It's rare for an anthology to get five stars given that no matter the genre there are going to be one or two stories that don't quite hit the mark but this was an exception.
Pew! Pew!: Sex, Guns, Spaceships... Oh My! offered up nine stories most with a strong humorous themes or at least a style that offered up humour be in a dark fashion of by the natural reactions of the characters within. A few are simply out and out comedic scifi and every single one had me wanting more which is kinda the point of this style of book. I really can't recommend this collection highly enough, I was said when each story finished and soon delighted with the next one up, there are certainly authors here whose other works needs exploring.
Delta-Team - by M. D. Cooper
An homage to the classic 80's tv show The A-Team with a few changes.
The Methane Lake of Excruciating Tedium - by Felix R. Savage
A year on Titan doing research but when everyone stationed at this small scientific facility annoys you... The Last Bounty - by Barry J. Hutchison
A man's past comes back with a vengeance when his stepdaughter is space kidnapped.
Spaceberg - by M. Pax
When a spaceberg threatens the solar system and the family of Nikili Echols (Orbital Rescue Squad) is in peril she flies to the rescue. Very much a nod to the melodramatic disaster movies of today. The Long Dark Pew - by Chris J. Pike
Space Bees threaten the planet and the perennial late to the party space tug Barnburner and its motley crew are all that stands between Earth and globs of sticky weaponised honey.
Brewing Trouble - by Amy Duboff
A daring heist to steal a new energy technology, the goal to brew the best cup of coffee in the galaxy if they can dodge corporations, uber weaponed starships and security systems.
Dodging Fate - by Zen DiPietro
The Red Shirt gene is a nasty thing to be born with and when Charlie Kenny decides to spend the rest of his life on a well padded retirement planet what could go wrong, just one more space flight to get there on the safest commercial carrier in existence.
Gli+ch - by Drew Avera
Ben is captivated by the advert for a new life on Europa, soon after he is blasting off from Earth on the adventure of a lifetime with only his sex bot as company.
Bat Johnson, the Mad Mortician of Mars - by Rachel Aukes
Bat Johnson wasn't expecting much when he took the job on Mars as undertaker but with three deaths in the first week and all of them a lot more suspect than the doctor and base commander are willing to admit Bat can't help but investigate.
Captain James Drake a hero of the recent war with the Hroom is in disgrace after being court martialed for events surrounding the loss of a marine detachment. Two years punishment he can take and he's confident he can then reclaim his name and find those responsible for the unjust accusations, manipulation of records and planting of condemning evidence. Unfortunately (or not) loyal members of the crew of HMS Ajax have other plans and the path towards a honourable officer turning space pirate begins.
Starship Blackbeard (all four novels in the series) are a fun read, there is no effort made to really explain the political system of this society or how/why Albion and the other worlds exist in terms of Earth. The technology again is just there, a lot of it seems to be questionable but like Star Wars the mechanics of FTL and shielding etc are not explained they are just there, this is no Star Trek where technology becomes part of the narrative. There are many readers who will be put off by this, many like their scifi with some technological and sociological background to the main narrative but if consider this a space opera where the story and characters are the be all and end all you'll probably enjoy the series. The story certainly does evolve nicely throughout the four novels and the writing also improves and gets more complex but the basic single man and crew against a corrupt force never fails to entertain and the action is fun and fast paced.
I bought the collection off the back of a recommendation and pleased to have done so, already bought the second series of novels which, well no spoilers :)
Fun and frolics as the pirate ship Blackbeard challenges the might of the royal navy, Hroom starships, traders, smugglers and fellow pirates for booty and justice.
At The Helm Volume 2 is a very solid collection of science fiction stories covering a number of sub-genres and styles. There are nineteen stories in the anthology and the strength of the book comes from its eclectic mix of stories, out and out space based scifi with others focusing more on individuals living in worlds beyond our current one. A few even step beyond into more dramatic narratives and one which I particularly liked was certainly more mystical.
For the price of the ebook you can't go wrong, pretty much guarantee you'll find stories you like which leds you to the various author's other works, that's the great thing about these anthologies, you never really know what you'll get.
The galaxy has been a peace (in relative terms) thanks to the presence of the ConFed and her pillar worlds who exert their military, economic and political pressure where ever it is needed. However much of the galaxy is still wild and along the fringes there is lawlessness and criminal activities frowned upon within the core worlds. Rumours reach Jason Burke and Omega Force than a non-military threat could be rising to destabilize the ConFed which could benefit one or two of the pillar worlds or the bigger non-aligned powers in the galaxy. Khepri the location of the ConFed banking/economic AI and the birth world of Lucky the battlesynth of Omega Force seems to be a center of what could be a galaxy wide conspiracy especially when they learn hundreds of his fellow battlesynths are being recalled to the place of their birth, learning why this is happening and why Lucky is not being recalled could reveal who is lurking in the shadows.
Revolution is the ninth novel in the Omega Force series and continues to be an entertaining science fiction adventure series with characters that are both a little over the top but written to be anchored in the reality of the world they occupy. Lucky who becomes a central part of this novel is case in point, a sentient machine built for combat who has chosen to align himself with a group of individuals who were certainly never the demographic the battlesynths were intended to serve alongside. His back story is filled out in spectacular fashion in this story while maintaining a solid narrative spanning the whole of the ConFed and the growing presence of Earth ships thanks to Jason and his well meaning exploits in the last novel. A worth addition to the Omega Force series of novels and more to come.
Explorations: First Contact is a shared universe anthology centered around the human race and their first contact with alien life and associated wonders within the universe. The first story in the anthology is called Prologue written by Stephen Moss and provides the core element the other stories are built around. Sometime in the near future the spacecraft Abeona orbits the moon and approaches an alien sphere shaped artefact recently discovered on the dark side. As they near the sphere mission commander Susan Skarsgaard finds herself floating in space with no sign of her ship or crew and then an assault of images and information floods her mind including one very clear and ominous warning.
Well there we go, the sphere and its effect on humanity and their expansion into space provides a very well thought out structure for authors to build first contact stories around them. You'll find a wide range of styles and approaches to the concept and not all of them go well for humanity and of course the warning is always casting a long shadow as we spread out into the galaxy.
I do enjoy reading these anthologies, they tend to be cheap as they are very much promotional tools for the authors involved and I have certainly followed an author after first reading their work in this type of publication. A recommended read for any science fiction fan.
The second season of House continues to grow in strength, the chemistry between the cast which was excellent right out of the gate is more refined and allows for a more turbulent and at times vicious amount of interaction. The major change in this season is the recurring character of Stacy Warner who after her husband is diagnosed by House takes a full time job in the legal department. There is no question that between Stacy and House there remains passion and never one to miss an opportunity House twists the knife on her husband. Sela Ward as Stacy and Currie Graham as Mark Warner both do an excellent job.
Gryphon represents the Castle and heart of Cliff's End and this latest novel we look into the death of Lord Albin himself. To complicate matters the funeral of the Lord is attended by King Marcus and Queen Marta and there is an assassination attempt against them. A suspicious or cynical person may consider a connection between these events and indeed the detectives are ready to jump into the fray but Blayk the new Lord is making many changes in the structure and personnel of the Guard which hampers the investigation but Lord Albin's wife Lady Meerka puts her faith in Lt. Tresyllione to continue to dig into the circumstances that surrounds her husbands death.
Gryphon Precinct is very much the novel where politics becomes a central aspect of the story, this is not unusual for a crime procedural where the investigators are maneuvered with threats, bribes and "for the good of everyone" not to dig to deeply into events. Of course we'll always have the one officer or in this case detective who places the truth above all and in this case that is Danthres even when the city seems to be preparing for war and her superiors are putting more and more pressure on her to abandon her efforts.
In many ways this novel brings a fundamental change to the series as characters come and go, only time will tell if the changes will continue the tradition of the crime procedural in that the story is more important than the players.
In the city state of Cliff's End the belief is whatever you do to yourself is fine so there are no particular legal issues with drug use including the latest designer narcotic to hit the streets of Goblin Precinct named "Bliss". The drug induces pure happiness but as with most drugs the effect weakens over time causing greater dependency and unfortunately over dosing is common place. The City Guard are as you would expect are indifferent until the Elven General Fanthral arrives in the city looking for a former member of the Elf Queens court, unfortunately his prize is dead from a bliss overdose. Fanthral demands an investigation believing it was murder and a case file is opened. Meanwhile a string of bank robberies take place, unusual for Cliff's End given the magical protections and competency of the Guard but events soon spiral out of control and the two cases clash involving the Brotherhood of Wizards, The Guard, Politics and the upper strata of the cities population.
Goblin Precinct weaves together elements of the narrative as introduced in the first two novels of the Precinct series, it also reflects the procedurals of tv and literature and also mixes in more of the fantasy aspects which makes the series so entertaining. The novel was a fun read, I honestly expected a slightly different ending involving the wizards but no worries, it may all come around as the events unfold in later novels.
The upper social structure of Cliff's End tend to look down on everyone even the guards who often have the afront to poke their noses into business that is considered to be above their standing. However when Arra Cynnis the beloved daughter of a powerful family is found murdered her skull crushed Lieutenants Torin ban Wyvald and Danthres Tresyllione are put onto the case. Arra was due to be married and there are hints she was having an affair, her husband to be has no alibi and the majority of her family where out of town. The case is further complicated by the ME (Magical Examiner) who was unable to identify the culprit after the "peel back" spell only showed an assailant under a glamour disguise. The detectives get the usual run around both through deliberate and indifferent attitudes of the upper classes and most of the useful information comes from the "help". The investigation proceeds and a picture begins to form more due to what they don't learn about the events of that night and the people surrounding young Arra then positive clues.
Unicorn Precinct is the second novel in this series and once again follows Torin and Danthres as they investigate the crime but the novel does incorporate more of the guards and other detectives as the crime leads them beyond the initial circle of suspects. An entertaining murder mystery with magical elements and the added complexity of a society made up from dozens of species all with their own morality, wants and needs.