Sunday, 11 November 2018

Nightfall by Jay Allan

Nightfall (Blood on the Stars #10)Nightfall by Jay Allan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tenth novel in the Blood on the Stars series "Nightfall" is a no holds barred action packed book relying on the tens of thousands of words used in the previous novels to develop the characters who play out this apocalyptic scenario. This novel is purely the pay off for the chess moves of the Confederation and Alliance against the Hegemony fleet with Union forces circling, it's full of action and drama as the battle for the Confederation capital system ignites and just when you think you can take a breath the conflict explodes again. I've got to give a lot of credit to Jay Allan for maintaining my interest in the series this long, there have been a few dips in form but with interesting characters, well written dialogue and action pieces both small and epic it's been an overall delight and it ain't over yet.

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Sunday, 28 October 2018

SCE Omnibus 10

Creative Couplings (Star Trek: Corps of Engineers)Creative Couplings by David Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tenth omnibus of stories under the Starfleet Corps of Engineers banner comprises of six individual stories and as in the tradition they world share while maintaining continuity. I can not overestimate how well oh so many authors have worked together to weave this series of stories and maintain the very best of readers expect from licensed Star Trek.

Paradise Interrupted by John S. Drew
As Risa experiences extreme energy fluctuations and failure of key systems including weather control the Da Vinci is called in. Meanwhile young Eddie Johnson left to his own devices when his father attends a conference makes a new and unexpected friend while exploring some caverns.

Where Time Stands Still by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
The mysterious Delta Triangle which had swallowed space vessels for years was recently breached by the Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk (See Animated Series) and the Da Vinci is ordered to make contact with the Elysian Council and offer technology to allow them to leave this mysterious vortex where time runs differently. However not everyone is keen to leave and for some the galaxy beyond the Triangle is full of dangers.

The Art of the Deal by Glenn Greenberg
Rod Portlyn is a "tycoon" who operates outside of the Federation and has amassed huge wealth and influence. An offer to partner his business with the Federation and together build a huge research complex is signed off on and the Da Vinci tasked to coordinate and help initial construction. However when bomb attacks on other Portlyn owned operations occur the Da Vinci investigates and finds that no everything is as squeaky clean as the Federation would want it to be.

Spin by J. Steven York & Christina F. York
An alien space ship within the Lokak system will collide with the home world, unable to prevent the catastrophe the former Breen controlled (aka occupied) world calls for help. The Da Vinci find a very unusual ship and as pressure mounts to destroy it Captain Gold and his crew strive to save the ship and discover its purpose.

Creative Couplings by Glenn Hauman & Aaron Rosenberg
Captain Golds granddaughter Esther was marrying Khor the son of the current Klingon Ambassador to the Federation. As you might expect juggling the demands of a traditional Klingon wedding and those of the Jewish faith is complicated and Gold finds himself at the center of dozens of demands.
Meanwhile a few of the crew have taken the time to help a friend at Starfleet Academy to test a new Starship design using the huge holosuites of the complex. They also double up the testing to include the latest graduate class to see how they handle the unexpected and yes that is what happens when the testing is compromised and safety protocols are offline.

Small World by David Mack
Araneus one of the last of his people in the universe is fleeing towards a star system within Federation boundaries with a treasure whose value to him is beyond imagining. He is being pursued by an alien force who want the prize to aid them in a war for their freedom but once under protection of the Da Vinci the mysterious prize is far more than any of them could have imagined.

This latest omnibus is excellent on all counts, the stories are entertaining but I have to say Captain Gold handling the politics of a marriage was the highlight perhaps in thanks to seeing the Klingon ceremony in DS9. Highly recommended and already purchased the 11th omnibus release :)

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Stargate Universe "Malice"

Stargate Archives

Stargate Universe "Malice"

Alan joins me to discuss his choice from the whole Stargate franchise.


Dragon Racer by M.R. Mathias

Dragon RacerDragon Racer by M.R. Mathias
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Dragon Races are the jewel in the crown drawing the high and mighty to the huge coliseum where blood sports are the prelude to watching the mighty dragons in their life and death races. For the majority of the population however they are just something to aspire too but when the young Sharrah Che is taken to her first race by her Aunt and guardian her world will forever be changed.
Dragon Racer by M.R. Mathias constructs a very visceral landscape to tell it's story, you really do get immersed into the world he has created and the mechanism that allows the world to work (gambling, politics and magic) well together creating a framework to tell the story of Sharrah.

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Sting of the Mustard Mines by Barry J. Hutchison

Sting of the Mustard Mines (Space Team, #10)Sting of the Mustard Mines by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know when you save the Galaxy maybe even the Universe you think there would be appreciation aplenty to go around but then when time is manipulated who apart from maybe yourself would ever know of your epic deeds. Such is the life of Space Team or more accurately Cal Carver and things only get worse as the new reality is pretty much as bad as the old one just different. It turns out whole worlds are being wiped out, terror is rampant throughout the cosmos and old old enemies and new and improved nemesis are running amuck.
Of course Space Team knows no fear well more to the point Kevin keeps all bad news to himself until it's too late to do anything or for comedic effect, hard to tell with this advanced AI who is a law unto himself.
Sting of the Mustard Mines was a fun read, I don't think Barry has managed to inflict as much angst and violence upon Cal as he does in this story and neither Splurt nor Toby can really save the day. The new narrative/world that Space Team lives within has opened up the series which should being new and always amusing adventures for our "heroes" and I for one am looking forward to see the consequences of Space Team's good deeds :)

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Stargate Archives

The Stargate Archives Ian joins me to discuss Stargate SG1 "The Serpent's Lair" on a new episode from the archives.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Invasion by Jay Allan

Invasion (Blood on the Stars Book 9)Invasion by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ninth novel in the Blood on the Stars series by Jay Allan heightens the tensions within the Confederation as the media and political manipulation by agents of the Union continue to shake the very structure of this culture. Admiral Barron has gathered many ships and crews around him and is facing the cold hard truth that to save the billions of people of the Confederation then control has to be seized and quickly despite the loss of life and stain on his own soul. Admiral Winter's fleet battle the invading forces of the Hegemony and a controlled tactical retreat in the hopes of breaking supplies lines is the only hope but pressure continues to mount as enemy forces get ever closer to the capital world of the Confederation.
Invasion more so than recent novels ramps up the space based action something which Jay writes with pace and style but does not ignore the politics and intrigue going on within the major powers including the Hegemony (which was most welcome). The writing is solid as you would expect with well developed characters being supported well and new characters and situations merging seamlessly. With a number of novels still to come in the series I can honestly say after a little dip in my enjoyment the series is back on track.

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Defiance by Jason Krumbine

DefianceDefiance by Jason Krumbine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A century ago the UPA (United Planetary Alliance) were attacked by an unknown alien force which were labelled Species 4876, worlds and fleets fell to their power until the combined might of the UPA destroyed them. This is in the history books but is it what actually happened?
A century later the memory of the billions lost is just that as the UPA political structure see no threat despite knowing little of the intentions and overall goals of Species 4876 but within the fleet itself eyes are wide open and continue to search the darkness for signs of the return or their influence.
Captain Gavin Mitchell of the USS Defiance is in hot water after taking a short cut through the Veneer neutral zone during an emergency resupply mission and events at the mining colony on the world of Carlock indicate external forces are in play. Further investigations point towards the Veneer (who withdrew from the UPA a century before) and the Oxean interstellar crime syndicate but more is waiting for the crew of the Defiance to discover.
Defiance is as the author says a novel that will appeal to fans of Star Trek, the framework and characters of the story are very familiar to this long time fan of Trek but the novel is one step removed and stands by itself as a science fiction tale with some humorous elements.
I also liked the narrative structure as the events on the mission are told through the interrogation of the Captain, it would work very well in a live action television presentation. Ultimately this is a homage to Trek and that can be a good or bad thing, for me I enjoyed every reference (however slight) and that took nothing away from the story being told, look forward to the next book (Hand of God) in the series.

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Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Tale of the Five Omnibus by Diane Duane

The Tale of the Five OmnibusThe Tale of the Five Omnibus by Diane Duane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The darkness, the shadow, death or entropy call it what you will it is forever surrounding us, a part of life and a necessary precursor to whatever comes next and thus in the world of Brightwood, Steldin, Darthen and Arlen it emerges through the acts of individuals from little things to world changing. Long in the past the Kings and Queens of the nations gave their lives to bring peace and prosperity to the nations and through magic, bloodline alliances and oaths unbreakable peace reigned until the death of a king, the rise of an usurper and the lack of strength and resolve from a son born to rule but who ran.
It is a few years later and events conspire to bring an unlikely group together, the world is dying as harvests fail and encroachment from raiders rise. The land needs a King, rites have to be done and is this world the land and its King are truly one, without the a human heart to care and maybe to sacrifice the darkness rises and thus Herewiss a young sorcery looking to rekindle the magical "flame" in himself (lost to man centuries before) rides to the rescue of his friend Freelorn (Prince of Arlen) and the fight against the darkness begins anew.
The Tale of the Five Omnibus consists of the three novels The Door into Fire, The Door Into Shadow and The Door Into Sunset by Diane Duane with the fourth novel in the series in development. I am very familiar with the Star Trek novels by Diane and this was the first of her original work I have read and I enjoyed immensely, there were certainly echoes in the language and worldview that I recognised from her take on "Romulans" but no question that this solid epic fantasy with magic, warriors, dragons, elementals and all manner of normal human strengths and weaknesses.
She created a huge world to play in and characters and races all add depth and complexity to the events of the three novels thanks to their diverse nature. I really enjoyed her take on Dragons, The Divine and Elementals and the decision not to stick to a more traditional narrative when it came to personal relationships worked very well.
I'm looking forward to The Door Into Starlight but this omnibus can stand alone so don't hesitate, this is a well written and entertaining fantasy adventure.

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Monday, 27 August 2018

Battlestar Galactica

I've had the Battlestar Galactica on pre-order for a while from Eaglemoss and while I prefer the original design there is a lot to like about this one. It doesn't hurt that the detail and build quality of the model is excellent.

Martian War Machine

I recently rewatched the 1953 classic movie "The War of the Worlds" and then saw a youtube review of a model from the movie and well it really really looked nice so I bought one. I didn't go to the extra expense of a lighting kit but the green plastic does reflect light and appears to shine.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Orbs 4 Exodus by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Exodus (Orbs #4)Exodus by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fourth and final novel in the Orbs series sees the last desperate role of the dice both from the remaining crew of the NTC Ghosts of Atlantis and those from the biosphere as potentially the last of humanity leave Earth as free beings. A journey to Mars to meet up with the earlier NTC expedition and perhaps to make a new home free of the "Organics" and their masters on a world already devoid of most of is water is the only hope but it's no safe haven. The Organics are waiting but Dr Winston's commune with the aliens gives the survivors a small edge and together and apart the revelations of the aliens plans and goals are fully revealed.
The final novel in the series is for me the most enjoyable, more alien tech/scifi hardware focused worked well with the foundations laid down in the previous novels. The surprising twists were also most satisfying and the ongoing trend of sacrifice for the greater good felt right given the opposing viewpoint of the guiding force behind this invasion and so many more fallen worlds and civilisations. This novel got the fifth star because it's worth it and it wraps up a very strong scifi story, there were few "wins" for the characters and humanity which you would expect given the odds they faced but everything fell into place and conclusion was so worth the wait. Stand out character may surprise some but I really enjoyed the AI Alexia and her growth throughout the series, initially met with some mistrust she grew with the human characters and playing a critical role throughout.
I can highly recommend the Orbs series even though the aliens want our water has been done to death in the movies (mostly poorly at that) but here we get a strong and believable narrative with good characters a few of which stick around but most burn bright but leave their mark.

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Orbs 3 Redemption by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Redemption (Orbs #3)Redemption by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Redemption is the the third novel in the Orbs series and we return to an Earth stripped of its fresh water and the oceans slowly vanishing, the death of plant life and reduction in water is rapidly raising the temperature of the planet and it will soon cease to be a home for mammalian life. The inhabitants of the biosphere under the guidance of the AI Continue to struggle to survive as their numbers fall but there are others out there including the NTC submarine which was tasked with monitoring the biospheres but there came a time when they had to act and so together there may be hope that a few more humans can survive the death of the planet.
The pace and tension in the story to escalate in this third novel as the noose tightens on the few surviving humans, those previously unnoticed are forced to act and in doing so will fall to the superior alien forces but options are revealed and the struggle continues.
It's difficult to really go into any detail, this series is a must read for a science fiction fan who is willing to meet the author half way, the characterisation continues to be strong and the situations believable with a little leeway from the reader :)

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Orbs 2 Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Stranded (Orbs #2)Stranded by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orbs II: Stranded is the second novel in this four part alien invasion series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. The survivors of humanity buried deep within cheyenne mountain in the biosphere continue to see a world stripped of water as the fresh water lakes, rivers and other sources have already been harvested and huge machines begin to drain the oceans. Alas the horrors of the new reality are even worse as the alien army repurpose captured humans as "cattle", mounted on spikes they are kept alive to maintain a water source and tensions mount as the marines and scientists clash over what they should about this latest development.
Orbs II is an excellent sequel or continuation of this huge ongoing tale of a credible alien invasion. There are no easy answers and that is where the strong character based writing comes into play counter pointing the world building and action sequences. Once again the whole is more than the some of its parts as I could not put this down thanks to the benefits of reading the first novel and knowing the the third is waiting for me.

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Thursday, 9 August 2018

There But For The Grace Of God — Stargate Archives

There But For The Grace Of God — Stargate Archives

In the latest episode from the Stargate Archives I am joined by Ian to chat about the excellent Stargate SG1 episode "There But For The Grace Of God".

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Cylon Raider

Cylon Raider

Recently released by Eaglemoss is the model of the Cylon Raider from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. A very well put together piece but you know I still think I prefer the Raider from the original series.

Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Orbs (Orbs #1)Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orbs was a novel or more accurately part of a series that was recommended to me in the usual Amazon fashion and the price was good and the blurb was interesting so why not. Four books later I was totally satisfied with the story that Nicholas had penned about an alien invasion of the Earth and the subsequent events which for humanity and the world were not good, not good at all.
In this first novel we get much of the backstory of the Earth set in the near future which carries throughout the series, the environment is damaged and political and economic issues have led to a corporate power being the defacto world leader to the point that China as a "power" were removed from the equation at the hands of the New Tech Corporation. Complications arise after a solar event slashes the Earth with destructive radiation and stella material leaving millions dead and cities gone or uninhabitable. The eyes of the corporation look towards Mars and a biosphere project is undertaken to prove the concept under the eyes of a highly advanced AI and selected specialists led by Dr Sophie Winston. Soon after the project is sealed under Cheyenne Mountain all contact is lost with the outside and the animals violently destroy themselves. The last time anything like this occurred was when the Earth was bathed in the radiation storms and while the team can last for months in this self sustaining complex the team need to know what has happened to the billions who lacked this protection...
I'm not going to go into too specific details of the events the followed leaving the Cheyenne complex but I will admit I was hooked, it's not easy making an alien invasion story work given all the questions that are often asked when the goal seems to be resource lead but this was by far more interesting than anything Hollywood has done recently. We were presented with a good mix of characters and good dynamic between them, personalities clashed and the AI was a good addition offering a look at events offset from the emotions of the team members.
I pretty much read all four novels over the course of a week, one of the benefits of being late to the party is that there is no waiting for the next installment and while this novel only got a four star rating the series as a whole will get five, it was that good.

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The Sidekicks Initiative by Barry J. Hutchison

The Sidekicks Initiative: A Comedy Superhero AdventureThe Sidekicks Initiative: A Comedy Superhero Adventure by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world and the grand Cityopolis were protected by superheroes until they weren't. The government machine attempts to hide the fact that it's an open range for super villains and they look to the horizon in trepidation because who or what killed the Justice Platoon are still out there. Sam Summers a mild mannered divorced father of a young son has issues with his life, his work and well everything else but when his son is threatened at gunpoint his troubled past reawakens and maybe just maybe Cityopolis and the world have hope.
The Sidekicks Initiative is a new venture for the author Barry J. Hutchison who has penned the very good series of novels under the Space Team banner and associated spin offs. I've enjoyed those novels immensely and was more than willing to start a new adventure with Barry's latest novel and I was not disappointed. The Superhero genre is very buoyant at the moment and originality is a gift few can achieve so more often that not the key is to create a piece of work that exists within the genre and its well trodden tropes yet retains the spark of creativity. Barry has achieved this with his world building, interesting and well constructed characters and situations and in this case nailing the comedic aspects to a tee. I also have to say that a couple of more heartfelt and emotionally deep elements came across very well, sometimes you need to feel for the "bad" guy and allow for redemption and shades of grey in the hero bizz.
Highly recommended if you have never read Barry's other work and if you have you will certainly not feel let down and I hope this is a start of a new avenue for his creativity.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews!

Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews! (Pew! Pew!, #5)Pew! Pew! - A Fist Full of Pews! by M.D. Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The latest anthology in the Pew! Pew! series arrives with another eight broadly humorous tales of science fiction spread across all subgenres with submissions from authors who are returning to the series and a few new to the anthologies. I enjoyed all eight of the stories, they all had fun moments and were far from simplistic in their narrative or structure, these are all well written scifi with the humour when required as the bonus element or icing if you will.

Cryonite Caper by Felix R. Savage
Mike Starrunner small time freighter captain finds his weapons officer frozen in a block of cryonite, some shady business going on but what exactly and who with has yet to be determined. In a society where there are humans who can shape shift and of course aliens a plenty it's going to be tricky for him to find out the truth and to be alive after he does.

The Chadd by Richard Parry
Chad Forradel is assigned to track down a newly emerged human empath which leads him to the terraforming world of New Haven, there is no one left alive. The ongoing war with the insect like Ezeroc is raging, empaths are the key to victory but the Ezeroc can infest a host empath and use their abilities against the human empire so the pressure is mounting on Chadd to finish his mission but then the space pirates turn up guns ablazing and they have the empath.

My Andersonia by James S. Aaron
Ngoba Starl was eager to get his embedded link, an offer of a job from a friend to infiltrate an offworld society and liberate a sentient AI will get him what he wants. Now if only he didn't have to pretend to be the fiancee of a young woman he quite likes or that their guide has the serious hots for him and it's Mardi Gras time and well anything goes...

Rogue Planets and a Bored Kitty by M. D. Cooper
The Delta Team return and well their gifts from their recent visit to Disknee World has kinda changed the dynamic of the ship and crew but a job is a job and so what if the team consists of Cinderella, Catwoman a Vampire and a few other critical changes in circumstance? The job requires them to retrieve an energy device stolen from the world of Crossbar by someone from Allaran two worlds deep in the void in a starless system both dependent upon these devices to provide energy, oh and Crossbar is populated by vampires so no worries.

Space Girl and the Sensual Spy by Andrew Dobell
Space Girl Seren Zenith second to none in her chosen profession of intelligence operative is assigned a critical mission to rescue a deep cover agent, turn the tables on a alien state and collect valuable intelligence. However while her robot McTechbot is always useful (sarcastic to the extreme but useful) she is also lumbered with a Fleet officer, granted she would ride him all night long (well sex is one of her favourite pastimes in any way you care to imagine) but this isn't how she works but as in her private or not so private life a willing partner can always be made to hit the right spot.

Making Trouble by Amy DuBoff
Jack Tressler has had an interesting time since meeting the crew of the Little Princess II and they all agree life is more fun with a little adventure and danger so why not use some of the cabins for high paying covert transport, not trafficking per se but getting people to where they want to go no questions asked. Of course they soon find themselves transporting a group of men and women to a mysterious destination so they decide to liberate the people by stealing back the ID tags from the organised crime gang they mistakenly contracted themselves too. Fun and games galore.

Valentine's Day 1979: An Intergalactic Adventure by Andrew Gates
Wrong place and wrong time sees Ryan Gifford taken onboard an alien starship and learning that the Earth is part of a huge galactic power and as such an Earthman has been chosen as husband in a political marriage to head off a interstellar war. Why an Earth man, well no one else really wants to marry such a hideous creature but hey it's Valentine's Day and as usual Ryan is alone so why the hell not!

The Unbelievers by Bill Patterson
Something is different about the graduating class of 2360 as strange events and deaths occur around them after being assigned to the fleet in the war with the Poon. Extracted from the fleet they are examined and backgrounds checked until yes a common denominator is found and then the fun begins, if they are such a threat to their own fleet how dangerous could they be to the Poon fleet?

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STARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the Genii by Melissa Scott

STARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the GeniiSTARGATE ATLANTIS: Pride of the Genii by Melissa Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pride of the Genii written by Melissa Scott is the latest Stargate Atlantis novel released through Fandemonium aka Stargate Novels and is part of the Legacy series. If you are unaware of this series of novels then they begin where the TV series left off and followed Atlantis back to the Pegasus galaxy and into the chaos that was the Wraith and the Genii as well as many other factions who rode out the turbulent times after the city returned to the Milky Way.
This latest novel from Melissa focuses on the Genii and the recovered Ancient warship they brought to the final battle with Queen Death. Now fully repaired (or at least the best it can be without an Ancient shipyard) the Pride of the Genii with her crew many with ATA gene therapy derived from Wraith tech the Genii venture forth on a "goodwill" tour of allied worlds. This mission is the jewel in the still young leadership of Ladon Radim and nothing can go wrong but with the military coup an accepted way to gain power any weakness or misfortune could spell the end of his rule and his life.
Pride of the Genii is a great addition to the Legacy series of Stargate Atlantis novels as it builds strongly on the core of the series in growing societies and factions that were side stepped on the tv show or simply had so much more to offer. The Wraith have benefited greatly from the world building over the course of Legacy and now it's time for the Genii and for a society that played a part as an antagonist on the tv show there is so much more we need to know about them as a people and the individuals. Melissa delivers in full by not only cementing Ladon as a central character (who still has shades of light and dark) but bringing forth the social order he oversees. A military culture was firmly crafted for the show but we see a bit more of the push and pull within the military and how the science division and even civilian elements operate. As for the Atlantis and her people not a lot was added that we did not already know, this novel really wasn't about their development although John still dealing with the demands of leadership had its moments. I did mention in my first review of a Legacy novel how I really enjoyed the description of the symbiotic relationship between pilot and Ancient ship (Atlantis in that case) but here again we get a wonderful description of the bonding and emotional element between certain Genii and the ship and later with John. The hint of maybe sentience and certainly trauma was captivating, the idea the ship itself recalled its previous close call with death and the loss of her crew and her "screams" as the atmosphere burnt her skin in an uncontrolled reentry were totally immersive. The fact the Genii commander also felt the closeness with the ship says a lot for that officer and the type of man he is, another who would be open for honest and fair dealing with Atlantis.
Overall Pride of the Genii was an excellent read, a very entertaining story with great development of a culture that was never really my favourite but I am ready for the Genii to take more of a center stage in any future Legacy novels. The Genii after all may be right, the Wraith could renege on their deal, maybe not now but in a century who knows and woe anyone that isn't prepared....

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