Stargate Archives

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Peace Talks (The Dresden Files, #16)Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I've read a new Dresden Files novels from Jim but I did just do the whole series via audio book in preparation for Peace Talks so I was more than prepared and expectations were high. The novel begins sometime after the events depicted in Skin Game as Harry continues to deal with his precarious position as the Winter Knight and Wizard of the White Council not to forget friend to the Carpenter family, father of Maggie and significant other to a seriously injured Karrin Murphy. The Fomor having ravaged the world since the fall of the Red Court but raise the hope for Peace and a major gathering is organised in Chicago under the Unseelie Accords but even then there are plans within plans and to complicate matters Thomas is under a potential death sentence after he transgressed the domain of the Svartalf and blood was spilt.
Ok that was a very non specific description but like me if you are a fan of Harry Dresden and his adventures you don't want spoilers even those on the official blurb so I jumped into Peace Talks head first and didn't come out again until it was done and naturally cursing Jim for leaving us hanging but the knowledge the next novel was due very soon was a relief. High adventure and complications abound for Harry in this novel, the ups and downs of his life continue to entertain along with his friends, allies and even enemies. Where the novel left off is terrifying but the world of magic and sorcery is so vast and proven itself to versatile we can expect great things to come.

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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Underdogs by Geonn Cannon

Underdogs (Underdogs, #1)Underdogs by Geonn Cannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's not always easy making a living at least an ethical and legal one being a small time PI but Ariadne Willow has an edge and is making the most of it. She is what is known as a canidae which means she can when required turn into a Wolf but retain her intelligence, it comes in handy for surveillance work that's for sure. Hired by the immensely wealthy matriarch of an old money family to spy on the wayward daughter and confirm her recent visit to rehab has taken old is to coin a phrase a walk in the park but the motives behind the job and some very shady individuals orbiting the young woman do not bode well.
This is only the second novel from Geonn that I have read, the previous being an original licensed book based on the Stargate television series. Quite pleased I took a chance on one of his original works as the story and character of Ariadne was compelling more so with her close relationship with her friend and business partner Dale Frye. As you may expect being friends both personal and business with a woman who can turn into a wolf could prove tricky especially those late night calls to come pick them up in the middle of nowhere.
The characters were as indicated written well and the mystery/detective element kept me reading, the few twists in the narrative were well placed and unexpected both driving the plot and keeping the reader invested. I'm looking forward to continuing this series with "Beware of Wolf".

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Sunday, 7 June 2020

New Telly


So I bought myself a new tv after moving the plasma to the lounge (to aid in viewing angles and windows reflecting on the older LCD). I thus had permission to indulge myself and while I thought the 65" looked magnificent I couldn't really justify the cost so bought the 55" OLED instead along with a UHD Blu-ray player.

The TV has Freeview and Freesat (so finally getting to use the dish for the first time in years) but so far 99% of its use is for streaming content off the net or via the NAS or DVD/Blu-ray content. I do have to say that the TV is really making a huge difference in terms of picture quality on older content so much so I would if I would even bother double dipping some existing blu-rays for their UHD version. I also watched an episode of Legend ripped from my DVD copy and that also looked better than it ever had.

The interface on the telly is very nice although I don't like the cursor, much easier using the standard navigation keys but the streaming apps and media server are top notch, fast and responsive.

On a side not I had my first dud Blu-ray disc (may have been my first dud optical disc ever) with the newly purchased Spider-Man Home Coming, got a replacement and that's ok but bit of a let down at the time. Pacific Rim on UHD is freaking stunning and Once Upon A Time streaming in HD (not UHD) via Netflix really stands out.

Was it worth it, probably not since there are lots of 55" panels mainly QLED which have great reviews and are cheaper but can't argue with the quality as I watch the tv at home.

Shockwave by Lindsay Buroker

Shockwave (Star Kingdom #1)Shockwave by Lindsay Buroker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Casmir Dabrowski was a mild mannered scientist on the world of Odin part of the Kingdom which was one of twelve worlds seeded by a long lost Earth and then one day the world took notice. Soon he was being chased by almost indestructible robots, knights of the kingdom and general security forces system wide. His roommate Kim Sato gets dragged along with him as he flees Odin and merges paths with the Captain of the Stellar Dragon a small freightner which is involved in some bounty hunting and minor smuggling. To say his world has been turned upside down is an understatement but wait for it a merciless pirate and scourge of the twelve systems takes an interest in the Stellar Dragon and her passengers, could things get worse, yes they could....

Shockwave is the first novel I've read by Lindsay Buroker bought on the strength of the blurb and artwork vis the kindle store and I enjoyed every page. The characters are interesting and interactions between them fun and both add to their development and drive the plot forward which now finding out this is a long running series of novels I am truly appreciating.

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Hal Junior Omnibus One by Simon Haynes

Hal Junior Omnibus One (Hal Junior #1-3)Hal Junior Omnibus One by Simon Haynes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of the writings of Simon Haynes so even though this series of books are aimed a much younger reader I expected to be entertained and I was. The exploits of Hal Junior and his friends were at times juvenile (which many will appreciate) but the characters are strong and the stories made sense.

The Secret Signal
Hal and his school class are invited to tour a spaceship that has docked with the station, unbeknown to all this is a disguised pirate vessel intent on theft and kidnapping.
The Missing Case
A VIP visits the station to discuss funding for the research facilities and Hal is asked to entertain his kid. A brief tour of the station doesn't go as planned and together the youngsters battle recycling robots, self aware serving trolleys and adults.
The Gyris Mission
A school visit to the nearby world of Gyris for a camping trip is driving Hal to distraction with the excitement but alas when the shuttle develops engine problems and crashes Hal, Stinky and the Pilot have to deal with the real wilderness.

Three entertaining stories aimed at young readers but still a pleasant diversion for the older reader.

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Saturday, 9 May 2020

Mimic and the Space Engineer Boxed Set by James David Victor

Mimic and the Space Engineer Boxed Set (Space Shifter Chronicles Omnibus Book 1)Mimic and the Space Engineer Boxed Set by James David Victor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Space Shifter Chronicles (Omnibus 1) contains the first three novels in the series namely Mimic and the Space Engineer, Mimic and the Journey Home and Mimic and the Fight for Freedom written by James David Victor. As you might expect the collection is an excellent value for money way into the series of novels and ultimately I bought all three omnibus releases which cover the nine novels in the series. The basic premise centers around an everyday run of the mill maintenance/janitor named Higgens who is assigned to a deep space drilling/mining vessel who makes first contact with an alien life form. The life form in question survives the mining of its asteroid home but is stuck in the drilling mechanism onboard the ship, for his own reasons Higgens chooses to strip down the mechanism which frees the alien well the adventure begins. Higgens soon learns that this being is a shape shifter and while trying to continue as if nothing special has happened and stay below the radar of some of the crew he learns that this "mimc" consumes some pretty exotic materials.
The narrative for the first book focuses on Higgens and Mimic and brings in a number of secondary characters who become central as the story unfolds. The second novel revolves around the search for the homeworld of the race Mimic belongs too and the third the consequences of finding it and the fact that all is not well. All three novels are well written with good character interaction and pacing is crisp with both action, drama and humour equally represented. As I said I enjoyed the first three novels and no worries about buying the subsequent releases to discover the fate of Higgens, Mimic and their friends as they deal with Earth and other interested parties.

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First Of The First by Andrew Maclure

First Of The First (Unwilling From Earth Book 2)First Of The First by Andrew Maclure
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are many reasons people (and by that I mean any sentient being) joins an army especially given the galaxy spanning political and social conditions, generally they have something to prove or accomplish or maybe a belief that even now those that look to oppress others have to be stood up to. In the case of Mike aka Hess An Sur, First Born of the First Family her primary goal is to stay well away from the demands of her birth right and being in an independent army surrounded by friends and colleagues is a good place to be. However when her father is nearing the end of his time as ruler of the Empire and the political situation is leading to the raise of a proactive opposition then the search and return of her to the homeworld becomes more intense.
Flanked by her friends and with the protection of Mark (friend of the people) Mike returns to her homeworld and well pretty much everything goes wrong, not only is the political situation unstable there is also external influences in play but to protect their friend Sally and her army well do pretty much anything within their power and this is considerable.
Andrew delivers a well written and thoroughly engrossing scifi story with enough humour to keep things "light" but maintains the threat imposed from elements within the narrative. I've only been reading Andrew's books for a short time but already I am convinced I will be reading his work for years to come, the characters and plots work well and keep you engrossed as everything plays out and often not as you would expect.

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Wyrd Sisters

Well I was having a clean out and came across this VHS boxset of the animated "Wyrd Sisters" one of the early tv adaptations of a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. These days you can find it on youtube but I have to say even though don't remember buying it the packaging and presentation were excellent.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Destruction by Raymond L. Weil

Destruction (Galactic Empire Wars, #1)Destruction by Raymond L. Weil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The opening novel of a series has to set the scene and bring in the reader and "Destruction" certainly did that even if the huge ominous alien ship in orbit may lack some imagination, it is however a well respected trope for a reason. In this context of humanity established on the Moon and Vesta with a nod to Mars the threat posed by this ship worked well and the actions it takes moves away from what you might expect. The consequences and how humanity and the particular characters who are written front and centre are then the driving force of this first novel and I enjoyed both the situations as they impacted the Earth and the colonies as well as the far flung ramifications (more of that to come).
A good solid start to the Galactic Wars series and looking forward to reading the other five novels.

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Unwilling from Earth by Andrew Maclure

Unwilling from EarthUnwilling from Earth by Andrew Maclure
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's not that Mark was bored or unsatisfied with his job he was after all the project leader for the Digitisation of Legacy Documents within the International Finance Group but life was going nowhere which is why perhaps the couple of days each week Sally was assigned to help him was such a highlight. The fact that she was considered a bit of a liability in the work place was not a problem for Mark so when another person came into his little scan and file circle by the name of Alan the fact he was a little "off" wasn't a worry. Of course it turns out that Alan is not quite what he seems and before he knows it Mark is on a journey the likes of which no other human has experienced and finds himself fighting for his life against a megalomaniac intent on galactic domination.
Unwilling From Earth by Andrew Maclure got onto my reading list thanks to a sample for my kindle, I liked the blurb enough to give the novel a go and when I got to the end of the sample I just had to buy the novel and find out exactly what Mark was getting himself into. The story was fun and entertaining to read and the action and character interaction was strong enough to sustain quite a bit of humour. Overall I enjoyed reading the novel and signed up to the mailing list (which includes a short about Marks further adventures) and the sequel to this novel is due later this year.

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Stargate Trinkets

A few Stargate and Trek trinkets which I bought off of Etsy from a store called Emily's Death Ray.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Valkyrie by Craig Alanson

Valkyrie (Expeditionary Force Book 9)Valkyrie by Craig Alanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WTF and You've got to be kidding me!
Those were my initial responses to reading the last line in the 9th novel of the excellent Expeditionary Force series written by Craig Alanson. Many a time a TV show has left you with a season finale cliffhanger that has you cursing the writers and producers but it's rare in a novel but Craig has managed to do so with Valkyrie. Naturally I am intensely interested in how our favoured characters are going to get out of this situation but it really did put a damper on the immediate joy of christmas after putting the kindle down. On the upside I needed a stiff drink so swings and roundabouts.
As for the novel itself, well after the terrible toll taken by Armageddon the Merry Band of Pirates have risen to the challenge and addressed the cold fact that Earth may indeed burn but any small victory is a victory when you consider the incredible obstacles a whole galaxy can throw up against them. I've got to admit the beginning of the novel had me laughing like an idiot which is no small feat given the low point (plot wise) we were in but it all kinda makes sense and that's something Craig proves himself capable of time and time again when creating situations and solutions to entertain us. Naturally Joe and the rest of the pirates face the dilemma of using their battlecruiser to maximum effect when faced with a senior species who begin to ask the right questions as to who is striking their ships but when intelligence indicates a few hundred human prisoners are being sold for bioweapon research there was never any doubt no matter what they risk they would find a way to help.
Valkyrie is without a doubt a valuable addition to the series and draws a line in the narrative, where is goes from now only Craig knows and while I have some trepidation I'm along for the ride.

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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30)The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering how many times I've read Discworld it seems strange of not got around to reviewing more of the novels but I think as I bought them as hardbacks the pressure of ebook marketing and retailing is removed and I forget to do it. That said I've picked up the novels and reading them once again so time to review.

The Wee Free Men is the first of the Tiffany Aching series of novels which is aimed at a younger audience but for me stands side by side with the rest of the Witch series written by Terry Pratchett. Tiffany is a young farm girl with a curious and intense mind who finds herself at the center of events after her granny dies and Elf Queen invades her land and steals away not only her younger brother but the son of the local baron. Tiffany asks questions few others would even consider which pushers her down the path of Witchcraft and armed with a frying pan and with help of some local and highly aggressive but loyal Nac Mac Feegle (faires, often drunk faires) she travels to the land of the elves to reclaim what is hers.
The Wee Free Men is a very entertaining and well written novel, as you would expect Terry is a master at weaving stories within his Discworld and creates a younger character who can be enjoyed by all while being mainly identifiable to a subset of the fanbase. I would heartily recommend this novel to any younger reader looking for a way in to Discworld or just looking for something that isn't as complex as the latter Guard and City novels.

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Sunday, 27 October 2019

Hallmark Star Trek Transporter

Hallmark Star Trek Table Top Transporter

There are times I show little restraint and this was one of them. I loved this from the first moment I saw it on a Trek website so went on ebay and ordered one. Not the cheapest as you would imagine especially combined with shipping but it was in the ball park and I also had to purchase a US/UK convertor for power but all good.

This is a short video shot in daylight but the full effect really comes to life in a darker environment.

Star Trek TAS

Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series

This is a simply gorgeous book celebrating the Star Trek animated series which remained a bit of a mystery to a lot of Trek fans who were not around in the 70's. This show is my first memory of Star Trek so it's always had a place in my heart even if the original series came to be the Trek.
I picked this up via Amazon for a good price.

Endeavour by Ralph Kern

Endeavour (A Sleeping Gods Novel)Endeavour by Ralph Kern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Endeavour by Ralph Kern really was a novel that had me with the cover and the blurb, it spoke of adventure and mystery along the lines of the great Arthur C. Clark or Frederik Pohl so I bought myself a copy and dived straight in. It was pretty much everything I wanted, the storyline spans hundreds of years thanks to the technology used but starts not a million minutes from where we are now and the characters never fail to be human as we would expect them to be. The mix and growth of technologies was fascinating and seemed highly appropriate for the narrative and the culture shock experienced by the crew of the Endeavour allowed for some mesmerising story telling. That said I lost a little interest as the story moved into its final plot stage, strangely enough the emergence of events from Earth's past and the consequences jarred me out of the wonder of the cosmos but the novel finished strong so I've got to recommend it for someone looking for a more intellectual themed story which retains the courage and bravery of humanity at its best.

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Rebellion by Joshua Dalzelle

Rebellion (Omega Force #11)Rebellion by Joshua Dalzelle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Omega Force returns as the galaxy continues to be manipulated by the AI known as the "machine" and Jason perhaps always willing to accept responsibility for his actions now sees that he has to fully commit his friends and colleagues to a major undertaking. All out rebellion against the forces of the AI including the might of the ConFed will just be the beginning, there can be no half measures, the AI has to be opposed and in a way to draw as much attention to it as possible. It has already engineered the fall of the mighty Eshquarian empire but a significant number of fleet units fled into the depths of space, the Eshquarian military really did plan for every contingency. Will these ships along with some of the more shady but in the know elements allow Omega Force to strike back and shed light onto the machine or has it already out thought them and made preparations?
The ongoing Omega Force series shows not sign of slowing down as our erstwhile crew of the Phoenix continue to skirt the boundaries but retain everything which makes them the "good guys". Lucky continues his slow rehabilitation and the expanding secondary character lineup is getting stronger allowing Joshua to provide more varied story telling. I read through this novel very quickly, you know when you get to the end and your first thought is "was that it?" and you realise the novel is not short you just got lost in the story. No great surprise to say I am waiting impatiently for the next novel in the series and the second "Marine" novel which is set in the same universe with some overlap.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Armageddon by Craig Alanson

Armageddon (Expeditionary Force Book 8)Armageddon by Craig Alanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The eighth novel in the Expeditionary Force series exceeded my expectations to a level then even Skippy would have trouble calculating. Any long running series has to deal with the need to keep things interesting without falling foul of repeating plot points or making things too stupid to retain the narrative which captured the reader in the first place, Armageddon achieved this.
I will admit I was a little lost with all the talk about their previous mission (convinced myself I had skipped a novel) but once I had that figured out I fell right back into the swing of things with the merry band of pirates. I am not going to go into any plot points because well nothing I can say would be a surprise to a regular reader and if you are not yet been lured into the adventures of Joe and Skippy then by all means grab a copy of Columbus Day and welcome to the family.
So my review, this novel was exceptional in that it delivered everything you would want from this series but presented it with icing and a bow, maybe even balloons. That said the knife got twisted good a proper but again you can't realistically have this sort of long running tale without the fact that there are consequences to actions and even inactions.
There are not many novels that really make me want to keep reading be it late a night or during a break at work but every time I put the kindle down I was desperate to delve right back into the story. I'm not sure how the consequences of the events in this novel will pan out, maybe in a manner which reflects the changing status of the galaxy but I know I am going to enjoy it.
My hat is tipped to Craig for this well written and immensely enjoyable novel.

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Sunday, 18 August 2019

Battleground by Joshua Dalzelle

Battleground (Unification War Trilogy, Book 1) (Black Fleet Saga 7)Battleground (Unification War Trilogy, Book 1) by Joshua Dalzelle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Humanity has survived yet another interstellar conflict but its greatest challenge is emerging as the Eastern Star Alliance having broken away from the rest of the human worlds sees an opportunity to claim resources thanks to their insignificant action and negligent losses during the last war. The Confederation sends out Admiral Jackson Wolfe along with a task force to "show the flag" as it were but they are unaware of the long planned objective of the ESA to use the defeat and capture of Wolfe to encourage the drive for an all out invasion on their part and provoke a rash reaction on the part of the Confederation. As the military of all sides play out a game that one half remains unaware it is rigged the spies and politicians play their own game but when the weapons are unleashed all bets are off and survival is as important as victory.
The first book of a new trilogy within the Black Fleet saga starts strong and takes us deep into the new interstellar dynamic which at this point is conflict within humanity. Yet we still see that as always events turn on the decisions and actions of individuals and the narrative continues to play that aspect strong. An enjoyable addition to the series and looking forward to the next novel.

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Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Others by Jay Allan

The Others (Blood on the Stars Book 13)The Others by Jay Allan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Others make their presence known to the Hegemony while Admiral Tyler Barron acting as emissary for the Rim worlds visits the capital of his enemy to ratify their words in terms of the threat the Others represent. What he sees and what he experiences convinces him that even together the entire military of the human race in this region of the galaxy may not be able to defeat the Others. Meanwhile the Confederation Senate (rebuilt despite millions being homeless and ongoing food shortages) are complacent to the threat leaving Admiral Winters, Gary Holsten and Andi Lafarge to force their cooperation and to sell the people that after only a year of "peace" the war machine has to once more spin up despite the ongoing problems. The union under Gaston Villieneuve is still in turmoil and the Alliance like the Confederation desperate to rebuild their military but there is no time, the Others are real, they are a threat and they make the Hegemony conflict look like a childs scuffle.

The latest installment from the Blood on the Stars series by Jay Allan adds a major new player to the galactic mix. The Others who have been mentioned regularly as a motivating factor for the existence and drive of the Hegemony have returned at yes their military capabilities eclipse anything we have seen so far. The question of their genesis has yet to be answered but at this point it would not be difficult to imagine an offshoot of the former galactic empire going down the eugenic/augmentation route and with more retained knowledge of the empire tech being generations ahead of even the Hegemony. I have to say I took no pleasure from the Union aspect of this novel, perhaps just bored with Gaston Villieneuve and that culture but the Others are significantly different to keep me interested overall.

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