Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Kill School by Gregory Lynn

This is the fourth book review in my #GreatIndieRe­view­Pro­ject and once again it's a solid read that would hold up against many tradi­tion­ally published work. Have you ever read a book and thought, "that was good, but it was so close to being very good"? Because that pretty much sums up my reac­tion to Kill School. There's nothing funda­men­tally wrong with the story as it stands but I think it actu­ally has the poten­tial to be much better. One of its strengths is certainly the goblin Hobbes himself who is just inher­ently likable (usually of benefit for a view­point char­acter) but there are a couple of points where the events seemed a bit unclear to me and I also think it misses a trick on emotional devel­op­ment. What's It All About Then? Hobbes is a goblin of unusual size. He's good natured, but not partic­u­larly quick witted and when a fight between him and another rather bullying goblin ends in death, he quickly finds himself manip­u­lated into attending a school for goblin assassins.

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Book Review: Excession by Iain M. Banks

Iain M. Banks highly advanced human (and AI) civi­liza­tion, The Culture is rather unusual amongst modern science fiction in that it is presented as some­thing close to a post scarcity utopia. Exces­sion devi­ates from that presen­ta­tion by showing that maybe the almost godlike (by human stan­dards) Minds aren't quite as morally perfect as they might at first seem. Perhaps they simply haven't been presented with some­thing they wanted badly enough before. Exces­sion is defi­nitely rather different to the previous Culture novels but that change is quite refreshing. An Out of Context Problem [amazon template=image&asin=0553575376]The moti­vating event in this novel is the Exces­sion itself, described as an Out of Context Problem, which is defined as some­thing that is so far outside of a society's norm that it can't be predicted or antic­i­pated. In this case, given the vast tech­no­log­ical sophis­ti­ca­tion of the Culture itself that means the Exces­sion is a completely alien object of unknow­able power levels. Which makes it in a sense a Deus ex Machina only it creates the prob­lems rather than solving them.

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Book Review: About Last Night by T. Paulin

I admit it, I was attracted to About Last Night initially because of the cover. Not only does it not have the yawn­somely tradi­tional Urban Fantasy look to it but the subtitle claims it's a "twisted" urban fantasy series. So, some­thing new then! Some­what at least. At first glance the setup of the book is very familiar. We've got a rela­tively young guy in a dead end job who acci­den­tally discovers that the para­normal is real. But, there's a bit more going on, because this city  has a publicly acknowl­edged zombie infes­ta­tion, which is sepa­rate from the para­normal stuff. In Which I Whine About The Whining [amazon template=image&asin=B00KTV547Y]The first problem I ran into while reading this story was just how nega­tive the view­point char­acter Eli is.

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Book Review: Without Bloodshed by Matthew Graybosch

The latest book in my #GreatIndieRe­view­Pro­ject series is Without Blood­shed by Matthew Gray­bosch, a science fantasy story which mixes liber­tarian idealism with heavy metal, violence and a healthy dose of sex. Who Should Read This? Do you like rock and or heavy metal music? Do you appre­ci­ated some fantasy in your science fiction? Are stories better with a healthy dose of polit­ical intrigue? Are you okay with some sexu­ality in your reading mate­rial? If some or most of these apply to you then you should give this one a shot. Did You Like It?

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Book Review: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Writing reviews for long running series of books becomes progres­sively more diffi­cult. I think we've reached that stage with Foxglove Summer which is the fifth in Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant urban fantasy books. The problem is not that it's a bad book (it's actu­ally a highly enjoy­able one) it's that I've both said much of what I want to say about the series before and I have to be careful what I say about events from previous books in the series. This is a bit limiting. Never the less there are a few things that set this latest install­ment apart from previous entries in the series. That's Not London! The single biggest change here is that the story is not set in London, in fact London doesn't feature at all. For a series whose origin centered around the goddesses of the London rivers, that's a substan­tial departure.

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Book Review: Archer: Book One of The Long Game by Richard Rohlin

The second story I'm reviewing for the #GreatIndieRe­view­Pro­ject is Archer: Book One of The Long game by Richard Rohlin (and edited by Benjamin Feehan). It's a pulp styled super­hero novella full of costumed heroes out for justice. It's also the first part of a larger series and as such there are a fair number of unre­solved elements, but the story as told here does feel reason­ably complete. Basi­cally what we get is the origin story of Roger Fitzooth and how he changes from a spoilt playboy into a costumed hero driven to bring his father and his company down. Cliches vs. Tropes [amazon template=image&asin=B00DE1A4MQ]Archer leans very heavily on familiar super­hero and pulp tropes.  The idea of the super­hero whose public iden­tity is that of a playboy is a trope for example, as is the type of hero that Roger becomes, an Archer.

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Book Review: The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton

I really love Peter F. Hamilton's stories. I've read most of his books and even his short story collec­tion A Second Chance at Eden. So it's prob­ably fair to say that I am a biased reviewer of his books. It's also not a surprise that I enjoyed The Evolu­tionary Void. But the book (and the trilogy) had some prob­lems. The Evolu­tionary Void is the final part of a trilogy of books that Hamilton has written about what's referred to as the Common­wealth Universe. This following on from a duology where he intro­duced the setting.

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