Sunday, 24 February 2019

Para Bellum by Christopher Nuttall

Para Bellum (Ark Royal Book 13)Para Bellum by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The 13th novel in this long running series arrives with "Para Bellum" as humanity faces another threat from beyond their borders one which eclipses the more traditional enemies the human race have faced so far. An insidious virus which can take control of beings and by extension ships and worlds threatens the human race but with so many ships and people how to prevent something so small getting an unseen foothold. That is the task given to the major powers of the Earth and directly to the task force assigned to return to the frontier and deal with the catastrophic first contact. The Russians have allied themselves with the fleet but with an agenda, they need to find the Dezhnev which made its own first contact unaware of the threat they faced and it may be they have sentenced humanity to death through their arrogance, desperation and greed.
Captain Alice Campbell currently the only survivor of exposure to the virus is deployed with the fleet, not fully trusted (even by herself) her insights may just give them an edge and indeed by using this character as a focal point Christopher maintains his strong character based writing while not denying the readers a decent amount of action and suspense between the stars. Another entertaining addition to the Ark Royal series and well worth picking up the first novel in the series and seeing if like me you get hooked.

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The Street Martyr by T. Fox Dunham

The Street MartyrThe Street Martyr by T. Fox Dunham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Street Martyr is the second novel I have read by T. Fox Dunham and unlike Mercy moves the darkness and depravity away from the more supernatural influence to that derived from power and money and everything which goes hand in hand with individuals who believe they are untouchable. Vincent Grant is a low level drug dealer partnered with Louie (friends from being boys) doing their business in the employee of the local crime boss in and around Philadelphia. A request from Vincent's priest (and friend) has him paying a visit to another priest who has been abusing children, a beat down by Vincent was delivered by the next day the priest is found beheaded and brutally disfigured in the local park. Pursued by the police and organised crime Vincent has few friends and forced to merge himself into the remnants of humanity he used to exploit reveals some startling truths.
The Street Martyr was an entertaining crime drama, the world that was painted was sufficiently bleak and realistic to understand the choices made by many of the main characters and the ultimate choice to embrace the darkness or the light was well paced and followed a logical if brutal path. A well written story showing us the depths the human soul can fall through both by circumstance and by choice.

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Mercy by T. Fox Dunham

MercyMercy by T. Fox Dunham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

William Saint was dying, slowly but surely and his cancer was not the only route to his demise, guilt and well being human added to his burden and turning down any home care resulted in him rotting away in his home. Others had plans for him though and after emergency services broke down his door he was taken to Mercy hospital but surely no one these days were taken there, a run down and decaying structure long past its prime. In hindsight probably a fitting destination even with the hallucinations that begin to plague Willie and the ghosts of memory, it was Mercy that took the love of his life Kylie a year before but here and now he feels her presence and that of a darkness creeping along the halls.
Mercy was not my usual genre these days (supernatural/horror) but I wanted to read some of the novels by Fox and this seemed a suitable choice and I think I chose wisely. The novel is a comfortable read, the characters and situations are easy to get into and the visceral world that is built is wonderfully compelling. The style reminds me a little of the early work of Dean R. Koontz who I rated highly in this genre and the pacing kept me turning the page despite none of the characters being overly likeable.

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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Hal Spacejock Omnibus One by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock Omnibus OneHal Spacejock Omnibus One by Simon Haynes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hal Spacejock, just the name envisions adventures that defy belief and well this omnibus was a bargain and I never turn my back on a good title, blurb or ebook value for money. The first three novels in the series A Robot Named Clunk, Second Course and Just Desserts are included in this kindle edition and I started reading and just kept reading to the point where I forget it was a trilogy and was delighted when the first story finished and the second was on the next page.
Hal is a put upon small time space freighter captain who is up to his neck in debt and finally has to take a contract which lumbers him with a robot co-pilot, of course a shady job brings all manner of complications into Hal's simple life as he tries to stay ahead of debt collectors, shipping agents, customs personnel and all manner of things inherent in a ship owner who does not know how to navigate and beyond pressing a button labelled "land" or "launch" has no real piloting skills.
These three stories in this omnibus were great fun, Hal is not a great guy for sure but compared to most of the people he has to deal with he comes across as the "good" guy and of course Clunk and the ships AI add greatly to the chemistry of the team.
I've already bought the second omnibus and looking forward to reading the further adventures of this flying disaster zone.

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Mermaid Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Mermaid PrecinctMermaid Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had the pleasure of reading the Precinct novels by Keith R.A. DeCandido for many years so when this latest novel was launched via kickstarter it was an easy sell to contribute and patiently wait for the results, it was worth the wait.
The demise of the city state of Barlin has drastically increased the number of people living in Cliff's End and pushing the city guard beyond their limits. The Lord and Lady of the city have allowed the creation of new precincts and an increase in manpower although not enough and the pressure to keep the peace only increases when the undercurrent of tension explodes and leaves a man murdered. To complicate matters the Pirate Queen is also dead, believed killed and Lieutenant Danthres Tresyllione and her partner Torin ban Wyvald investigate.
Mermaid Precinct builds successfully on the novels that preceded it taking the well constructed locations within Cliff's End and the people there in and adding the complexities as the native population have to absorb a significant influx of refugees which bring about shortages in all areas including jobs and a clash of cultures even over as something as trivial as beverage choice. The Pirate Queen plot is a more traditional who done it as we learn about the delicate balance this woman did her work including risking her ship and crew to save the half breed children destined to die simply for existing. This also allows us to learn more about Danthres but even here we see the clash of expectations and prejudice rise to colour the investigation.
A very worthy addition to the Precinct novels and while you do not have to read them in any order to enjoy them there is certainly a benefit in picking up the first novel (Dragon Precinct) and going from there, not forgetting the short stories that bridge the gaps between the novels.



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Sunday, 10 February 2019

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies WarShattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Humanity went to the stars and found no signs of intelligent technological life, low level animal and plant life was abundant and colonisation went smoothly, they thought they were all alone, they were wrong. The Provance now a simple cargo hauler (formly a decommissioned battle cruiser) flashed alarms after being struck by an unknown force, out in the void a crystalline structure curved around the planet as a blinding light enveloped the colony, with no option to run the ships drives were activated and it jumped to the Morrow system. The warning went out on old fashioned radio (modern communications were down) and the aliens followed, the next victims of an unknown aggressor were the people of Morrow and it didn't end there.

Shattered Dreams: The Shardies War by Bud Sparhawk was funded via kickstarter and I received my copy as a backer. The novel is harder scifi than I usually choose to read leaning more towards strong character development and situation/circumstance over out and out action set pieces. That said the drama works well when combined with the threat of these mysterious aliens and the use of characters seen over decades works surprisingly well. The core of the narrative is how far will you go to survive, we have a handful of people on Morrow, a soldier who was there at the beginning and will be there at the end and finally humanity itself faced with the dilemma that to counter the alien capabilities those who face them will have to lose what they are if any chance of victory is to be achieved. A recommend book but not a overly easily page turner, you have to commit to get the most out of the novel.

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Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Man Who Broke the Moon

The Man Who Broke the Moon: A Space Opera AdventureThe Man Who Broke the Moon: A Space Opera Adventure by Michael James Ploof
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Captain Jason Eriksson was a hero to many and alas a mass murder to the rest (there was no real middle ground when it came to opinions on his actions during the conflict between Earth and the Moon colony). Now retired and living the life on Saint Croix along with his, well companion is too strong a word as is advisor or protector but the artificial PAL 2000 (robot) attempts to keep Jason from doing anything too drastic, he fails quite often. This was one of those times as Jason is dodging the murderous intent of the local crime/drug kingpin who took offense at Jason screwing his wife. Events however catch up with Jason as he is called back into service to command the very latest in starship technology (a lot lifted from alien tech) and to go make contact in their home system thanks to alien FTL tech and if that went poorly then to make sure Earth would never be troubled again. Some would say Jason and his crew were the best the Earth had, others would say the most expendable but always accompanied by his nightmares of lost family, decisions that led to millions dying and guilt enough for the whole world Jason and his people fly into the unknown.
The Man Who Broke The Moon pretty had me at the title, I was always going to read a novel with such a grandiose and pulpy title and over all it was enjoyable. Jason being a tormented character with a death wish it has to be said was interesting and those around him fleshed out to give the narrative some meat on its bones. I have to say I liked the second half of the novel more than the first, the time on the ship and the discoveries made were fascinating and tipped the balance on choosing to buy the second novel in the series when it is released.

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