Stargate Archives

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

 

Moving Pictures (Discworld #10)Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What would Hollywood be like if it was on the Discworld, well we find out in Moving Pictures when the "wild idea" is released and not for the first time upon the disc. First it captures the imaginations of the alchemists who soon come up with projectors, cameras and film plus bang-grains which seem to be the ideal food for watching moving pictures. The deserted coast of Holywood is now the home to the rapidly expanding industry and draws in Dwarves, Trolls and any other who has something to contribute be it behind the scenes (Dibbler as a movie mogul) or in front of the camera or simply waiting for their big break by holding horses or waiting tables.
Victor Tugelbend (Victor Maraschino) a student wizard is drawn towards Holywood after watching a moving picture in Ankh-Morpork, he has the right "look" for the movies and soon along with Theda Withel (Ginger) become the defacto stars of the silver screen and the only couple who could front the epic "Blown Away". However when reality is manipulated by the moving pictures it reacts in the same way as when influenced by magic and the denizens of the dungeon dimensions take notice...
Moving Pictures is a fun read, well paced and entertaining from start to finish. We are given a direct analogy of a real world entity upon the disc which is something Terry adopts with gusto in later books and well it all works so well. The level of imagination on the page is truly impressive cumulating in a set piece that echoes the very best of what Hollywood has provided over the decades and let's not forget Gaspode makes an appearance.
Yeah I liked this novel but only 4 stars because there is better to come.

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Sunday, 19 June 2022

The Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett

 

The Illustrated Eric (Discworld, #9)The Illustrated Eric by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eric is an illustrated novel so it's different to what we have come to expect from the Discworld offerings but the novella length story combined with the artwork still provides the reader with an entertaining story. Rincewind as you may or may not know is dead or missing or misplaced but when the young amateur demonologist Eric summons a demon naturally it is Rincewind who was just passing by (well running) at just the right or wrong moment.
Eric naturally demands his due in the form of “The most beautiful woman who has ever lived, mastery of all the kingdoms of the world, and to live for ever" which wouldn't be a problem for a demon but for Rincewind the Wizzard well it could be tricky until he gets some unexpected "help" from the powers that be via the demon realm. So Eric and Rincewind have their adventures and as is normally the case with this trope what Eric wants he gets but it isn't what he expected and as for Rincewind (and the Luggage) it's just a matter of survival while meeting an ancestor, the creator of the world and more running preferably away from anything dangerous.
Eric should be enjoyed in its original form but even as a plain ebook without illustrations it was a lot more enjoyable than I remembered, the pacing was as you would expect pretty quick and the time travelling adventures showed lots of imagination and were in parts very humorous and clever.


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Sunday, 12 June 2022

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

 

The Illustrated Guards! Guards!The Illustrated Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first novel from Terry Pratchett I ever read and this latest hardback release adds some beautiful artwork by Paul Kidby. The story takes place in Ankh-Morpork and has two major plots which eventually twine around each other with humour, satire and an all too real reflection of the real world and our society. The first story is all about Carrot who as a baby was the only survivor of a wagon party destroyed in the mountains, taken in by dwarfs he was raised but eventually his adopted parents had to reveal the truth and he was sent to the city to have a human made of him. As a volunteer for the City Watch he ends up being dumped into the Night Watch and well the rusty wheels finally begin to turn and the City will never be the same. The second story is the devious plan of an unknown individual influencing the members of a secret society to use magic to create a dragon and use it to punish those that believe to have done them wrong and eventually to set the scene for a "hero" to appear, banish the dragon, unseat the Patrician and install said devious dude in the position of power. Naturally a revitalised Night Watch and the Plot to destabilize the city clash and well by then you will be enamoured with the characters, writing and sheer style that was Terry Pratchett.

Just finished the novel again as part of my Discworld from start to finish reading adventure and it still ranks up there although part of the that is certainly because it was my first and Terry got to know these characters far better as he went on and wrote them with more complexity in latter novels. That said Guards! Guards! is always the first I'll get off the shelf when I fancy a visit to the Disc.


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Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

 

Pyramids (Discworld, #7)Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Kingdom of Djelibeybi has been in existence for a long long time and has a thing for pyramids so much so they go further into economic depression and debt whenever a King dies and their heir places the order for a Pyramid. Teppic the son of the current ruler Teppicymon XXVII is the first of the line to travel beyond the kingdom for his education attending the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork. It is a good education but Teppic when it comes right down to it doesn't really want to kill people and depending upon your point of view when his father passes he is blessed with the gifts of his position and returns home where as King he doesn't have to kill anyone, he has people that will do that for him. Teppic soon clashes with Dios the head priest who has served the kingdom for far longer than you would considered "normal" and when he as King has to allow the young handmaiden Ptraci to die he dons his Assassins garb to rescue her but his dual life eventually forces him to flee the kingdom which then "vanishes" leaving nothing but a line in the sand and an echo of the seabirds and spell of the sea.
Pyramids was a good read, I like the idea of a kingdom on the disc that mirrored historical Egypt with the Terry tweaks so you get Pyramids that indeed have immense power to control the flow of time and highly intelligent camels as well as the usual blend of humour, satire and nods towards everyday concerns we have now. In the grand collection of Discworld the novel shows how far Terry had come as a writer and how far he would still go in perfecting his craft but for all that Pyramids is well worth a read.


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Saturday, 4 June 2022

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

 

Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6)Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Wyrd Sisters we are immersed in all things Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and the young and enthusiastic Magrat Garlick. The setting is once again the Ramtops and more specifically the small realm of Lancre ruled by a King who has just been murdered which is an occupational hazard of monarchy. However his young son is smuggled out of the castle by a loyal guard who dies handing the child over to Granny who deals in her own way with those set to commit one of the darker realities of succession. Thus the three witches (mother, maiden and crone) have to protect the heir to the realm, deal with the new King (and his wife) plus the desires of the land itself within a real world narrative which can easily be twisted to paint them as evil and malicious.
Wyrd sisters is a strong novel this early in the Discworld series and quite a bit of the stories nuts and bolts will be familiar to anyone who has read or seen Shakespeare but built upon that is a wonderful story full of magic, wonder and a belief that if we are doing it then it can't be bad (Granny's Worldview). Thus mid air magical refuelling, time manipulation, ghosts, a play, a jester and an unexpected romance conspire to entertain the reader in a most satisfying manner. The novel is funny, familiar (in a good way) and in hindsight it builds strongly upon Equal Rites to solidify what the witches mean to the Discworld.


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Sunday, 29 May 2022

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

 

Sourcery (Discworld, #5)Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ipslore the Red the eighth son of an eighth son and a mage of incredible power and above average (for a Wizard) level of arrogance is thrown out of the Unseen University after he shows tendencies towards relationships and love for a woman. He has seven sons all mighty Wizards and then he has an eighth son (Coin) who is born with the power to create magic, to wrap the world around his will, he is a Sorcerer. Death however comes to us all and will not allow Ipslore to dictate the fate of Coin, destiny and free will must have a chance so if the new born sorcerer willingly abandons his staff only then will the future have a chance to be something other than a world without wizardry and alas by extension human life as the Ice Giants ultimately return to reclaim the Disc.
Coin eventually makes his way to the University and offers the Wizards power and influence beyond the walls they themselves have made however with the wisdom of mages down the centuries the Archchancellors Hat arranges for itself to be stolen but ends up in the hands of Rincewind who truth to form gets as far away from the University as possible.
Well there we have the foundation for the fifth novel in the Discworld series, a Sorcerer who can pretty much do anything leads the University faction of the Wizarding world into a Mage War and once again the Discworld trembles on the edge of catastrophe. Rincewind has adventures along with a new companion ( Conina the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian ) and of course the Luggage. Overall the narrative is quite compelling, we understand why Wizards are not encouraged to marry and why by and large they don't do magic. The history of the disc is also expanded to clarify the existence of the areas saturated with magic (source of Sapient Pearwood) and why the Gods are useful in the bigger picture if not in everyday events. Sourcery is a Rincewind novel but not so much as you would think, the secondary and ancillary characters are pretty well presented and are entertaining in themselves and the story flows well leading to a satisfying and ultimately logical conclusion.

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Sunday, 22 May 2022

Mort by Terry Pratchett

 

Mort (Discworld, #4)Mort by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mortimer (Mort) is one of those enthusiastic youngsters who while always curious, adventurous and active never seem to achieve much which is a problem for his father. However help is at hand in the form of an apprenticeship with the boys new master being responsible for him, now this makes Mort's family seem "bad" but it is really for the best. They travel to a hiring fare where alas as the hours go by Mort is the only boy not be taken into a new and exciting trade which is why at the stroke of midnight a black robed individual riding a large white horse offering to take Mort under his wing is most welcome even if undertaking was not the job Mort's father thought would be for him (Often the case when encountering Death a human's perception is changed to allow them to function).
So Mort is taken to the House of Death which offers it's own surprises and in the spirit of wax on wax off Mort is let into the secrets of the job of reaping souls and dealing with the seemingly unfair and unjust consequences of belief and what comes after death plus the need to muck out the stables of a well fed and cared for horse named Binky.
Mort is a fun read, the expansion of the Death character who really becomes a force to be reckoned with in the Discworld novels begins here, we've seen him toy with those he reaps and in many cases (Rincewind for example) interact indirectly but here he is a real "flesh and blood" being so to speak who realises that there is more to "life" than the job until Mort alters reality in a spectacular way and well the duty is the duty. Mort would be a good introduction to the Discworld series, it balances humour with a little drama and includes many well written characters most of which are unique to this novel but Death continues and that's the greatest thing to come from the novel.


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Sunday, 8 May 2022

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

 

Equal Rites (Discworld, #3)Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Granny Weatherwax, what more needs to be said for one of the cornerstones of the Discworld who makes her first appearance in Equal Rites. Granted she's not quite the Granny (or Mistress if you will) that we come to know but all the elements are there. The story begins with the death of a Wizard who bequeaths his Staff and power to the eighth child of an eighth son which should have been a male child but wasn't and this causes some complications further down the line. Young Eskarina Smith is taken under the wing of Granny to be taught Witchcraft but the girls innate gifts and the Staffs "help" means it will never be enough. So the decision is made to take Esk to Unseen University (Granny claims to know it's location but she wouldn't be where she was if she ever admitted ignorance of anything). Naturally the two of them have a few obstacles to overcome and it's no surprise when Esk and Granny are separated only to eventually meet again in Ankh-Morpork. Esk learns a painful lesson in how the Discworld works and more specifically the world of the wizards but Granny long ago learnt how to get what she wanted and this serves Esk well as she interacts with the domestic staff of the University as well as the latest initiate "Simon" who is a bit of a prodigy but alas has drawn the attention of the denizens of the Dungeon Dimensions...
Equal Rites is the first of the novels to really reflect how Terry writes in the years to come, there is still a long way to go but it's impossible not to rate the novel highly and is a very entertaining and easy read.

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Sunday, 1 May 2022

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Light Fantastic is the second novel in the Discworld series and is a straight sequel to The Colour Of Magic so there is more Rincewind and Twoflower with a healthy does of Cohen The Barbarian with the recently "not" rescued Bethan a young woman who never considered liniment as being in her near future. As the Disc drifts into chaos thanks to the ever growing star in the sky even the Unseen University is not immune, the search for Rincewind and the missing Spell is an opportunity for a Wizard with ambitions and the nerve to act so Trymon tempts fate to control the Octavo and claim the eighth spell. Naturally we get adventures and near death experiences thanks to Rincewind and Twoflower but in this novel there is more rigidity as the main plot drives them forward towards the revelation about the mysterious star and why the Octavo was "left" behind in the first place.
The novel took me a little longer to read than I expected, it's not long but I didn't immediately pick up the kindle when I had a few minutes. It maybe I had reached the end of the Rincewind/Twoflower show or as mentioned before I rate the latter novels so highly the earlier ones suffer in comparison. Over all though the story holds up and Cohen was a delight and if you have not seen "Troll Bridge" by Snowgum Films (it's on youtube) then I highly recommend that addition to the lore.


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Saturday, 9 April 2022

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

 

The Colour of MagicThe Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been a long time fan of Discworld and Terry Pratchett and my journey began with Guards! Guards! many many years ago so while I have read the entire series more than once my reading has been biased towards the later novels. That said after listening to the podcast "The Compleat Discography" I've developed a hankering to read all the novels once more.
So here we are with The Colour Magic in which we are invited to take a journey with the "failed" wizard Rincewind and the discs first tourist "Twoflower" as they flee Ankh-Morpork (soon after the first fire insurance policy is sold) and become the unwitting pawns of Fate and The Lady. Naturally numerous close calls with Death occur (much to his annoyance) and they meet many an interesting individual (a few of which do not want to kill them) as well as learning much about Dragons and what number should not be said when standing in a certain temple. Ultimately being fished out at the discs edge by the water troll Tethis and learning about the Circumfence is not the boon they thought it might and once again the two adventures boldly go....
The Colour of Magic was a fun read but pales when compared to what Terry delivered in the years after thanks to his growth as a writer and as no doubt a human, elements that are feel dated or out of place to the modern reader have to be accepted as well that was then but again we know every aspect improves. Rincewind and Twoflower are great characters who work well together and of course lets not forget the Luggage whose loyalty will cause chaos where ever it goes.
Roll on The Light Fantastic.

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Empire Reborn by Jay Allan

 

Empire Reborn (Blood on the Stars Book 18)Empire Reborn by Jay Allan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An endless battle for survival has almost brought the Confederation to it's knees, joined by former enemies the Alliance technology has leapt forwards but never decisively, the battle remains focused within the hearts of the men and women who refuse to give up in defence of the people and worlds who cherish freedom. There comes to a time though when the fleets have been battered and options removed, this is that time as the powerful Highborn armada readies to meet the remnants of the Alliance but even with little or no hope the Battleships, Fighters, Cruisers of the Alliance and all the souls aboard face down the invaders.
Well it's been a long road as they say with the 18th and final novel released and now read, I can't say the series didn't need wrapping up but Jay managed to pull a rabbit out the hat so to speak, in hindsight it makes perfect sense with a little perspective massaging but the conclusion to this series was mostly satisfying. There really is little point in recommending this novel in a standalone context but if you are looking for a long running series in the military scifi genre then here you go, a completed narrative with spin offs that is both entertaining and creative in showing us a humanity living far in the future but one we can still recognise and relate too.


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Sunday, 27 February 2022

Starship Invasion by Darcy Troy Paulin

 

Starship Invasion (Lost Colony Uprising Book 2)Starship Invasion by Darcy Troy Paulin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Long lost answers to questions that have plagued the humans of Grailliyn begin to be answered but the price is high as an alien intelligence strikes quickly and ruthlessly. The Great Evil (GE) has found a people that have ignored the warning in the message the propagates the Darkwave and dared to us the FTL capabilities it allows, well by ignored we mean pressed buttons they were not sure did what. Regardless the people of Grailliyn and the inhabitants of the generation ship will have to work together to fight the genocidal invasion and buy time to find someplace safe for what could be the only humans left in the galaxy.
The second novel in the Lost Colony Uprising series introduced a how new group of central characters and the youngsters fight for survival is inspiring amongst the carnage of the invasion. Snow and Max continue their exploration and have their own almost insurmountable tasks to achieve and the two main areas of interest (Grailliyn and Mega) weave around eachother in a well paced and entertaining way. Roll on the third novel "Starship Overlords".

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Sunday, 20 February 2022

Starship Relic by Darcy Troy Paulin

 

Starship Relic (Lost Colony Uprising Book 1)Starship Relic by Darcy Troy Paulin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The planet Grailliyn is the home of a human society who know they did not evolve there but have no real answers to where they come from or how they came to be on this demanding world. They do have all manner of media which tells of Earth and movies that survived whatever happened are still very popular even if the experiences on film have no direct relation to the people that live on Graillyn. A tradition arose where young people as their last act before adulthood take a survey, this was intended to be a journey to seek out answers from across the globe to who and how the people came to be, this however is often not now the case, a few weeks on a warm beach qualifies.
However a young man named Max has travelled to the Far North and trained his own "crab" sled and ventures into wilderness armed with his long lost (assumed dead) patents journals and a clue that they found something wonderous. It's safe to say that what Max found changed the path of his life forever and set in motion a domino effect which will change how everyone looks at themselves, this world and their future.
Starship Relic was a fun and entertaining read, I like the scifi elements which merged into a well designed world which housed this portion of humanity and I've gone straight into reading the second novel, says it all really.



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Saturday, 22 January 2022

For Death or Freedom by Daniel Arenson

 

For Death or Freedom (Starship Freedom Book 4)For Death or Freedom by Daniel Arenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here we are with the fourth book in the series as we follow the continuing adventures of the Starship Freedom and her crew in the wake of humanities first contact with an alien race. The Rah invasion fleet had been chased from the solar system leaving incredible devastation in its wake. However the aliens continue to raid the planets, moon, settlements and ships thanks to the ability to use the "portals" their method of FTL propulsion. Thankfully reverse engineering Rah ships has allowed humanity to partially emulate the portal technology in a very crude fashion and with hints that there is a race out there who defeated the Rah's the Starship Freedom along with a few support vessels jumps a thousand light years to the Aeolia system in search of help but find that the Rah's have been busy and all the skill and luck will be required if any of them are to return home.
For Death of Freedom once again delivered some good quality space opera, new ships/crews were most welcome and the expansion of the "theatre" to include new star systems opens up the story to an almost limitless extent. Looking forward to the fifth book.

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Sunday, 9 January 2022

Fallout by Craig Alanson

 

Fallout (Expeditionary Force #13)Fallout by Craig Alanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Always a delight to get a new novel in the Expeditionary Force series, there is no such thing as too much Joe and Skippy although times have changed and as the narrative has grown and become more complex the "fun" of the earlier novels has been tempered with consequences and issues for the characters. That is not to say I didn't totally enjoy this addition to the series as the Earth and the Merry Band of Pirates realise far too late that the Senior Species have thousands of years of experience in manipulating "lesser" races and a deal that even allows humanity to survive may simply not be on the table. Things get even more complex for Joe and Skippy when pressure from all sides has resulted in counting the costs of what at the time seemed sensible risks to take but when faced with a force that seems to be wiping out Maxohlx and Rindhalu fleets all bets are off and no risk is too great not only to save humanity but perhaps the entire galactic population.
As always love Craig's take on AI weaponry and the Jeraptha are an inspired race so looking forward to the next novel in the series due later in the year.

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Friday, 31 December 2021

Return of the Colossus by Nicole Grotepas

 

Return of the Colossus: A Steampunk Space Fantasy Adventure (Holly Drake Jobs Book 8)Return of the Colossus: A Steampunk Space Fantasy Adventure by Nicole Grotepas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The eighth novel in this series continues the story of Holly Drake and her partners in crime as they live day to day in society which is obviously far more complex and mysterious and maybe even dangerous than any of them believed. As forces from outside the solar system cast shadows Holly continues to understand her fathers place in the scheming and organised crime which is an undercurrent of the 6 moon system. The core narrative of this book is the influence one Ume Kauss has over Holly and her friends, blackmail and extortion are often used to get what you want and this time Holly is having to keep her calm and play nice, naturally this doesn't last too long but there is far more going on than she suspects.
This eighth novel allowed for growth in some characters as well as inching the overall plot forward but this is a series so it's expected every novel isn't going to provide a leap forward in every aspect. Curious to see how Holly handles her "personal" relationships and keeping everyone happy as well as the demands of being a bigger player in this game.

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Christmas Movies 2021 (Part 5)

Christmas Movies 2021 
(Part 5)


It's a Wonderful Life

One of the all time classics which surprisingly didn't perform initially well at the US box office but found its way into the hearts and souls of the people through television. James Stewart is perfection in the movie and Lionel Barrymore was spectacular as the two actors played opposing forces in this small American town.


Donovan's Reef

A John Wayne christmas movie you say, yes indeed this comedy is set in December and the story is told through to christmas day. A romcom with a surprising cast and some dated (but not terribly so) ideas about class and status and the complexities of romance. 



It's 2022 tomorrow so this is the end of the christmas period and while I've certainly watched a lot more festive movies that I've listed here the bulk have been made for tv fare which only delivers a standout once and a while. Some movies becomes must watch and/or traditions and these I've mentioned over the last few weeks are mine.


Friday, 24 December 2021

Borg Cube Advent Calendar Week 4

Borg Cube Advent Calendar 
Week 4


Day 21.
Not a full sized mug (which would have impressed me regardless of the artwork) but an espresso cup which is a thing I guess.


Day 22.
A pencil sharpener, words fail me....



Day 23.
After some recent items I'm pleased to see a pin,


Day 24.
A Borg Shadow Caster and you know this may be the best item in the calendar.





Sunday, 19 December 2021

Standing Alone by Christopher G. Nuttall

 

Standing Alone (Cast Adrift Book 2)Standing Alone by Christopher G. Nuttall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Standing Alone is the second novel in the Cast Adrift series by Christopher G. Nuttall and I have to say it really hit the mark. We return to the Earth which was given its independence from the Alphan Empire five years ago and having already fought one war from an aggressive neighbour is rapidly gearing up for major conflict with the Pashtali who are a Galactic level civilisation. If Earth can not control and regulate the regions of space they have possession of then by Galactic Law the Pashtali are free to invade and well do anything they want. Alas Earth despite a rapid building programme lack certain technologies to create ships to rival the Galactics and have had not enough time to create at least a modern space navy. The star systems they are charged with controlling are in chaos (helped by outside forces) and with no help from their former overlords or nearby alien civilisations Earth is on its own.
Standing Alone really delivered on the promise of the first novel extending plot lines along a natural path and building upon races and galactic politics only hinted at. As was expected Christopher also delivered some outstanding space battles with a nod towards ground troops as well. The technology used by both sides made a lot of sense and the cast of characters worked very well in the circumstances they were thrust into and ultimately gave this reader a few hours of great storytelling and enjoyment, looking forward to book three.

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The Vacuum of Space by Julia Huni

 

The Vacuum of Space (Space Janitor #1)The Vacuum of Space by Julia Huni
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard an interview with Julia Huni on a podcast I listen too and the discussion about her novels was interesting enough to have me pay Amazon a visit and buy the first novel in the Space Janitor series. The novel is centered on a lowly "bot" technician (Triana Moore) on a far flung space station (Kelly Kornienko) whose "Bots" discover a dead body, her troubles have only just begun as she is visited by station security and then by a Special Agent for the Board named Tiberius O'Neill y Mendoza bin Tariq e Reynolds and finds herself mixed a series of murders, political fall out and all the other things when dealing with the privileged upper crust of any society.
The Vacuum of Space was entertaining and I easily got caught up with the day to day life of Triana which slowly became more chaotic and dangerous as the days past. I've bought the second novel in the series which says more about my opinion than any number of words here.



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