Monday, July 08, 2013

New Addition to the Family

On June 16th, 2013 I was honored to help welcome my daughter,  Sydney to the world (thanks to my lovely wife, Hannah (aka Cupcake Girl from long ago)).  I am so excited to have her enter our lives!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Engines of God (The Academy #1) by Jack McDevitt

The Engines of God (The Academy, #1)

The Engines of God (The Academy #1)

Solid and engaging SF. One of the things I respected about this book is that it shows the future as a messy place.  Sure, they have FTL travel and communications but everything is not hunky-dory at home.  Earth is a messed up place that seems only to be getting worse, science is still operating on a shoestring budget, the military/government is still stepping on peoples toes and the universe is a big scary place.

Spanning 5 separate planets, this tale is good (generally what I have come to expect from Jack McDevitt).  We have the stars but they are a fairly lonely place. Only one alive race has been found (the are technologically around the WWI level), another never got off their planet and died out and a third was engaged in a game of clue, placing structures near all three races (they left a statue near us an weirdly empty city on a moon of another race).

The main characters are mostly archaeologists, who only seem to have exciting jobs in the stories that are written (like Indiana Jones) who are trying to put all the pieces together.  There is action scenes scattered all around story as well as high tech action.  I am really looking forward to the next book!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Redshirts by John Scalzi



Ah, redshirts. It seems to be a sign of a true SF geek to immediately get the reference, vs those would stare at you blankly if you referenced it.  But what if you suddenly realized that you weren't the main character in the reality that you inhabit. Worse, you come to the suspicion that your part in the show may be to become just interesting enough to make the audiences feel some emotional loss when you died. And everyone around you is dying at a rate unheard of for any other ship in the fleet.

Well, this is what happened to the main characters of this story.  And after living through a dreaded away mission (except for their dramatically lost friend ironically) they finally figure out what is going on and even when their show is being written (though of course via divergent universes there is no reference to their show).  After kidnapping a main character (one of the best ways to ensure that they don't die off-screen) they are off to the past to try and stop the writers from killing them and their compatriots.

Overall a fun book, with entertaining characters and a sly wink to a bunch of in-jokes. It may not be a book I ever go back to re-read but it was an interesting story.

Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold #6) by David Weber

Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold, #6)

Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold #6)

Treading water. When you get a series that has such breadth and scope such as the Safehold series (in particular when you are talking about a book that spans the entire world where the fastest objects are moving at around 20mph) you sometimes have a book where most of the story is spent getting things tidied up from the last book and preparing the ground for the next.  Midst Toil and Tribulation is one of those rebuilding books.

Sure, some things happened.  Fights occurred, progress was made, troops were moving across the world. But in the end you find yourself wanting, waiting for the next book because that is when the interesting stuff is going to happen.  I appreciate the series and look forward to the next book but this book just whets your appetite for the next book, leaving you unfulfilled and wanting.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fuzzy Nation (Fuzzy Sapiens) by John Scalzi

Fuzzy Nation

Fuzzy Nation (Fuzzy Sapiens)

A rewrite of a previous story with the same name, this story updates a story that many people, myself included, have never read to contemporary standards.  While a number of the points were updated to account for how we see the technology and standards for contemporary society, I could very much feel the underpinning concepts that carried through from this older story.

A lot of older SF has the super-competent character who is so much smarter and slicker than his peers effectively manipulating the other characters of the story.  In this case it is even more appropriate that this same archetype is also a disbarred lawyer who utilizes his knowledge to control the whole flow of the story.

I was definitely entertained and enjoyed the story throughout though.  From the introductions of the Fuzzies to most of the elements and characters, this book brought me solidly into the story and entertained throughout.

Jack Holloway, a dis-barred lawyer, is a prospector on Zara 23.  In his searches he has struck the mother load, something that would pay out billions of dollars, but he now faces a moral quandary.  Small creatures that he calls Fuzzies have taken to visit his place.  He shares their info to his ex-girlfriend who chooses to file a claim that they are an intelligent lifeforms, which would jeopardize Jack's future payday.  Throughout the book Jack must balance his his desire to strike it big with the potential cost of endangering the fuzzies.

The Evolutionary Void (Void #3) by Peter F. Hamilton

The Evolutionary Void (Void, #3)

The Evolutionary Void (Void #3)

What a solid ending to a pretty fantastic series.  Considering this is the end of the second trilogy based in this fascinating universe that has such a massive scope that it was entertaining to see where it would go.  Full of everything from post-Singularity intelligences, uploaded human consciousnesses, cyborgs, magic and even some elves tossed in.

To really get this book you must have read the previous books, preferably even the series that preceded this one given that is where many of the characters and came from.  This is a SF series that evokes the older SF, large in scale and concepts coupled with solid contemporary characters.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Oath of Swords (War God #1) by David Weber

Oath of Swords (War God, #1)

Oath of Swords (War God #1)

This may have been the only "pure" fantasy (vs urban fantasy) books I have read in a long while.  I have read Weber's Reef series but that has a serious SF element. Not that I haven't read fantasy ever (100's of books disagree with that estimate) but it's not my primary genre.

I gotta say that I liked this book. The story kept me interested the whole way through and I turned around and bought the next book in the series right after finishing this one.

As to the story? It helps that it is an interesting world, populated by both the standard races (humans, dwarves, elves) as well as the unique (like our lead character and sidekick, who are hridani, a tall human like people with different ears). Bahzell is at his core a good guy, and therein lays the problem, as his tendency to do good gets him into deeper and deeper trouble.  And then the Gods and Mages get involved....

I very much look forward to reading the next book.