Sunday, 31 March 2019

Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido

Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandidoWithout a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a fan of the writings of Keith R.A. DeCandido so this collection of some of his short stories across various genres was an easy sell and also an ideal way to introduce someone new to his worlds. Some of the stories are quick and precise while a few take their time to set up a narrative and delve more deeply into the characters, you will certainly find some that appeal and truth be told none of these stories failed to hit their mark.

Partners in Crime
The Ballad of Big Charlie
A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar
Under the King's Bridge
The Stone of the First High Pontiff
Seven Mile Race
Editorial Interference
Sunday in the Park with Spot
Wild Bill Got Shot
30
Behold a White Tricycle

Always great to get a Precinct story (Partners In Crime) and the humour is never far away in other stories but more "serious" like "30" and "The Ballad of Big Charlie" were welcome and then you get something like "Behold A White Tricycle" to wrap up the collection and you just wonder how a mind can come up with this stuff :)
My favourite, well it may have to be "Editorial Interference" because it was a classic crime/mystery which maintained a logical foundation but with the motive being just skewed enough to suit the anthology. Like I said though, you will find a story (more than one) that ticks every box and while a few you may never read again the value of this collection is still high both in terms of price and as a platform for Keith's creativity.

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Hunt for Reduk Topa by Barry J. Hutchison

The Hunt for Reduk Topa (Space Team, #12)The Hunt for Reduk Topa by Barry J. Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Space Team return in the twelfth book of the series "The Hunt For Reduk Topa" and well having few friends in the immediate vicinity they and by they I am mean Cal decide to explore a new sector of space. Naturally Cal doesn't really understand that even with FTL space is big and are we there yet doesn't cut it with the rest of the crew. Unexpectedly they are ripped from warp and find themselves exploring a derelict spaceship and then having to deal with system wide broadcast networks whose output is even by Earth's standards not good apart from Puppetopia (thanks to the subliminal mind control) and The Hunt.
The Hunt is the pride of the network, the worst of the worse are hunted by cold blooded yet theatrical killers (Yeah even Cal referenced The Running Man) and the upcoming special involving space pirate Reduk Topa is destined to be a financial and critical success. You know where this is heading, when Cal and Space Team even glance at a well oiled machine things are going to go boing and they do.
Barry once again delivers a very funny adventure but retains some of the darker elements that well real life can often through into the mix. Miz and Tyrra (both last of their species) add a strong family style dynamic to the crew and the relationship between Cal and Loren doesn't help Miz either. As per usual Cal will lead the team into chaos and opportunity and as is often the case the bonds formed (despite themselves) remain strong if presenting themselves in unexpected situations.
This was a pleasure to read and always good to see a long running series still able to surprise and entertain.

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies by Michael G. Munz

Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies (Zeus Is Dead, #2)Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies by Michael G. Munz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Gods returned, it didn't go as well as many would have expected especially for the murdered Zeus who was the victim of a coup which allowed the pantheon to re-enter the lives of humanity. Surprisingly many of the gods themselves came to think this whole messing with the mortal world was too much of a hassle and as is the norm heroes emerged to battle incredible odds and restore the balance. Not long after when things had kinda settled down again the dead began to rise from the grave, the mortuary or wherever and well we all know what a hassle that can be. Tracy (daughter of Zeus) along with Leif (heroes both) see their movie deal die a death and along with former God Athena and former Ninja Templar Ryan Seth Sloude they search for the cause and solution of the zombie plague. Sounds simple except the gods are busy dealing with celestial beings who are intent on searching the Earth for well something and they may just have the god killer that was created for Zeus to handle the Titans, tricky and diplomacy was never a strong suit for the Gods.
Zeus Is Undead: This One Has Zombies is an excellent follow up to the first novel bringing back our favourite humans, half humans and gods in an epic quest to save humanity and defuse the threat of these beings from somewhere else one of which bumped "parts" with Zeus long long ago.
The story flows with pace and never lets up with the humour both in situations which call for the direct injection of a laugh and those that on the surface do not but hey read the title you are not getting an over dramatic dark toned tome here. Seriously when the zombies stop craving brains and now stumble around proclaiming "grains" and carrying a pretzel or having drunk beer makes you number one snack food you are in for laughs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, maybe should have reread the first as it took a few chapters to get back up to speed but it was a blast, over the top fun with gods doing godly things and making things worse and humans trying their best and ending up in situations far worse than before.

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Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Grand Alliance by Jay Allan

The Grand Alliance (Blood on the Stars Book 11)The Grand Alliance by Jay Allan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Confederation capital world has fallen but even so the forces fighting the Hermegony struck a huge blow by destroying a huge swath of battleships and more importantly wiping out the supply/repair facility that was protected well behind the front lines. As the fleet harrassess the resupply of the Hegemony fleet around Megara it soon becomes apparent that playing for time to rebuild the fleet around the Iron Belt worlds will fail, reinforcements to the enemy are increasing and the longer they wait the stronger the Hegemony will be. Admiral Barron decides to act and forces his allies to launch a strike against Megara, an all or nothing battle that the enemy will not see coming.
The Grand Alliance is another strong addition to the Blood on the Stars series, the continuing story growing and developing over each novel. New characters are introduced, after all this is a series that attempts to reflect the reality of conflict and thus people we are invested in die along with those that are just the cannon fodder. As expected the battle scenes are very well written, the interaction between the main characters remains solid and supports the narrative and if you are like me and have read the series from book 1 you will be more than satisfied.

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The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey

The Dragon Corps (The Dragon Corps, #1)The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Dragon Corps were the answer to the problem facing the Alliance when dealing with galaxy wide demands for military intervention be it on a small scale or large. The very size of the Alliance domain meant that conflicts could be over before assets were organised so semi autonomous small units were created from the very best of humanity and enhanced within the boundaries of the law. These Dragon units were allowed to investigate and prosecute whatever they deemed fit, they had the full backing of Alliance Intelligence who often supplied specific missions and overall no one would question their honour, competency and value to the galaxy. The only stain on the Corps and the Alliance as a whole was the world of Ymir, stolen from its people by the "Warlord" backed by 50000 mercenaries and all efforts at interdiction have failed including losing a full carrier on a disastrous planetary assault.
Major Talon Rift and his Dragon Corps team have seen more missions to free Ymir fail than most and it has become an obsession, missions planned by Alliance Intelligence while making sense at the time never pay off with ultimate success, yes military units of the Warlord are destroyed, assets and support curtailed but the final push never materializes. As the resistance on Ymir grows once again the Warlord reaches out to the blackmarket weapon suppliers and another opportunity emerges for Talon and his people to get a look into the workings of the system the supports the Warlord both on Ymir and within the Alliance itself. Talon and his people will not rest while a world's population is enslaved and nothing is more dangerous than Dragons who are motivated by justice and the need to avenge the innocent.
The Dragon Corps by Natalie Grey was bought on an impulse and turned out to be a hugely entertaining read, the world she created was compelling with clear cut good guys and bad guys (the lines do not always stay clear cut as the series progresses). A good blend of narrative and action set pieces along with a mix of characters keeps the story progressing at a breakneck pace and I found myself totally immersed in the novel very very quickly. I was very delighted to be able to jump to the second book in the series and even more so when I realised there were many more books ready to go (benefit of coming to a series late in the day). I can highly recommend "The Dragon Corps" for fans of military scifi and the echo of current Special Forces doesn't hurt at all, the added political, economic and ethical dimensions just makes the story even better.


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