Sunday, 28 May 2017

Revolution by Joshua Dalzelle

Revolution (Omega Force, #9)Revolution by Joshua Dalzelle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Explorations: First Contact

Explorations: First ContactExplorations: First Contact by Isaac Hooke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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.

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

House Rewatch

House Season 2


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.

Favourite Episodes:

  • Autopsy
  • House Vs. God
  • No Reason




Gryphon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Gryphon Precinct (Dragon Precinct)Gryphon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.


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Goblin Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Goblin Precinct (Dragon Precinct)Goblin Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Unicorn Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Unicorn PrecinctUnicorn Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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.

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Dragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Dragon PrecinctDragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cliff's End is a city state ruled by Lord Albin and Lady Meerka who have a rather progressive Castle Guard as in their guard spend less time actually guarding the castle and more dealing with the day to day major and minor crimes of the city which are many and varied as the city is home to humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves and many other species. Within the castle guard are the six Detectives who "police" the city which is subdivided mainly along economic lines into precincts named Gryphon (The Castle), Unicorn (High End Residential), Dragon (Mid Range, Commerce), Goblin (Lower End, Markets) and Mermaid (Docks). At the Dog and Duck tavern a bunch of Heroes take rooms intent on a new quest as they believe their long dead nemesis an evil wizard named Chalmraik has resurrected, mighty where their deeds so when one turns up the next day very much dead there is much consternation. When a second is killed political pressure begins to mount on Lieutenants Danthres Tresyllione and Torin ban Wyvald who are getting little help from the survivors of the questing party, the residents of the city or the Brotherhood of Wizards who categorically state that Chalmraik is dead and has very much not resurrected, they would know if such powerful magics had been used but the crime scene indicates magic was probably the cause of the death even when the Guards ME (Magical Examiner) can not detect its use but the Brotherhood are sure, Chalmraik is dead, definitely, positively, dead.
Dragon Precinct paints a wonderful picture of Cliff's End and the society that makes the city come alive, of course the basic structure is crime procedural and the narrative style has been well established but makes itself very amenable to a fantasy setting with one or two tweaks. I love the idea that the ME uses magic to "peel back" a locale which can offer up clues and other information which in our world would be done with prints, DNA and sourcing security cams etc. The Guards themselves are an eclectic mixture of working men and women with a variety of traits from the professional and detached to the driven and of course one or two just working out the last few years until retirement and a pension. The crime and associated mystery is entertaining and you are not really expected to become an amateur sleuth to get the most out of it, the events are set out and the players come and go as the story unfolds leading to a satisfying resolution.
A very strong start to an ongoing series of novels from Keith.

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Sunday, 7 May 2017

A Dragon at the Gate by Michael G. Munz

A Dragon at the Gate (The New Aeneid Cycle #3)A Dragon at the Gate by Michael G. Munz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Dragon At The Gate is the third and final novel in the The New Aeneid Cycle by Michael G. Munz. Michael Flynn the young "freelancer" has certainly got more than he bargained for as he deals with the politics and economics of a Corporation controlled world and city of Northgate in particular. His journey amongst other freelancers and the cybernetic reality of the business has led him into fights for his life, decisions which end in death for others and the ever complex association with the clandestine Agents of Aeneas. Returning from the moon and all the revelations that brought with it did not provide a respite, a battle is being fought not only between the various Corporations for control of the technology found in the crashed spaceship but also a new player is making it's presences known, it's first target the Agents of Aeneas and then to achieve its goals anyone and everyone that stands in its way. As friends and comrades fall in the battle for humanity's future startling truths are brought into the light and yes there really is a dragon at the gate.
A Dragon at the Gate is an entertaining final chapter to the series, it took me longer to get around to reading the novel thanks to other literatury commitments but I was soon back upto speed and I was amazed when after one particular plot unfolded I glanced at the percentage read and found I was only half way through. I got a real buzz of expectation knowing that Michael would no doubt have raised the stakes and narrative to greater heights and I wasn't disappointed. This novel probably strays more into pure scifi then the cyber/dystopian future when compared to the first two novels but that's more of a payoff, there is plenty here for a reader who prizes that narrative and the bar is raised for fans of the more alien themed scifi. It really is a very well written novel and satisfying conclusion but I have to admit the epilogue had me frowning, not in bad way just an itch I couldn't scratch.
I can highly recommend the novel and by extension The New Aeneid Cycle trilogy.

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Raise The Titanic! by Clive Cussler

Raise The Titanic!Raise The Titanic! by Clive Cussler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Raise The Titanic! is perhaps the most well known Dirk Pitt adventure thanks in part to the failed movie which in hindsight never really stood a chance in depicting the events in the book to any accurate degree. Of course many years later another Clive Cussler Pitt novel was adapted and while technology has evolved to meet the demands of narrative action it too failed at the box office.
However Raise The Titanic! is a solid if not quite spectacular action/adventure story with intrigue and spy craft twists and turns. I was mildly surprised that it wasn't as complex as I recall but Clive's writing style evolved over the series of the novels and this was fairly early on in the adventures of Dirk Pitt.
So a highly secret "think tank" have come with a viable anti-missile defence system but the radioactive element required to power the system is a rare earth mineral called Byzantium. The only known source was believed to have illegally mined on Russian soil in 1912 and ultimately shipped to the states on board the RMS Titanic. The cold war and threat of soviet ICBM's explains the President providing huge resources to NUMA to raise the sunken cruise liner but the Russian intelligence services gain wind of the defence system and put into motion a plan to steal the ship (if and when she is raised) and worse case to destroy the ship and the mineral.
So that's the basic story which thankfully is written and paced well, the characters are all interesting without too much depth being required and the interaction between the main plot elements worked pretty well. I enjoyed reading the book once again but it did lack the complexity of later novels which isn't a negative but underlines the growth of the author's writing and maturing of the characters over time.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

House Rewatch

House Season One

A very strong opening season for this medical drama although if you tuned in for something along the lines of ER or Saint Elsewhere you might have been shocked. The show has been described as a variant on Sherlock Holmes and given the flawed but brilliant character of Greg House and the mysteries he solves with the aid of his staff you can see the reasoning.

The series kicks off with the pilot subtitled "Everybody Lies" which centers on a school teacher who collapses in class and proceeds for at least 35 minutes to confuse the medical team. Yes the formula for the show is set into concrete straight away but you know that never became an issue, after a while you knew what you were going to get and at it's heart it is a procedural with fascinating regular and guest characters. Robin Tunney was excellent as the first central patient and it shown to be important that House (Hugh Laurie) has someone capable of bouncing his performance off of and she delivers. The supporting cast of Lisa Edelstein (Dr. Lisa Cuddy), Omar Epps (Dr. Eric Foreman), Robert Sean Leonard (Dr. James Wilson), Jennifer Morrison (Dr. Allison Cameron) and Jesse Spencer (Dr. Robert Chase) are all exceptionally good, in many ways they all play straight roles and the butt of House's charm, arrogance, wit and sarcasm. Of course as the season goes on the characters are all fleshed out and a very strong dynamic builds within the cast and surprisingly adding recurring characters into the mix works very well.

I enjoyed every episode of the first season, wasn't bored or indifferent to any of them and my favourite episode of the series is in this season (Three Stories) and picking three favourites was tricky yet not as difficult as I imagined as a few just stood out in the crowd.

Favourite Episodes

  • Three Stories
  • Poison
  • Honeymoon