Book Review of “Out of Time” (2022) by Dave Sinclair

time

Cover art for Dave Sinclair’s “Out of Time”

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

I don’t remember what made me buy Dave Sinclair’s time travel/spy book Out Of Time: An Atticus Wolfe Novel. It’s the first of the three-part series (somehow, I think readers expect series these days rather than standalone books). I suppose it was the theme. An MI6 agent in 2024 is suddenly thrust backwards in time to London, November 1963 and joins the same agency, encountering all manner of anachronisms from sixty years in the past.

Atticus Wolfe is an accomplished MI6 agent currently in London. He’s been stalking an international terrorist named Omar Ganim who has been raiding various scientific organizations and is believed to be building a devastating weapon. Wolfe has been unsuccessful in finding Ganim, that is until a twist of fate puts him behind his quarry on a street. With no time to call for help, Wolfe pursues and corners Ganim. He finds Ganim apparently ready to activate a bomb.

Wolfe plays for time, trying to talk Ganim down. Ganim insists he’s not a terrorist or murderer. He appeals to Atticus as a man of color, who, like him, has never experienced justice from the white system. He says he’s going back to fix the mess that the French and English made of the Middle East. There seems to be an explosion.

Continue reading

Book Review of Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary”

hail mary

Cover art for Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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

Finally got to dig into Andy Weir’s 2021 novel Project Hail Mary. It’s a relatively new book in my local public library system, so I only get to keep it a max of fourteen days with no renewals. As of this writing, I have five days left.

My main reason for bumping it up on my reading list is also the reason I wrote my May 22nd blog post Does Every Single SciFi Story Absolutely Have to Have a Social Justice Theme?.

Some people I follow on twitter (and like) mutually complained that Weir’s book:

feels like the Hugo Award nod for Project Hail Mary fell out of a time travel portal from the year 1986 (Like many of the best-selling science fiction novels of that time, the book largely ignores pesky questions of race, class and gender).

My answer is that not every single story in the universe published after 2001 HAS to be about “pesky” race, class, and gender (my Oxford comma included).

Continue reading

Book Review of “Dream Park” (1981)

dreampark

Cover art for “Dream Park” by Niven and Barnes

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

I had originally read Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes in the early 1980s, not long after it was first published.

I decided to re-read it because I was looking for material from which to construct my one-on-one role playing games I play with my thirteen-year-old grandson.

Long story short, the novel was too involved for me to mine anything useful for what I had in mind. But having only a vague recollection of the book, the re-read was thoroughly enjoyable.

Imagine a future where role playing games have evolved with such sophistication, they can be played out live in a huge, high-tech amusement park. Games are big business because Dream Park, which puts a bunch of money into them to begin with, recoups its dough with movie, book, and other game deals based on the live-action game. The players must be in relatively good shape since, although lives are never lost and most of the danger is simulated, they must still withstand the stresses of “camping out” in a (simulated) wild environment for several days amounting to hard labor. There are also personal and professional reputations on the line.

Continue reading

Book Review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Time”

cot

Cover art for “Children of Time”

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

I decided to read and review Adrian Tchaikovsky’s SciFi novel Children of Time when someone on twitter called him one of the top three living science fiction writers in the world. Wow! That’s quite a testimony. I was curious if that statement was anything close to being accurate.

I asked another person on twitter what would be the best Tchaikovsky novel to start out with. He mentioned a book that is hard to get outside of the UK and then the “spider” tome I just finished.

There are three basic “voices.”

The first is Dr. Avrana Kern who is running an ambitious experiment. With Earth at the height of its technological civilization, we are terraforming exo-planets in the galaxy. Kern’s planet is to be populated with primates and then a nanovirus is supposed to be introduced that will rapidly accelerate their evolution. Another scientist is supposed to wait in stasis in an orbiting platform to periodically wake up and observe their progress.

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 “Galen’s Way”

way

Cover art for Richard Paolinelli’s novel Galen’s Way

Richard Paolinelli’s novel Galen’s Way: A Starquest 4th Age Adventure attempts to re-capture the bygone era of space operas and makes a good run at it, but the cost is encountering more than a few space opera stereotypes.

Galen, a mercenary and smuggler, formerly an elite soldier, is covertly hired by a royal emissary to retrieve a kidnapped Princess from a fortress planet. The job, although sounding difficult, is almost too easily accomplished. However, what he finds is not one Princess, but four, plus a dark plot that spans an interstellar kingdom. In the course of this small saga, Galen alternates between encountering almost helpless and buffoonish bad guys to allowing himself to be captured and violently tortured just (seemingly) to get information.

On the run with the beautiful Princess Rhiannon and his spaceship’s (typically) sarcastic AI Cassandra, they must outwit bounty hunters and professional assassins to unravel a twisted conspiracy and restore justice to the galaxy.

Continue reading

Book Review of “Terminum”

terminum

Cover art for the novel “Terminum” by Lyla El-Fayomi

Disclosure: This is my first review of an indie SciFi book for Reedsy Discovery. In exchange for a free digital copy of a book, they ask that the writer craft a review of between 300 to 400 words in length and have it published on their site prior to a specific date. Basically, it’s free promotion for the book, Reedsy, and the reviewer.

I chose Lyla El-Fayomi’s Terminum to review because the premise was compelling. An experimental virus stops people from aging but at random points in their lives. However, the darker side is that some of those infected will be abruptly killed by an unknown side effect called Sudden Death Syndrome.

In investigating a cure, scientists Yasmine Holloway and Leo Genix suddenly become fugitives, being hunted down both by law enforcement and bounty hunters. They are thrust into the shadowy realm of a group of covert operatives who have, perhaps for decades, been aware of a conspiracy to hide the truth about the virus and to prevent them from ever delivering a cure.

Continue reading

Book Review of Iain Kelly’s “A Justified State”

justified

Cover art for Iain Kelly’s novel “A Justified State”

I’ve been following Iain Kelly‘s writing online for a few years now. He and I (along with a bunch of other folks) met while participating in a series of internet writing challenges such as this one. That’s where I found out that he’s the undisputed master of murder mysteries, only in his case, he actually created a series of novels in that genre to prove it.

Finally (given my meager budget), I was able to download a free promotional copy of A Justified State, the first novel in his “The State Trilogy”.

It was amazing.

The story is set slightly in the future in the UK, known as the nameless “state.” The nation is in a conflict with unrevealed adversaries in “The First Strike War,” which is the backdrop for everything that follows.

Police Detective Danny Samson, who lost his twin newborns soon after birth, and his wife a year later by suicide, is mysteriously assigned to investigate the murder of a local politician, who was the victim of a professional assassination.

Continue reading

Review of Max Barry’s Novel: “Lexicon”

lexicon

Cover image for Max Barry’s 2013 novel “Lexicon”

I just finished Australian author Max Barry‘s 2013 novel Lexicon and I think it’s terrific.

I first became aware of him and this novel by reading a 2014 article he wrote for Gizmodo called How to Write a Great Science Fiction Novel in 7 Easy Steps and, as far as I can tell, “Lexicon” is the first SciFi novel he ever published, though he’s written other books before.

The novel is intriguing in that words are used as weapons, and they can ultimately kill. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but as it turns out, there are certain individuals who, properly trained, can analyze the personality “segment” of people around them, determining which words (which in the book are all nonsense words) will influence them.

But it’s worse than that. A teenage girl named Emily Ruff, who is a runaway and homeless in San Francisco at the beginning of the story, is recruited by a mysterious group of people and begins training at an exclusive prep school in Virginia (think “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Children” except the children are especially persuasive, but not mutants).

Continue reading

Review of Brad Linaweaver’s Novel “Moon of Ice”

moon of ice

© James Pyles

When I wrote about the recent passing of SF author Brad Linaweaver, and then reviewed his original novella Moon of Ice, a few of the people who knew Brad contacted me and shared a little of their experiences with him.

I was also gifted with a copy of the full length novel which I finished recently.

In a way, I’m not sure it was an advantage to have read the novella first. I was able to pick out seeming inconsistencies in the older material. A large part of this had to do with the novella being told from the point of view of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, while the novel had several primary voices, but most of all Hilda, Goebbels’ daughter.

In the novel, Goebbels’ long suppressed journals are on the verge of being released to the public by Hilda thirty years after the end of the second world war, and not long after her father’s death. In this alternate universe, the Nazis developed the atomic bomb and subdued Europe and England, but were prevented from conquering the U.S.

Continue reading