Sci-Fi Books

Craig Alanson – Columbus Day | Expeditionary Force [1]

28525188I was missing both humor and sci-fi. Luckily, one of my friends recently discovered audiobooks, and thus was able to provide me with a recommendation of “Columbus Day” by Craig Alanson (Expeditionary Force 1; ASIN B01AIGC31E; 494p.; Goodreads). And let me tell you, it was hilarious.

It was Columbus Day in America when two alien races invaded Earth. One – devastated the land, messing up the infrastructure, electricity, communication, and whatever else it was. The other one seemingly rescued the poor little earthlings and chased the bad guys away. Soon after, they started recruiting Earth’s military to join them in further warring out in the space, on other planets. This is how our hero got onto this paradise-like planet, supervising evacuation of the locals here, the same bad guys who invaded his planet, who, seemingly, merely peacefully cultivated food on this planet. They seem kind and pretty willing to engage. Unlike their new higher-ups, who seem pretty disgusted by these new folk they have to deal with. And yet they still do. Why?

This and many more questions are soon to be answered, as our hero, during one serious battle in which he fought to keep his people, humans, alive, instead of taking sides or helping sides, where he accidentally finds what seems like a shiny beer can. A shiny beer can shaped ancient AI. A shiny beer can shaped ancient AI who is also an utter asshole.

I laughed out loud so many times! It’s a truly well action packed book with a very, very healthy dose of humor and cheek. 5 out of 5, couldn’t give it a point less if I wanted to.

 

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Categories: 5-5, Books: Funny!, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Adrian Tchaikovsky – Guns of the Dawn

23524779I can’t recall how this book reached me. But it did, and I’m brewing with happiness I’ve read “Guns of the Dawn” by Adrian Tchaikovsky (ISBN 1447272676; 658p.; Goodreads). It was an amazing read, one beautiful story in fantasy-steampunk realm, story of war, heroes, crimes, and the reasons behind it all.

Denland and Lascanne were once allies. Now they’re mortal enemies at war, for long enough too so that regular lascanner forgot the times denlander was but a neighbor. Lascanne king is pouring all he has into the war zone, all his warlocks, created by the spark of royal blood anointing them, giving them power to wield fire by burning an imprint on their skin. All his soldiers, and every able men. And, when even that wasn’t enough, he demands every third woman to be taken to serve too. In the end, they almost won anyway, so for them it’s merely a chance to get a medal and run back home, victorious! But if the war is truly almost done, why all this effort against Denland, country whose king was assassinated even before the war, thus a country with no mages to put to warring.

When towns and villages had only women, old folk, maimed folk, and babes left, and when even the women were required to come and serve, most genteel families sent off their maids, serving girls. Such noble families as Marshwics were expected to do the same, but Emily, their eldest, always had a heart a little too kind, a little too brave. So once the time came, she reported for duty, she and many other women, not many of any worthy rank, came to have their hair sheared short, and get taught how to use their weapons. Given the choice she even asked to serve in the worst of the worst of places, in one of the swamps covered by constant mists, full of giant beetles that thought of these meager humans as food, and as good as littered with dead of both sides. One of the last warlocks made by their king served here too. And so here, among these people she soon started calling friends, Emily learned what war is all about. For, after all, even the noble lips sometimes lie, even the most loyal hearts tend to believe wrong, and even the most deadly enemy with all the advantages sometimes offers peace, and most importantly, truth.

I can’t tell you how great this book was. Not a moment in it boring, not a moment dull. And so unique at times, what with magic only passed on by the burning touch of the royal line. But most importantly, I loved how to the very end I couldn’t tell how could this possibly be solved! It takes changes to change things. Unheard thing: drafting of women, was what it took to change the tide of the war, and then end it too. 5 out of 5, a glorious 100th book this year for me.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Fantasy, Fantasy Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Andy Weir – Artemis

34928122I patiently waited for “Artemis” by Andy Weir (ISBN 0553448129; 305p.; Goodreads), and at last! The writer really got me with “The Martian” back in the day, and this book promised me more of what I like: the good author, moon, heists, smugglers and mobs. And while it was very different from what I expected – what I did get was beautiful.

Jazz Bashara came to live on the Moon with her Muslim father (pointing this out, because he’s practicing, she’s not, and it’s always interesting to see families work like that) from, I think, Saudi Arabia, when she was 6 years old. She grew up on Artemis, the only lunar city there, and going back to Earth is out of the question for her, no matter what happens. But she does have a friend there, on Earth, a friend who soon became her business partner. They both just wanted to live with dignity in a world where everything good that happened to them got trampled by effects of other people’s decisions. So now they control the smuggling business, everything that goes from Earth to the Moon and is considered illegal there. They’ve always been very careful about it too, especially Jazz who risks deportation to Earth if she gets caught. But when a million slug (their money) deal is thrown on her metaphorical table – well, you can’t blame a girl for dreaming big, can you?

To simplify and avoid spoilers: in Artemis they pretty much only have one big company that makes oxygen, and a handful of other products that just happen during the processes of smelting things down to get that said oxygen. It’s a heart-thing, if you please, but other than the air they breathe – nothing is of high value or importance, which leaves Artemis without the export part of the economy. But big people, smart people, find gold where there’s none, and Jazz with her heist just got in those big people’s way towards astronomical profits, money laundering, and other schemes. For the big people seem to be the good old-fashioned “killed you to make a statement” kind of mobsters, prepared to take over one way or another.

I bloody love Jazz. She’s funny, strong, real damn smart, and much like Watney when it comes to trying to survive in situations that just don’t inspire will to live. But be aware, if you’re searching for Martian 2 – this is not that book. This book might not keep you awake, as it has not kept me awake. I will give it a 5 out of 5, but that is because I love how refreshing it was, with new characters, new action.

Categories: 5-5, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Stephen King – The Gunslinger | The Dark Tower 1

43615I bought this book so very long ago. Yet came about to reading it only when they released the series. I’ve a love-hate relationship with King’s books. I like his stories, but don’t much enjoy the books themselves. Adaptations are often good, but then… Anyway, I’ve finally read “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King (The Dark Tower 1; ISBN 0452284694; 231p.; Goodreads), the first book in The Dark Tower series. And I really didn’t like as much as I hoped I would.

This is a very slow story of a Gunslinger, the last of his kind, chasing a man in black in a world that’s tearing itself apart, across the desert beyond which the world, according to some, simply ends. But that is where he must go, for he must find the Dark Tower, and the man in black is likely the key to getting there, getting inside. All the while he’s expecting a trap from the man in black, for he has seen it before. He left villages obliterated due to those traps, due to people attacking him with firm belief that he is the very devil incarnate. He saw it in minds of others, even in people he liked. Like the woman who was given a keyword that would’ve opened the memory of her risen from the dead friend. He would’ve then told her what’s out there, beyond, and it would’ve driven her mad. Much like the idea of a trap is driving the Gunslinger mad.

The Dark Tower itself is a nexus of everything. Time, possibilities, but most importantly – size. What’s behind the door, behind the sun, the galaxy, all of the galaxies, what’s there, at the far end, where nothing is anymore? The idea of it, the want to see, to know, is driving Gunslinger through this scorched place of madness and delusions.

The idea would’ve been of epic scale, if I’ve not read similar philosophies many times before. This embodiment of everything, across the dunes, and over the train tracks, built by gods, for who else could’ve done that? Demons in the sand, in the bones, in the machinery that no longer goes. If none of that sounds familiar, then you might just like this book. It is worth your love, it is a classic for a reason. It’s just not my cup of tea. 2 out of 5, but, yes, there’s a but. I’m not ready to quit just yet, so I’ll be reading the next one.

Categories: 2-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Dystopian, Books: Fantasy, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Philip K. Dick – Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep?

7082This is, on mere technicality, a re-read. I was very little when I first put my hands on “Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner 1; ISBN 0345404475; 244p.; Goodreads), and recall it best in relation to other non-related sci-fi books on bounty hunters, profession I highly wanted to participate in back then. Yet the reading now was delicious. Funny how sci-fi has such a special spot in my heart, and yet I read so little of it.

Rick Decard is a bounty hunter with a license to kill, if you please. His job is to test suspicious individuals and, if they can’t pass the test, kill them, any means necessary, excluding human endangerment. Otherwise his mission would sort of lose the purpose. For he kills androids who pose as humans, androids who escaped Mars, usually, after killing humans there, and who are getting just too good to track down. There is only one test they always fail. Androids, unlike real humans, are too logical to have proper empathy. They can be trained to respond, but there’s only that much you can wiggle your way out of. Yet Rick’s job is no easier due to this. No empathy, for starters means they’ll kill people if they have to, even if “have to” is a mere distraction.

So the hunt begins. Decard follows in the tracks of androids his colleague has fallen to. Falsely gaining confidence after the first kill, he soon finds himself in far more trouble, than he ever thought possible. Worse, slowly but surely he is uncovering a far deeper rooted plan to survive that androids have cast in a web across his city, if not planet. They infiltrated places they had no rights to be in, right under their noses, every day at their ears. And newer models make even him question the morality of his work, hell, even his own humanity becomes questionable… Because, what if memories are false too?

I really like the characters in this book. Decard is not the only protagonist, but I excluded the other one purposefully. I also really love how androids have this delusion of what a head hunter for androids is: this unstoppable machine they’ll fall to if they as much as lock eyes with. If you like cyberpunk – you must read this. It’s a very easy to read and follow book, and I’ll gladly give it a 5 out of 5. And if anyone’s wondering about those sequels – someone else wrote it, I don’t feel like reading them right now.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season [1]

fifthseasonI took this book for all the wrong reasons, yet loved it to bits never the less. “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth 1; ISBN 0316229296; 468p.; Goodreads) is a colossal fantasy book, falling under the general genre of sci-fi too. The world is nothing like I ever read before, and the threat to it is even more so. There’s just nothing I can compare it to. And I promise, it feels like pure high-fantasy, so if you don’t like sci-fi, don’t even think of it as of such.

Father Earth is angry with all those crawling little things at the top. No one is sure why, but the anger is constantly there, on ever shifting, trembling, constant seismic activities undergoing surface. Any quake can start a new Season, and humans can only pray they have enough to outlast it, until sun comes out the ash-filled skies, lava cools, and volcanoes choke their last. It is because of this constant threat that people hate, and fear the breed of people called Orogenes. For even a babe in a cradle can quench a tremor, tapping into it as easily, as it breathes. And just as well, that babe can grow, get angry, and set off something that’ll kill them all. And that’s not the only odd race of beings here.

Damaya was one of the orogenes given away to Guardians, assassins who can turn their power against them, if need be, and thus, by humans, considered the lesser evil, even if they aren’t. But Damaya trained, learned, and not being of seemingly any special skill, was put to pair with a ten-ringer Alabaster. Her chaotic accidental power, born out of no where, to his well bred potential. It’s just that they don’t like each other much, and yet not only are they required to try for a baby, but get on with an assignment too. One that changed their lives forever, and the rest of the world’s too.

This was a superb book I cannot even begin describing. If I thought that Final Empire / Mistborn was great, then this is more. The characters are so very interesting, with their own personalities, that don’t just fill in for others. There’s easy acceptance of trans character being who they are, and a little tiny love triangle where Damaya and Alebaster fell for the same guy. But it went well, that guy liked them both anyway. There’s beings that walk through stone like it’s water, and mountains, well, obelisks, that follow people around, inching with their colossal size towards them. It’s all so very amazing. 5 out of 5, really.

Categories: 5-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hugh Howey – Dust [3]

dustAnd so ends the Silo trilogy. With Hugh Howey book “Dust” (Silo 3, ISBN 1490904387; 458p.; Goodreads), which is not even translated to my native yet, but then I’ve read them all in English, so whatever. Not the best dystopian post-apocalypse story, but ended well, and thus it’s fine. I’m feeling very neutral about it…

All the while silos were told the world upstairs was poisonous, and unsuitable for living. Something happened up there long ago, and thus Silos doors need to stay firmly shut. But Jules is no longer content with their stories, proven too often to be nothing but a bunch of lies. She’s up to figure out what’s wrong with the surface on her own, careful to avoid the prying eye of Silo 1. Test the soil in earnest. Test the air. And if she really can’t cross her way via surface to the other silo, she might as well dig…

Silo 1 is in turmoil too. Something’s happening. Dead people, murdered people are appearing. Someone from the top was awakened from their cryogenic sleep, and is feeling enough guilt on what happened to those poor people for all. Things are about to be changed, whether these comfortable puppet masters want it or not.

The books are not bad, they’re just not for me. Everything’s clean, bright, but poisonous. I missed the mind-invading darkness of Metro 2033, and thus I guess my expectations were way off the radar. I’ll give it 3 out of 5, and I assure you, this is NOT a waste of time. In the end, it’s a good story.

Categories: 3-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Everything, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hugh Howey – Shift [silo, 2]

shiftSo ominous the warnings, don’t dig, don’t search for the truth. Then the story gets told to the reader backwards, and I find myself rolling my eyes… “Shift” by Hugh Howey (Silo 2, Omnibus edition; ASIN B00B6Z6HI2; 520p.; GoodreadsGoodreads) was a challenge to read. I don’t have a good memory, and thus find it preferable to follow a plot, rather than try to remember several characters, and update their stories as they progress, or give prequels.

Story follows several characters. Some built the silos, back in the day. Others lived in those that fell first. Some survived the falls, others survived the truth. And each one has knowledge of something that could be groundbreaking, that could cause another silo, or all of them, to fall, riot. How was the world before, and what caused humanity’s retreat? Can they ever go back up, and could it be, that not all of the world is as devastated as this corner of the earth with buried silos is? Each one, in their own way, is prepared to go beyond these walls.

The book could really serve as a prequel with inserts of current event updates. There’s really little new to the now of it all, but a lot of backstories. Like Jimmy, the previously sole survivor of one of the fallen silos. Or Mission, who witnessed the start of the fall, and knew the culprits. Or Donald, who approved Lucas promotion, and spoke to Juliette, giving them grains of truth, without them knowing that he too, doing this, has rebelled.

Honestly, I find it a bit ridiculous with premonitions like “the truth will kill you, oh don’t go looking for the truth!” – it’s the same damn thing I keep getting in Nightrunner, and it makes my whole reading process lag. The truth is – nanotechnology. Great, that’s new and unique, unlike atomic bombs would be. But so what? I just can’t see why this kid, knowing his great great great great grandfather maybe helped doom humanity to live in a silo should beat himself over it. Strive to fix it, sure, but go crazy and run out, where the air itself is going to kill you due to the knowledge? 3 out of 5, no more. I’ll read the last one just to close it up. Story has and had potential, but having it, and using is – are two different things.

Categories: 3-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Everything, Sci-Fi Books, urban fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frank Herbert – Dune Messiah [Dune 2]

dune2Right, well, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (Dune 2; ISBN 0441172695; 331p.; Goodreads) felt far longer than it actually was. Odd how the peak of the story came to be at the end of the previous book, and now – everything spiraled down. Truth be told, if there’s nothing to pick it all up in book 3, I’ll abandon the Saga, glad I’ve read the first book.

Muad’dib has power beyond measure. He’s in sole control of Spice mining, and everyone needs it, everyone wants it. Drowning in visions induced by air saturated with this very spice, Muad’dib is dreaming of the simpler days. With no empires to rule, no legions to control. With no intrigues, politics, and those nasty fate lines he can see so clearly now. One wrong step is all it takes for it all to fall. The face changing assassins. His dead mother’s sect in hunt of, what, his genes? Stolen worm to be taken to another planet in attempts to take away the monopolis from Muad’dib. The most trusted friend once dead, now alive again, dubbed Hate by smiling faces. Just one step, and…

The Dune is changing. There’s now plenty of water for everyone, but not everyone is happy about it. Worms went deeper, further away into the desert, for they fear all this moisture. And people too feel there’s something wrong in this lavish…

 

As you can probably tell already from the hard-to-read writings of mine, I didn’t like this book much. I can give it 3 out of 5, no more. For there were indeed plenty of very good parts, but they reminded me more of gold veins in marble. You follow this thin line, twisting, breaking, turning. The rest was filled with that superbly common topic of those on top dreaming to be simple men. It was mighty boring to read of a person with, what, super-awareness? Someone who can remember what her ancestors might have known, dreaming to “just be loved”.

Categories: 3-5, Books of Occult, Books: Everything, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frank Herbert – Dune [1]

dune-coverI tend to dislike overly long books, even if they’re as good and wonderful as Frank Herbert‘s “Dune” (Dune 1; ISBN 0340839937; 604p.; Goodreads). For, simply, so much happens between the first page and the last, that it becomes as good as impossible to say one thing that would reflect it all.

Spice, melange, is the most wanted, and the most expensive substance in the cosmos, obtained in one planet alone, Arrakis, know to the open desert folk simply as Dune. It is said that it never tastes the same twice, that the spice adjusts to persons wants and needs, pandering to the desires, and soon creates an addiction. On top of it, it gives an almost supernatural insight, the Sight, without which navigators are as good as blind, unable to predict the dangers open space has in store for their ship.

The price of it lies not only in want and addiction, but the hardships of mining this substance. For Spice is closely guarded by giant creatures known as desert Worms, known to grow large enough to swallow mining factories, men, spice, and all – whole. The relation between the worms and the spice is too intertwined for anyone to risk killing more than one or two truly menacing ones, but no one, except maybe the free folk, truly know how it is with them.

I feel like I’ve just read an epic story, like Kalevala or whatever else. The book inside is thespicemustflowsplit into three, so it’s not difficult to read, and the story is so well paced, and so well braided with treacheries within treacheries, that I ate page, after page. The way people live in the desert, how moisture is preserved, and how even tears are frowned upon as wasteful, how treacherous sand can be, how easy it is to get buried and never found again, and oh, how the spice changes the color of the eyes… And most of all, how scary the damned giant sand worms are, forcing people to adjust even their way of walking just to avoid attracting one. Politics are unbelievable too, real easy to follow, and real interesting to watch unravel. 5 out of 5, there can’t be a question here.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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