Advanced Review of my novella “Time’s Abyss”

time's abyss

Promotional image for “Time’s Abyss.”

As my regular readers know, my first science fiction novella Time’s Abyss becomes available exactly one week from today (can be pre-ordered right now). Here’s the Amazon “blurb:”

Continue reading

“Doc Savage, Man of Bronze:” The Origin of the Superhero Group

doc

Cover art for Doc Savage magazine

Doc Savage and his oddly assorted team might be considered the progenitors of today’s “Fantastic Four” and many other teams of superheroes — even Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.” -Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics’ “Spider-Man” and “The X-Men”

There are probably two reasons to read pulp fiction that’s 70, 80, 90, and even 100 years old. The first is that you’re a true fan of the genre. The second is, if not for these ancient heroes, we wouldn’t have the modern ones that, at least up until recently, were box office blockbusters at the movies.

In the mid-1960s as I was about to enter Junior High, I didn’t realize these stories existed and more, I didn’t know that various publishers had finally convinced the owners of these older properties to allow them to appear as paperbacks. It was the perfect time for me. I was the age and sex of the target audience, and the average price for a paperback was around 40 to 60 cents a copy. Heck, back then, even a comic book cost 12 cents.

So Edgar Rice Burroughs’ entire Tarzan and John Carter of Mars book series abruptly appeared in mall bookstores all across the country. So did E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman and Skylark series along with what Robert E. Howard and every other author under the sun wrote about Conan the Barbarian.

Continue reading

“Blood Heir” and Beyond

blood heir

Cover art for the novel “Blood Heir” by Amélie Wen Zhao

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao is not the sort of novel I’d read, but as I’ve said once, twice, and most recently a third time, I hate bullies, especially those who pretend to be workers of “justice”.

Over absolutely unjustified allegations of racism (the book hadn’t even been published yet), the author herself voluntarily “apologized” for her racism in her book and withdrew it from publication.

Horrible mistake. Grievous error.

Fortunately, not long later she realized this was all part of some ridiculous campaign against her that had nothing to do with racist themes in her story (the story was based on elements of the author’s ethnic and national past) and everything to do with the bad character of her opponents. She went ahead and released her book for publication. That was November 2019.

So how did the book do when real people read and reviewed it:

Continue reading

Book Review of “Nemesis Games,” Fifth in The Expanse Novel Series

ng

Cover art for the novel “Nemesis Games.”

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and writer Ty Franck, who once again return with Nemesis Games, the fifth edition in the Expanse novel series.

Actually, the first misstep in the story is the raid conducted by the belter thug Filip and his band of any man left behind gets killed on Callisto a year before the book really begins. It’s clear they’re stealing tons and tons of stealth material, stealthy, but that means it still have lots of mass. Yes, they get away with it, but stealth doesn’t mean immaterial (you still have to cover three really, really big rocks with it).

Ever since that moment, the owners act like they can’t figure out what was taken? What? It was stealthy so now that it’s gone, you can’t figure out what was there in the first place? You don’t have cargo manifests? You don’t have lot assignments? I guess it’s to keep the readers from figuring out too soon that the radical Free Navy version of the OPA run by Filip’s Daddy Marco Inaros is going to drop a bunch of rocks on Earth.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Cibola Burn,” the Fourth in the “Expanse” Series

cibola burn
If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

Last night, I finished Cibola Burn (2015), which is the fourth book in The Expanse novel series by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). As with the previous novel Abaddon’s Gate, it was a little difficult for me to get into at first, but once I was hooked, I was hooked hard.

The general plot is pretty straightforward. Now that the Ring is operational and the gateways to other parts of the galaxy are open, a group of belter refugees took their ship on an unauthorized journey through a gate and ended up in another solar system. For a year, they’ve been colonizing Ilus (called New Terra by the UN) and have set up mining facilities. However, the UN has chartered the Royal Charter Energy (RCE) corporation to both scientifically explore and materially exploit the world, seeing the settlers as “squatters.”

A small group of settlers, including Basia Metron who we briefly saw in Caliban’s War (yes, people who have appeared before come back) planning to blow up the landing pad for the RCE ship’s big shuttle as a protest don’t realize the shuttle is on final approach. In trying to abort the explosion, Basia sets it off, either killing or terribly wounding everyone on board including the UN appointed regional governor.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Abaddon’s Gate,” the Third in the “Expanse” Series

gate

“Abaddon’s Gate” by James S.A. Corey

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

Finished reading Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) which is the third in the Expanse series. It was a little harder for me to get into at first, unlike Leviathan Wakes or Caliban’s War. Starting things off with Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante drinking and gambling in the casinos of Ceres didn’t set the right tone for me, at least not in the beginning.

Also, there was the plethora of new characters to absorb. True, each of these novels introduces characters unique to a particular book, but this one seemed to have a ton, including Anna, Bull, Tilly, Cortez, and Clarissa/Melba, and that’s just the short list.

Since each chapter is told from a specific person’s point of view, I had to keep reminding myself who that person was in the earlier portions of the novel. It was a tad “offputting.”

Oh, and Joe Miller makes a comeback but not as you might imagine, thanks to he, Julie Mao, the asteroid Eros, and the protomolecule all being thrown into the atmosphere of Venus, “cooking” for a while, and then having “something” emerge.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Caliban’s War,” the Second of the “Expanse” Series

cal

Promotional artwork for the novel “Caliban’s War”

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

Not long ago, I reviewed the first book in the “Expanse” series Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Almost always when I read and review the first book in some series, I tend to wander off in a different direction afterward. I did that for N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award winning The Fifth Season, for David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, for Martha Wells’ All Systems Red, and in fact, for just about every book I’ve reviewed, regardless of how well I did (or didn’t) like them.

However, “Leviathan” really hooked me, so much so, that I immediately checked book two out of the public library. I just finished reading Caliban’s War and absolutely loved it. The quality was just as high as for “Leviathan.” I was reintroduced to familiar characters such as Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos as well as new characters such as Prax, Bobbie, and Avasarala.

It begins on the Jovian moon Ganymede, the “bread basket of the belt,” which is the best location to grow the food needed for the colonized asteroids. It’s the best place for pregnant women to gestate to term. It’s also, apparently, the best place to spawn protomolecule monsters.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Leviathan Wakes,” the First of the “Expanse” Series

lev

Cover image for the novel “Leviathan Wakes”

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

I just finished reading the 2011 science fiction blockbuster Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). It’s the first in the nine-book Expanse series and is the basis for the television series The Expanse.

In the future, humanity has spread out from Earth and colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt (or just “the Belt”). However, political, social, and financial enmity exists between the three populations and tensions could be ignited into war at any moment.

Chapters in this tome alternate between the perspectives of Joe Miller, a burned out, alcoholic detective working for an Earth-funded police force on the asteroid Ceres, and Jim Miller, the executive officer aboard a “water freighter” Canterbury.

On Ceres, the mysteries mount. Why did all of the gangs on Ceres suddenly vanish along with the police’s riot gear? Why has the IPO, the Belter activist group on Ceres, become so reasonable and cooperative? And who is Julie Mao, an heiress-cum-revolutionary, the girl he was supposed to kidnap and ship off to her wealthy parents as a “side job?” Trying to solve Julie’s mystery along with his drinking and general ineptitude get Miller fired, but that’s when his adventure really begins.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Kor’Thank, Barbarian Valley Girl”

kor-thank

Cover art for “Kor’Thank, Barbarian Valley Girl” by Kent Wayne

If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi

I’ve been reading Kent Wayne’s Kor’Thank, Barbarian Valley Girl for a while now, and even though it’s gotten terrific reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I had a hard time getting into it.

It’s not because the book is uninteresting or that it lacks action. It’s packed with action and suspense. I can only assume that it’s me.

Okay, here’s the deal (spoilers ahead). A fictional high school in the San Francisco Bay area is located next to a super-secret government research lab that has captured creatures from other worlds and has an inter-dimensional gateway.

A narcissistic, self-absorbed (didn’t I just say that) Asian super nerd named Peter who is always being bullied by the school jocks and cheerleaders, has a serious love/hate relationship with Holly Dent, who has just become captain of the cheer-leading squad after cheating her butt off (which involves doing significant harm to her rival). He also has a female friend who seems to be the “only adult in the room” named Eun Yin, but she can’t keep Peter from starting something he calls “the Fuckrising” to get revenge for his mistreatment.

Continue reading

Book Review of “On Basilisk Station”

honor

Cover art for David Weber’s “On Basilisk Station”.

In my continued effort to review Baen Publications, I’ve just finished reading the first novel in David Weber‘s “Honor Harrington” series On Basilisk Station.

It was kind of hard to get into. Weber has a tendency to lapse into long pages of dense exposition, which tends to put the reader into one person’s head (more often than not, Honor’s) than into the action.

However, if you can power through that, you finally get to a space opera laced with political intrigue, the dynamics of provincial planetary plotting, and then the climax of classic space battle.

Weber seems to have a background in military strategy, which shows in how he depicts martial activities, both in space and on the planet. However, there were times when life aboard Honor’s ship “Fearless” felt a little like “Star Trek.”

The one thing that would have made his book better would be to cut back on each character seemingly talking too much about themselves. Also, antagonists like Lord Pavel Young and the ultra-wealthy Klaus Hauptman weren’t as prominent or as formidable as I expected them to be based on how they were initially presented.

Continue reading