and bounce off of each other, and interact with, and annoy, and so on and so forth.
I thought it very well done that in this final epic, Penny Royal (the erstwhile antagonist and protagonist) of the previous books is almost a minor character? Well, as "minor" as she could be? At least until the very satisfying conclusion. I also was pleased that in a space and time where AI's and aliens, and all manner of things can be done, it was a (not so) simple human that had to make a choice. And what a choice he made!
Make no mistake, I right now (in some part of the Polityverse) rolling over and lighting one up! Yes, it was just that good!

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3/8/17 2:19 P

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The Last Humans: The Complete Trilogy (Kindle Edition) by Dima Zales

It appears that I was in a YA orbit for a bit? Not that I mind, sometimes the YA titles have less contrivance and actually a better distilled plot. And since I read this as one story, as opposed to the three books, I'll just do one review. In short, the three novellas make a very coherent whole.
The storyline runs along in a fast paced manner, and the characters do the driving, albeit very cleverly hidden until the end. And the journey of our heroes raises many interesting questions along the way. Just how does one create a Utopian Society, especially if it's built upon some very major lies? And what happens to this culture when things go awry? Also, lets make sure that all AI's are branded as Evil Incarnate, yet we base our little world on technology? And can a lonely misfit AI and a real boy fall in love? Oh, and let's not forget about some other issues like murder, political intrigue and slavery.
Oh yes, this is quite the ride. And both of our heroes have a lot of oh so painful growing up to get on with along the way. It is a quick read, but I like the straight forward plot and the convolutions needed. Pick up, or download a copy and get cracking!


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3/2/17 3:16 P

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Home (Binti, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor

The second of three (or more?) novellas (or are they short stories?) in this series. Binti has to come back to Earth, with her new bff, and former enemy. What this does to her family is predictable, and tragic. How it happens is why you want to read the book. Also, the author does such a wonderful job of bringing the African desert, and cultures, into these book! Yes, it is a YA title, but don't let that stop you, the journey is certainly worth the read!
My *only* complaint is that the ending stops before it should!!

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3/2/17 3:09 P

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Binti (Binti, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

Sometimes you *can* judge a book by it's cover! I bought this, and the sequel, based on never having read a book which featured a young girl from Africa on the cover. And what a delight this is! Binti is a girl on a journey. She is very much on a journey on many levels. And her journey, while taking her far from the tiny home she has grown up on, also takes her to some very interesting places as she oh so painfully discovers that she has to grow.
Don't the YA category fool you, her pain is as real as it gets. And so is her journey. So go along with her, and discover some of the wonders for yourself!

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2/27/17 5:55 P

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Way Station (Paperback) by Clifford D. Simak

Written in 1963, this novella is as timely and relevant as ever! Maybe even more so with the recent politics around the world.
Our hero, Enoch is truly a simple man. But not simple minded in any way, shape or form. Can you imagine the agony of being darn near immortal? And also the pleasure of getting to know hundreds of alien visitors? And just how do you keep to yourself?
The book is a short read, and the writing style is not the slap bang style of the early 21st century. It harkens back to a time when thinking was a valuable commodity. And morals were not to be messed with. Yes, the plot is predictable, but it's the telling of the story that is so moving.
No wonder Simak was the very first "Grandmaster"!

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2/25/17 5:15 P

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The Wall of Storms (The Dandelion Dynasty, #2) by Ken Liu

Okay fearless readers, guess what? Your truly actually read Wall of Storms before Grace of Kings! Yes, really. So I'm just going to say that you need to read both!! Hopefully in the right order, ha!

So, go read the books. Do it now! And wait for the hat trick!

Oh yeah, I've decided that the level of engineering in this series should be called "Bamboo Punk"!

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2/17/17 7:14 P

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The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty, #1) by Ken Liu

To be clear about this book, I absolutely loved it! This is not my typical Hard SciFi read, but rather a very deeply involving Fantasy. Yet the fantasy elements are kept at a minimum, and set against the very realistic history and stories of the many characters. And yes, make no mistake, the characters do indeed drive the plot(s).
This is decidedly not a quick, easy read. On my Kindle White Paper, it didn't show me how many pages the story entails, but I imagine the a hardback would be a rather mighty tome. That said, the story that make up this first of three novels, takes it's time to unfold and unfurl.
I'm sure that some folks would not care for parts of the dialogue, as it seems to be needlessly wordy. However, I think that those characters are speaking from what they consider to be a position of learning, and erudition. Not that all dialogue is stilted and formal, no sir.
But as any epic (and this is an Epic) tale takes it due course, the subplots do come together, and then fall apart, then are weaved back together skillfully.
I heartily recommend this novel, and am about to start the second one. I just hope Mr. Liu can hurry up and finish the last one soon!


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2/4/17 4:34 P

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Central Station (Paperback) by Lavie Tidhar

What a fun ride! I truly loved this book! It's not your typical hard SciFi, so not a lot of action and rollicking around. Oh yes, there is action, and rollicking, both in thee physical universe, and the cybersphere. But this more driven by characters who all seem to be much more, and less, than they appear. Thereis a certain feeling to his book, that you are watching some many different lives as their stories unfold. and there is an innate interconnectedness that you don't see done quite so well elsewhere.
It's a quick read, but all the more thought provoking for it. When we are done, we really want to stray a bit longer and see what comes next!

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2/1/17 4:28 P

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A Heritage of Stars by Clifford D. Simak

This was written in 1977, but really is a classic. It has a feel that goes back to the Golden age of SciFi. I like that the story doesn't hurry, but rather takes it's time to develop. Yes the characters are mostly one dimensional, but each of them adds in a unique way.
This is a sort of travelogue of going across the Midwest of America, in a far future where anything and everything technological has been thrown down. Our hero finds some unlikely companions along the way, but they each prove their worth, if in some ways you don't expect.
It is a quick, fun read. Enjoy! =)

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1/30/17 5:47 P

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Immortal Shadow (Heroes of Distant Planets #3) by Anderson Atlas

I was asked by the author to read, and then post a review of this book. Since it was free on the kindle, I did download and read it. And this is my honest review of the book.
I gave it three stars, but that was a gift. Yes, it's short story so the characters area one dimensional. The plot is quite predictable, and the aliens really aren't all that alien. Happily the story is just under 80 pages, so you won't invest much more than a quick afternoon to read it. Also, the author relies way too much in alien sounding names of* whatever* items.
All that said, it basically read as a High School term project from Creative Writing. However, if the author does continue to write (and I hope he does) he shows a lot of potential to one day turn out a story worth reading.


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1/28/17 5:09 P

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Tangled Up in Blue (The Snow Queen Cycle, #4) by Joan D. Vinge

First of all, even tho this the forth book written, it the first book in the entire series! Yes, it's a prequel! Don't shudder, it's not a prequel in the style of Star Wars, and there is no Jar-Jar Binks.
Ir is a very worthy introduction to the entire Snow Queen epic cycle. And it is set just prior to the that book. Carbuncle is the same mysterious city of wonders and delights. And we have a motley crew of natives and of worlders in residence. Gundalinhu, and PalaThion are working for the Blues. As is Tree and Staun. This would be the beginning of the Gundalinhu and PalaThion team, but she is side lined for most of the book. Instead, we meet Tree, his brother Staun, and some more merry pranksters wearing the uniform of the Hegemonic Police.
Eventually, Tree and Gundalinhu must set aside their own built in prejudices against each other's cultures (Honor versus Loyalty) and grudgingly work together, or die.
So, yes, you can guess where the plot is going in many ways, but it's the clever way that Vinge has of getting us there that keeps you flipping the pages. The pace is tight, and so is the writing. She manages to develop the new, and familiar, characters in her own, interwoven fashion.
you will want to read this if you have read the other three books. And if you haven't read them, read this first!! You will thank me later!

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1/27/17 2:06 P

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The Summer Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #3) by Joan D. Vinge

Overall a very worthy read! Fun of twisty character driven plot, and interactions. And this book does a very good job bringing the various subplots together at the end of this cycle of books.
It is a large book, and part of that is due to the tendency of the author to get into some melodrama, soap opera style romance. While I like the added dimensionality to the various characters, there were more than a few times when I got bored of that artifact as well. Happily, those soap opera interludes are not so heavy handed, nor so numerous that I couldn't just skim a bit, then get back to the story at hand.
A good conclusion to this series, and still very relevant to this day and age.

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1/10/17 6:27 P

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World's End (The Snow Queen Cycle, #2) by Joan D. Vinge

Fist, before I actually review the contents off this novella, I have to ask why it isn't available on kindle? Both Snow Queen (it's predecessor) and Summer queen (it's successor) are offered via digital. I had downloaded both of the other titles, and so then discovered (much to my joy) that this was available! But, alas, only thru Third Party Sellers on Amazon? I wonder if this title never got the publicity of the other two? Or maybe it's a tangential story between them.
Having read, and muchly enjoyed, the Snow Queen, I World's End (The Snow Queen Cycle, #2)
by Joan D. Vinge enjoyed this novella. I suppose you could call it "More Hells for Gundhalinu".
He evacuated away from Tiamt, and into an even more lawless backwater of a planet. And here he truly does go to Hells, and even manages to lose whatever self respect, and sanity, he may have held on to. Make no mistake, this story belongs to him. And his incredible struggles against forces known, and unknown, which make him question the worth of his past, present and future.
But his abject self honesty, and rigid self discipline both must be mettles under a very fiery crucible indeed.
You can read this book in a day, but at the end of that day, you will know that it was the well spent.

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1/9/17 11:40 A

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Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe (ebook) by Mike Massimino

One of the better astronaut memoirs I have read. Mass takes us along on his journey, from the Bronx, to the Hubble. He doesn't pull any punches, and the story reads as if you were sitting with him, and sharing a beer.
He has a high level of frustrations along the way, but that's also how he got there! His love of his family actually propelled to do his best as an astronaut, then later to step back.
And his description of the last Hubble surviving mission will have you on the edge of your seat!
A worthy read indeed!

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1/6/17 1:53 P

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Ocean of Storms (Paperback) by Christopher Mari

Meh. Seems like the authors spent some time reading everyone else's books, and decided to mash them together really? Actually, this reads like a made of tv movie from the last decade.
Everything, and everyone is more or less your stock in trade present day SciFi. The characters are all flat, and no one shows any real change or growth. The plot is rather predictable as well.
That said, it had at least enough action to hold my interest to get too the end. Which by the way was even more predictable and less fulfilling that the rest of the plot.
I gave it three stars, but that was being generous.

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1/5/17 4:28 P

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The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1) by Joan D. Vinge

A 2001 reissue of the novel from when it was first published. Sort of loosely based on the old fairy tale, but really a fine novel. Amazing that the issues dealt with in this book, we are *still* dealing with today?!
I very much enjoyed the journey of the main characters, and how the author pulled no punches. The characters are all caught up in a cycle that they didn't choose, but must deal with. A very non-typical end of the world as we know it, and also a very strained love story (or is that stories?). No, it's not a Romance book, and yes it does have a few tiny elements of Fantasy.
all in all a well done book, and I'm looking forward to the next one!

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12/30/16 1:39 P

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Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S.A. Corey

What a ride! This is the 6th Expanse novel that you have been looking for. Lot's of Science to go with the Fiction, yay! And, in fact, the science really does play a major role in this series. Which is only one of several reasons why I have enjoyed this series so very much.
Also, this book really brings the Belter "patois" (their word) lingo to life in a natural manner. And savvy that "braunschweiger" (my word) does a good job of bringing you into the thought process of the individuals using it, sa sa?
I'm not going to bother either one of us with the plot, except to say that it is well crafted and makes sense! And yes, it is driven by the characters. There are no real new characters in this wrap up (there, I said it), but everyone you know and love (or love to hate) becomes more complex, and has to painfully grow though a variety of truly miserable situations.
Some of the folks exhibit some different expressions of their selves, which is a delight that the authors didn't just stick to "This character does this, and that character does that." Rather, each character tries to remain true their own set of morals, in light of some very amoral decision making by the bad guys.
But there also the folks that have to make some very painful, profound personal choices. And that makes this book, and series, become so alive! I know that his book seems like the end of a series that I have been in love with for years... but maybe not?

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12/18/16 5:32 P

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The Liberation (The Alchemy Wars, #3) by Ian Tregillis

A very well done conclusion to this trilogy of amazing books! I very much enjoyed how the long story was drawn out. It came teasing, and bumbling, and madly dancing to it's own set of clicks and clacks and other less mechanical music. There is no shortage of characters here, and each has a well crafted story. How they intertwine, and what happens to them is what makes this such a well done story!
I really wasn't certain how things would end, and whether the truly mad and horrifying Queen Man would actually destroy, or enslave, the soft squishy humans... or not?!
The book finishes on a great conclusion, and one truly worthy of all the heroic, and also not so noble characters. The story does a great job of interweaving these complex people (some of whom are human, some of whom are not) into a richly textured tale. And, of course, when you are done, you still want more. Which is the hallmark of a story well told!

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12/14/16 5:20 P

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The Lightcap (Paperback) by Dan Marshall

It was an okay read. Several plot holes and also a rather disjointed narrative. The characters were rather flat and I just never really believed in any of them. The plot was rather choppy, and so the story didn't flow well. That said, I did read to the end, so there's that.

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12/10/16 6:16 P

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A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers, #2) by Becky Chambers

A fun read in the series. Not as humorous as the first, and tangentially related. This story, however, really develops the characters! It also addresses questions like what really is consciousness , and also implicates slavery.
Our main hero, a very young Jane lives a very hard scrabble life, alone in a shuttle, stranded on a planet. Meanwhile in another corner of the Galactic Commons, Pepper and Blue bring an AI to life by giving her a humanist body.
The plot is driven well by the characters, and we make some good friends along the way. The questions asked are also developed in a well paced manner, and the storyline doesn't get bogged down. Another nice, quick read.

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12/9/16 2:23 P

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers

Nicely done! Enjoyed reading this book as it has all the elements of a good read. The author took her time in developing the characters, and allowing them to evolve. Good plot that had to be driven through. Nice twists and turns, and a fun sense of humor as well.

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12/5/16 7:15 P

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Into Everywhere (Paperback) by Paul McAuley

Follows Something Coming Through, but from a more distant timescale. You can, however, easily read this as a stand alone book. The action is fast paced, and the characters are driven. Sometimes they are driven by their own ambitions and sense of purpose, sometimes they are driven by other, more alien ghosts in the machine.
The author does a wonderful job of continuing the universe he started in the first book, and asks some cogent questions along the way. Many of those questions have to do with what would happen if we could go out there, and what would we do with the remains of some Elder Culture's relics.
As always, we carry our sins with us, but we also have some good guys and gals to help. In this book, our two unlikely heroes are Lisa and Tony, (No, not a couple) and the way then end up meeting is cleverly done indeed. Toss in a rogue AI, and a couple off very not transparent alien races, let stew and see what happens.

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11/12/16 4:17 P

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Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

First things first, this book is an YA title. I didn't realize that when I ordered it, but it still is a fine read! Told in first person narrative, our hero is quite the gal! We move with her as she seeks out a life of adventure. Said adventure becoming all too real and too quickly! She has to grow up very fast indeed, and also take on the galaxy's worst space pirate. Toss in a few other baubles of family treachery and the alike, and you have a cracking good tale indeed.
She gets reborn hard, and glows with anticipation at coming to terms with the one that has stolen her sister, and killed her crew. Oh yes, you want to read this book!

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A Night Without Stars (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers #2) by Peter F. Hamilton
alter cycle, but (of course) leaves the Commonwealth wide open for further adventures. The characters drive the plot and subplots. The pacing is brisk, or n to, when it needs to be. The scope of the adventure spans from several thousand light decades away, back to our own galaxy. Set in a far distant future, the story has oh so human characters. We see our own foibles and follies, and there is no end to our sins as a species. But that's why this book is such a great read.
I know some readers have complained about this author's style of writing, and in particular the heft of his tomes. I rather fancy it as he doesn't need to rush thru a chapter every time you turn a page. Also, the author is not overly wordy, but takes time to craft his universe, and the people in it.
Once again, the Commonwealth is a place and time I would love!

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10/28/16 8:52 P

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Time Siege (Time Salvager #2) by Wesley Chu

The further misadventures of James Griffith Mars. In a very dystopian future, his job was to go to the past to retrieve stuff to make the present better. Got it? Good. Unfortunately, he manages to break every rule about his job, and kidnap a scientist to help save the Earth, and also the Solar system. And that was the previous book!
This book follows the first in a seamless manner. The characters are better developed, and more textured. Our hero has a midlife crisis, and oh yeah, hits rock bottom, with the bottle. But that is a minor subplot compared with the trap he has become ensnared in. This is worthy sequel to Time Salvager, and yes you want to read that first. Fast paced and direct, the book never dawdles. It does have turns warm and loving, and also cold and tortured, depends on the character. The plot is straight forward, and driven by the characters. There are plenty of surprises in both people, and places, and storyline.
The only thing I need add is for the author to get the finish out NOW!!

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10/24/16 2:41 P

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Death's End (Hardcover) by Liu Cixin

Wow. What ride this series has been! And in this, the last installment of the trilogy, the scope has become very 'universal" indeed! The characters drive the story along, and we see our humanity define, and redefine itself along the way. This time, our fly on the wall is a young engineer from the Common Era (the same era we live in). Cheng Xin is thrust into making several key decisions that for better or worse, affect the entirety of mankind. No pressure there. She felt, after making each of those decisions that she did not choose wisely.
The Trisolarians, however, are very complicit in the background of her decision making process. And they don't play fair. It almost seems as if time itself is against our species, even tho we can hibernate away for centuries. The rest of our entourage of characters appears, and disappears as events need.
This book does close the storyline in a most appropriate manner. The clever writing can not be stressed enough, as you keep coming across twists, turns, and even roadblocks. But Time marches on, and so does the story. How it marches on is the story!


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10/14/16 2:54 P

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The Revolution Trade: A Merchant Princes Omnibus (Paperback) by Charles Stross

Hokay... I finally finished this series. And it was a slog, make no mistake about it. I'm not going to get into plot, and subplot twists and turns. But I will say that the author stumbles to a mostly unhappy ending here. Charles Stross doesn't pull any punches, instead he assaults you with full on body blows, kidney punches and jabs you in the throat.
He also makes known his opinion of the US government, and it's actions during the Bush-Cheney administration. Yes, really. I think that is a large part of why the ratings, and reviews are all over the spectrum. The author mixed his SciFi, and Fantasy, with a bit too much of a projected reality. Or, maybe, (and this is again, just my own personal opinion) I prefer my SciFi and Fantasy to not be an "Alternate History" of this world.
At any rate, the entire series lurches thru three different worlds, and none of them have much to commend. Instead the sins of ourselves seem to be ever present, in any world, and therefore all we have are some very gloomy prospects, wherever we go.

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10/3/16 4:25 P

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The Traders' War (The Merchant Princes, #3-4) by Charles Stross

Okay, so you thought the first Omnibus was confusing? Well, then let's add in another world with it's now set of distant, and pissed off Clan, and oh yeah, the US government is also pissed off as well.
So now our hero, the ever plucky Miriam aka Helge, has to negotiate thru landmines (sometimes literally) in all three worlds, while dodging various bullets. Oh, and being under house arrest is not a good idea for her either!
At least there are some few folks that she can count upon, but who are they really? Everyone seems to need her of rather own machinations, and she really is getting sick and tired of all this.
The characters are becoming more fully fleshed out, but the plot become much more intertwined and twisted! Don't blink as you might miss something important... in whichever world you may be?

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10/3/16 4:19 P

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The Bloodline Feud (The Merchant Princes, #1-2) by Charles Stross

An interesting mix of SciFi and Fantasy. Set in the America during the Bush-Cheney administration, and a couple of tangential worlds. Our hero, Miriam, has an entire warehouse of surprises when her mom finally lets on the family secret. Not the least of which is being able to transport herself into a medieval style world where (oh dear) she is a noble person. And in the middle of a very drastic feud!
Miriam really does not do well at Court. And her rather botches a lot of folks plans, both for her wealth, and her health!
Tightly written, but sometimes a bit forced. Good characterizations (as you would expect from Charlie) but the plot does get disjointed. At least you, dear reader, have the luxury of putting the book down. Which you really won't do as you need to find out what happens next.

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9/12/16 2:06 P

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Dark Matter (Hardcover) by Blake Crouch

Ah yes, the good, old, Many Worlds of life's paths not taken novel. But don't let that stop you dear Reader! Sure we have all read or seen, quite a few Multiverse Multi Plots before. And yes, rather obviously this book rests upon an artifice that someone could build a wonder, horrible machine that spans the different worlds.
Which the author does in manner you don't think about. But Mr. Crouch skillfully combines different disciplines (physics and biology) to make a believable Deus Ex Machina. Where this tome is set apart, however, are the characters. Or, in particular the main character, who is much more than he seems to be?
And just what would you do if you were ripped apart from the family, and life you know and love, and were inserted into one that you had always wondered about. The author masterfully weaves together different viewpoints, each of which drives the plot. And towards the end, when the fecal matter impacts the propeller, the storyline gets quite twistificated indeed!
It took me three days to finish this book, but if not for my mundane reality I would read it in one? Or maybe some other me in a different timeline did?

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9/8/16 7:03 P

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Infomocracy (Hardcover) by Malka Ann Older

This is swift ride, so you better not blink! Set in the near future, with a dysfunctional system of micro-democracies as the various forms of government. We're on the eve of a global election, and then it picks up! We have some greta characters who are sufficiently complex to be quite believable, and a plot that is fast paced enough to keep the pages turning.
Plenty of action, but all done by someone(s) who are driving and twisting the narrative for their own ends. Our two main heroes are not above suspicion either, and when the breakdown comes, each has to asses their own loyalties. And for very good reasons.
Once you pick this book up, you won't put it down until you are done, so go pick it up... now!

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9/6/16 2:36 P

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Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire, #1) by Yoon Ha Lee

If you are looking for a great SciFi read, with a chaser of Fantasy, then this is for you! The author takes us on a most peculiar ride into a war of philosophies with enemies who were allies. While this brewing, we also season with an undead, sociopathic hero/murderer from about 400 years ago. At the appropriate times we baste with weapons that bring in a fantastical morbidity, and then we let bake with a newly minted, yet freshly disgraced women of uncertain philosophical character.
Oh yeah, this is a great read!!


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8/31/16 6:52 P

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The Race (Paperback) by Nina Allan

Not really a full length novel. Rather it's four short stories, and an appendix that makes a fith. Each story is somehow related to the one in front of it, if only tangentially. And the second and third really are not SciFi at all. they border on the genre known as Urban Fantasy, but barely just.
The writing is clean, and the characters are driven. The plots ate loosely intertwined, but only as a general theme really.
The journeys are compelling and a worthwhile read, but this is more of a book to read on the bus, rather than a classic.

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8/29/16 1:29 P

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Children of Time (Hardcover) by Adrian Tchaikovs

Wonderful book, and you want to put it down! I did think the author made a couple of grievous sins at the beginning, but I plodded on anyway. I love that this story has a multicultural view pf the plot. And yes, the well developed characters do drive the plot, sometimes into the depths of despair and cruelty. There are other time, however, when the characters surprise us with some wisdom, and a better way.
This novel takes a well determined time to get to where it's going, which allows for complexity of people and story. Altho, yes the pace does quicken when is should, so there are no boring parts.
When the inevitable, final conflict happens (as it surely must!), the ultimate conclusion is as satisfying as it is unusual!

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8/20/16 7:02 P

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Too Like the Lightning (Hardcover) by Ada Palmer

This book is quite the ride! It is set in the mid 2400's, yet narrated as if in the 1700's? This means that the reader doesn't get the luxury of our 21st century sound byte chapters of two or less pages. It also means that you need pay attention. The artifice of a future that is described as if in the past is well thought and developed contrivance. It simultaneously gives excruciating detail, while also avoiding the topic at hand.
Thus, the plot seems to be dragging, while in fact it covers only a few days. But you get an in depth relationship with the narrator that is rarely achieved in first person voice. And while you get this deep level of story telling, there is so much more that you ask along the way.
As each chapter is turned, you slowly become drawn in, and by the time you finish this tome, you realize that you simply must preorder the next one!
The author does a great job of having the characters, and their various relationships, drive the plot. So much so that at times you forget the miracles that are being done elsewhere?
but worry not, for the author does an admirable job of pulling yet another rabbit out of the hat, and you (yet again) applaud.

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The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut by Clayton C. Anderson

I have read many Astronaut Memoirs, and this ranks as one of my favorites. I have also met many astronauts, and "Clay" is among the coolest. He has a gentle sense of humor, and an honesty and integrity that match his (mostly) outstanding career. But really, to me, (just an "Earthbound misfit"), it is love of God, family and (yes) country, that place him head and shoulders above so many of us.
This memoir is not a technical compendium of his career. Nor is it an exercise in self aggrandizement. From the first pages of the book, you get a sense that you are having a great conversation with an old friend. It's as if you and he are couch surfing, sharing a glass of wine, and just reminiscing about your life's adventures together. When I say together, Clay brings you along in his journey, and pulls no punches. Nor does he offer excuses, or shift blame when it's his turn to be a human. He is candid and forthright in the only way he can be. If you read this whole book without shedding some tears, then you need to find the place where you put your heart.
Because, make no mistake, you will shed tears, both for his joys, and also for his pains. Yes, he is that honest!
As we all know, there is no such ting as an "Ordinary Spaceman"... but then again, we all knew the Earth was flat once, didn't we?

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8/9/16 1:52 P

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Argonauts by Kevin Kneupper

Could be better, could be worse. It was on okay read at best. I have nothing against reeling an old myth, but this one needs better editing for sure! There were several time I almost just chucked the book because it was boring, but the author would pick it up again.
So, not the worst read ever, but I would be hard put to give it a thumbs up.

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8/4/16 1:38 P

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Excelsior: Book 1 of the New Frontiers Trilogy by Jasper T. Scott

The author has some good ideas here, and also some "been there, done that stuff". The characters are pretty much single layered, and not very deep.
That said, there was enough good writing to keep me turning the pages. The storyline, and the narrative did improve as the book went along. The plot centered around a nerdy found wormhole, and a planet at the other end. Political distress, war, blah, blah, blah.
But the book does pick up in quality towards the end, and even has some surprises for the reader. I haven't yet decided if I will continue to follow this trilogy (and just why is everything a trilogy these days?). But knowing me, I probably will. So, not on the level of Ian M. Banks, or Neal Asher, or Charlie Stross, et.al. but I think the author may bear reading?

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7/31/16 6:47 P

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Human 76 : Fragments of a Fractured World (Paperback) by Michael Wombat

I must tell you that I went into this book with a couple of misgivings. First, if you have followed me at all, you know of my general dislike for short stories. Don't judge, I just prefer the whole story is all. Second, in this past decade there has been a plethora of Post Apocalyptic whatevers. And most of them are not really done all that well, in my opinion. again, just my take, but there it is.
So if this book was a sport, it would be Pairs Olympic Ice Dancing. You, the reader are one of the partners on the ice, and the story you are reading is the other partner. Yes, as any good dance should, the beginning is slow, and builds. Thought each story we come closer to Gahbrie, and then sometimes, we separate and seem to do a turn on our own? This collection of short stories doesn't go from a point a to point b to point c and so on. Instead it dances, and skates through many places and people. all of which have been deeply affected by "The Blast".
And like any great performance on ice, this story of stories twists and turns, slides slowly and also speeds up. Are we doing a tango or a merengue? There are stories of Science Fiction, and also Horror, and also Comedy and also Love.
So, when you finish the dancing with this book, you smile at the journey taken, and the people you have met. And you even shed a tear for some of the other folks that were alongtheu way.
In other words, don't let my misgivings mislead you, this is time well spent.
Also, do read about how this came to be, it is a fun tale in itself. And then look at the bios in th aback about the people that brought this dance. And ask yourself, "Is Wombat really giving me the finger?"


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7/26/16 3:12 P

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Apex (Nexus, #3) by Ramez Naam

Wowzers! What an incredible book. And oh so very credible at the same time. This is a very worthy conclusion to the Nexus Trilogy. Ramen Naam keeps the reader's attention, and you become completely involved in the story. There are so many subplots to weave together into the final whole, yet the author does a masterful way of weaving.
The characters are well lectured, and very human. Each has constraints that either helps, or hinders whatever cause they are pulling for. Lots of violence yes, and also other exciting action. When it heats up, you might get blisters from your fingers turning the pages so fast! Yet the exposition is also well paced and thoughtful.
I rally think these books would make for a great series of movies. At any rate, go read them all now, you will thank me later.

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7/6/16 3:08 P

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Crux (Nexus, #2) by Ramez Naam

Whoosh! Put the tray tables in their locked, upright positions, and buckle up, we're going for a ride!! This book ups just after the first, and you *will* stay up at night until it's finished! I literally found myself starting to speed read to get to the next point even faster, faster, faster!!
You know the basic plot (or go read the descriptions, that's not my job) and the characters are written well enough that you believe in them. Plus, they drive the plot, and subplots in a very convincing manner indeed. No one is completely white hat or black hat, and yes it is twisted. But certain aspects still remain, and doing the right thing because it is the right thing is a very pressing moral question.
More action, more dwelling deep, more answers and manipulation and happily more story...

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6/29/16 8:40 P

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Our dear historical Vlad the Impaler may not be SciFi, but it's really hard to say that classic isn;t welcome in here?! ;) Besides, you could say that it's tangentially related... At least in just about every book store they lump Horror in with SciFi anyways...

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6/29/16 8:25 P

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Dracula, Bram Stoker. It's much better written than I expected from my past experience with super-hyped classics, and now I'm a little sad I haven't seen any adaptations that are as good as the book. ;)

But since that's not actually science fiction, I'll also note that I recently read The Last Mortal Man by Syne Mitchell and that was really good, too. It's the first book in a series that was never finished, though, so alas, there are some loose threads left untied at the end...

Edited by: STARWING at: 6/29/2016 (20:27)
“Rest satisfied with doing well, and leave others to talk of you as they will.” — Pythagoras
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6/27/16 7:57 P

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Nexus (Nexus, #1) by Ramez Naam

Wowzers, what a ride! Great characters and a very compelling story. Wonderfully textured and also an emotional rollercoaster ride. Character driven plot, and subplots all come together seamlessly in this first of three novels.
Since I can only wonder just what our silly Human race is going to do next, I better read all about it!

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6/22/16 5:18 P

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The Medusa Chronicles (Hardcover) by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds

This is a sequel to A Meeting With Medusa by Arthur C. Clarke. I think that perhaps it more of a love letter from the authors to Uncle Arthur. Honestly, the first two thirds of the book I found uninspiring and plodding. I particularly found the various iterations of our hero's machine body to be cumbersome and mostly felt like a 1980's one off? Also, the idea of Machine sentients was not really well thought out.
But I stuck with it, and the final third was well written indeed. That's when I could really sink my teeth into this, so to speak. So I was going to give it a Two Star rating, but the last part pulled it up a notch.

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6/22/16 5:12 P

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The Long Cosmos (The Long Earth, #5) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

How do you say goodbye? Especially to a beloved author who is now in the next realm. Sir Terry Pratchett, (who had numerous works to his name) left us in 2015. Happily he and Stephen Baxter left us this very satisfying, and yet bittersweet conclusion tho the series.
I would decidedly recommend that you do read the entire series, in order, before this. Otherwise, you simply won't get the full emotional impact of the book.
Our old, dear friends have one last tourney to make, and hopefully answer an invitation to all sentient beings in the Long Earth cascade. How they do what they do, and the interaction of these people are what keeps this book so close to the heart.
So, in the wise words of Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over, be happy that it happened!"

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6/12/16 7:50 P

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War Factory (Transformation #2) by Neal Asher

Wowzers! What a read! This is the second of three books in the Transformation series. And it picks up about a nanosecond after the first one ends. Or maybe that's a femto second? The pacing is tight, and the plot seems to start at berserk and then go into hyperdrive. We have several subplots, each by a different character, who's have each somehow, been changed by being in contact with Penny Royal. Penny Royal is the galaxy's Most Wanted AI, and for several god reasons. She is a murderess of planetary proportions, and she also has her own unique sense of sadistic humor. Anyone who has some kind of a deal with this black AI quickly discovers that they got what they wanted, but it's always a deal with the devil.
The plot is very consuming, as is everyone's seeming desire to figure out just what Penny Royal is doing now? Especially as it appears that she is intent on redemption. But she still is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum hidden inside a black hole.
The story follows each character, and also delves into the politics of Human, Prador and Polity AI. Penny Royal must "go back to the beginning" to find the end. So, of course she also places each character where she wants, with no regards to their wants or wishes. All of which means that as soon as you finish this book, you immediately want to pick up the next! Which I have been given to understand is at the editors.
Lastly, after reading the poignant dedication, all I can say is"Thank you Neal for remembering. I appreciate it."

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6/11/16 10:11 P

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The Rising (The Alchemy Wars, #2) by Ian Tregillis

I never knew there was an "Urban Fantasy" genre until I started reading it. This is the sequel to The Mechanical, and a very worthy successor it is indeed.
Some old friends and enemies (and sometimes you just aren't really sure?), and some new ones. The plot goes further afield and afoot, and into a revolution. One that is probably "the end of the world."
Oh dear, will Ian please and thank you bring out the conclusion to this story?!

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6/11/16 10:10 P

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Code Breakers Complete Series: Books 1-4 (Kindle Edition) by Colin F. Barnes

Read this entertaining series as a set, on my Kindle. The first three books are really just one long novel. The fourth is a short story that ties up loose ends from the first three.
Very fast paced SciFi that moves along quickly. The cast of characters are quirky and eccentric, but wonderfully so. The plot is a bit strained at times, but you just keep reading.
In all a good read.

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6/11/16 10:09 P

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City of Blades (The Divine Cities, #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett

What? Yet another Urban Fantasy book? Well, yes. And a great read it is at that. This is the sequel, stand alone, of City of Stairs. I think that this novel is more smoothly written and better paced. We have some new friends and some old ones. And oh yeah, a certain Divinity that was supposed too be long dead, that has promised to her followers that they will one day wage war on the living, and utterly kill every human being on the planet. What is a retired general to do? You will just have to pick up the book to find out, it's well worth the read I assure you.

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4/29/16 11:07 A

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The Drafter by Kim Harrison

Picked this up at an airport on a recent trip. Airport bookstores are really not well noted for having any SciFi, much less really good SciFi. Happily, this was a quick and easy read. The characters drove the plot, and there plenty of twists and turns along the way.
I enjoyed the read quite a bit, but noted a few stumbles along the way. Namely, how does the Anchor and the Drafter really manage to get into each other's heads? Don't remember that being explained anywhere. Then again, I was also on two flights, one of which got delayed, and was really tired when I read most of this book, so who knows?
If you pick it up, you won't be disappointed.

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