Sunday, 29 April 2018

No Surrender - SCE #4

No Surrender (Star Trek: S.C.E., #4)No Surrender SCE #4
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth omnibus release from the Star Fleet Corp of Engineers series contains four stories continuing the timeline as set down in the original release of the individual tales.

The first story is "No Surrender" written by Jeff Mariotte in which the Da Vinci's Captain has a face from his past come back to haunt him as the Kursican Orbital Incarceration Platform suffers some damage and while not part of the Federation there are Federation citizens onboard and thus the SCE are tasked with securing the facility.
In Caveat Emptor written by Ian Edginton and Mike Collins a Ferengi trading vessel is abandoned by her Captain and when picked up by the Da Vinci they learn that a piece of technology from Beta III is involved. The Ferengi crew seem pleased to see these new arrivals but there is more going onboard as the landing party soon find out.
Past Life written by Robert Greenberger has a soon to be Federation member world request help after they discover a piece of technology which may have been buried on their world long before their race gained sentience. The concept of a third party guiding or intervening in the development of the Evoran people causes civil unrest and so the Da Vinci has to balance learning the purpose of this device and how to maintain relations between this worlds people and the plant with the Federation.
The final story is Oaths written by Glenn Hauman and deals with an serious outbreak on Sherman's Planet which has the potential to spread amongst the stars thanks to it's long incubation rate which allows the contagion to spread before symptoms can be identified. Dr. Elizabeth Lense has the whole world on her shoulders and we learn she had reasons for being assigned on to the Da Vinci and the story is equally balanced between the plot and a character piece.

Once again this omnibus offers a variety of Star Trek stories making use of the abilities the SCE bring to the franchise. My favourite story is probably Oaths as I had not realised Dr. Elizabeth Lense was the character first brought to screen in Deep Space Nine and how the revelations of Bashir would impact others within the service. Former Captains gone bad, Kirk's never look back philosophy and truth versus dogma all form the basis for some good Trek.

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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Superhuman by Evan Currie

SuperhumanSuperhuman by Evan Currie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who would have thought living on a small ball of rock orbiting a rather average star near the end of one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way was a good thing. Well when an intelligence that sees the galaxy as its own domain and views organic life as an infestation and plague to be eradicated at all costs not being noticed is a rather good thing.
A probe detects an anomaly on a world near its designated target and sends word back, life is flourishing and is taking steps to populate it's solar system and then blossom out into the galaxy, this can not be allowed and long standing protocols are enacted. The probe enters orbit of Earth and selects subjects for its first experiments, it acts and then watches as the mutations created in the DNA of members of the dominant species begin their work. From the viewpoint of former Marine Captain Alexander Hale and his friends from various branches of the US military it's just the first evening of a reunion at a local camping/carnival ground. Things start to go wrong when find themselves in the middle of a biker war as two gangs fight for dominance and local and federal law enforcement are getting involved. As the firefight threatens to escalate the probe acts and a handful of the people awake with no injuries but others are ripped apart, body parts scattered throughout the area.
Unbeknown to the survivors of the event their world has changed forever and the choices they will make may determine if the human race can survive the manipulation by this cold and efficient alien intelligence.
Superhuman was a fantastic read, I picked it up and pretty much didn't put it down until I was done. The writing and story are fast paced yet the characters are well developed and fleshed out and you never feel cheated of back story or relevant plot detail. The action is well envisioned and as a fan of both tv and movie superhero media I was easily able to envision the conflict and actions of these enhanced beings and in Alex Hale we have a genuine "Captain America" type hero and with the appropriate "human" villain and uber nemesis.
A highly enjoyable and fun read and looking forward to the sequel and may pick up some of Evan's other work.

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Invincible by Christopher Nuttall

Invincible (Ark Royal Book 12)Invincible by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Invincible is the twelfth novel in the Ark Royal series written by Christopher Nuttall and like recent additions takes place a few years after the proceeding novel and with predominantly new characters. While the overall "world" of the series remains intact this allows the author to expand the scope of the stories but retains the core political and technological structure.
In this novel the British like many of the major powers are having economic issues thanks to the hell for leather expansion and ship building after the two recent interstellar wars. A cold realisation is dawning that the Earth nations can not treat the galaxy as a playground and hope no other alien races are out there who could or will threaten mankind.
A research and monitoring station in orbit around the young British colony world of Wensleydale detects a fusion power spike at the edge of the solar system, scans indicate a sublight vessel probably a generation ship from the unexplored regions of space. HMS Invincible the latest addition to the Navy is sent to investigate along with limited support from other Powers, what will they find, a new enemy or a new friend...
Invincible sets up a new story arc within the Ark Royal series and while I will no doubt continue to read the series this latest incarnation lacked some of the drive and impetus of previous novels. I wasn't all that enamoured with some of the new characters and well let's be honest mankind is facing another interstellar war, this is getting a little repetitive :)

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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Dead in the Water by Barry J. Hutchison

Dead in the Water (Dan Deadman Space Detective, #3)Dead in the Water by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dead in the Water is the third standalone novel featuring the deceased private detective Dan Deadman who along with Oledol (rescued from the Malware) and Artur (bit of a mystery) solve crime in the Down Here. However much to Dan's own confusion he seems to be doing more to protect the poor and downtrodden in his city then taking well paying cases from scum bags. Take for example his current case, tracking down those responsible for the brutal deaths of 134 men, women and children (of all species) in a shopping mall. It's not paying the bills and during his investigation he also gets evicted and has to deal with arms dealers, the Tribunal, general bureaucracy and old myths told to children that have way too much of reality about them to make him comfortable. It's no life being dead but there are perks and Dan to his dismay has to much of the "hero" gene than he likes to admit.

This latest installment of the Space Team spin off series is easily the most complex and mature writing for the character, the story has weight but never forgets its roots in the comedic scifi genre. Oledol and Artur both get a lot more development thanks mainly to the introduction of characters they interact with although the giant furry penis (don't ask) may give me nightmares :)
The ending was unexpected but in hindsight totally fitting and opens the door to an exciting new adventure. Dead in the Water is an excellent addition to the Dan Deadman lineup and Space Team universe and while may not being the most "fun" story is perhaps the best so far.

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Saturday, 7 April 2018

Viper Mark II

Eaglemoss have released their first model from the new Battlestar Galactica range, the US get the option of a subscription (like the Trek ships) but here we have to buy as and when they are released. Now they are not cheap but I've got to admit they are excellent quality.











Battlestar Galactica Viper Mark II By Hero Collector

Digging Deep: An O.C.L.T. Novel by Aaron Rosenberg

Digging Deep: An O.C.L.T. NovelDigging Deep: An O.C.L.T. Novel by Aaron Rosenberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Far beneath the bustle of New York the darkness gives birth to an intruder, the first to encounter this invader are the denizens of the subway and sewer tunnels who are known as "mole people", the flee in terror bodies torn and bloodied and it follows...
Digging Deep is the latest novel which is part of the the greater "world" provided by the O.C.L.T. series of books which has been written by a number of authors and often share characters. I read the omnibus release of four novels a while back and enjoyed them immensely so was delighted to see a new book in this "world" written by Aaron Rosenberg an author I've read before. The narrative and plot elements aren't exactly new but as with all media the tropes are in themselves not a bad thing if presented well and Aaron gives us a very atmospheric novel mixing the main characters together and keeping everything moving at a fast pace. It adds a lot to the story that this isn't some sort of bug hunt on spaceship or abandoned base but rather a life and death adventure in and around a civilian filled major metropolis and the gruesome events are having to be played out in as much secrecy as can be achieved. It's also a bonus that besides from one character no one is really equipped for this sort of threat and to see them rise to the occasion and support each other is another factor which increased my enjoyment of the novel.
Hopefully this world that the various authors have created will be exploited further, I know I want to read more and the openness of O.C.L.T allows many types of story to be told.

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The White Fleet by Jay Allan

The White Fleet (Blood on the Stars #7)The White Fleet by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The war between the Union and the allied forces of the Confederation and Alliance is over. The Confederation Senate quick to appease the public and massaged by self interest sign peace accords which gut their military but leave a "weak" Union with no further recriminations. Elements of the Admiralty and Intelligence services knowing the mistakes that were made and continue to be made send the cream of the military led by the Dauntless with Admiral Barron deep into the badlands to seek out technology that could aid them in what will no doubt be a future conflict with the despotic Union. There are mysteries and wonders to be found in the remains of the former galaxy wide human civilisation that fell into chaos and destruction and as the White Fleet flies deeper into the heart of the galaxy they are noticed....
The White Fleet is the seventh novel in the series and as I often say if you have read the books so far that will certainly not be disappointed with this installment. Regular characters with circumstances obviously changing remain as strong as ever and new storylines open up as the military and political landscape changes. The novel doesn't quite hit 5 stars for me because I found the covert plot arc on the Confederation capital to be maybe too close to what is happening in the modern world to be entertaining but events in the badlands are certainly hitting the mark. A solid addition to the series and gotta say the book cover is beautiful :)

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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Columbus Day by Craig Alanson

Columbus Day (Expeditionary Force, #1)Columbus Day by Craig Alanson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Earth was alone until that day flashes in the sky herald the arrival of an alien species that we later learn were known as the Ruhar, they struck our industry and infrastructure but left the cities mostly intact and then their soldiers arrived. Jo Bishop (former US Army) was back home looking forward to celebrating Columbus Day but finds himself and a few friends engaging in a cat and mouse maneuver with the alien occupants of a damaged troop ship but when it looks like the end is nigh the sky erupts again as second alien fleet arrives and engages the first.
The Earth is saved and in gratitude the world governments commit ground forces to aid the second alien species (Kristang) in their ongoing galaxy wide conflict but the men and women who journey to the stars are in for a rude awakening, not everything is as advertised and the Earth and her people are little more than pawns in a greater game.
Columbus Day was a purchase based purely on reading the blurb when the Amazon algorithm decided I would like it and you know this time it got it right. The central character of Joe Bishop was written well and with enough flaws to make him the everyday former soldier drawn back into what he's really best at and to exercise his ethics in a theatre that has little time for compassion and justice. The novel takes its time to create the world the series is based in and of course that always pays off so when the scope of the narrative expands greatly it all fits together well and doesn't stretch the bounds of credibility. I'll certainly be reading the rest of the series but not right away, there is a lot on my to read list but when I'm ready they are on the kindle good to go.



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