02 January 2019

Still more 3 to 3.5 star science fiction stories

These are more books which I read in 2018 (even though I downloaded some the previous year; yes, my backlog is not funny). Each is rated around 3 stars, meaning I liked it well enough to write reviews and hope it gets good sales. So here are short reviews and links to find the books.

This is part 3 of what is actually the same post (previous post here), but broken up so that (a) it’s not too long and (b) I can label the post without losing any of the book or author names. So it might extend to one or two more posts. Please continue to bear with me.


The Crack | Lee S King
⭐⭐⭐

What if her occult-seeming pickup line really is true? Are there really rifts between dimensions? 

Unfortunately, I can't seem to locate the book on Smashwords any more; the author may have taken it off.


The Licence | Myfanwy Tilley
⭐⭐⭐ and 1/2


Corruption is possible in the Bureau of Parenting, Marriages and Dying. So what if you're not really qualified to be a parent?


A very clever if not exactly ... edifying piece! Plenty of twists and turns.






The Eye of Renithi | Aaron Clausen
⭐⭐⭐ and 1/2


This is a story of Mars. Not the real one, but the mythical one of Burroughs. Which is probably why the cover is a black and white image of Mars itself. A dying planet with hot deserts, barbaric Martian worshippers of a horrific goddess of death, and greedy colonial Earthmen tomb raiders.


In the tradition of King Solomon's Mines or Indiana Jones. For which I have less patience from the 21st century.

Withal, well written and atmospheric. 



The Intervention | David Horn
⭐⭐⭐ and 1/2

The parents of an addict in a dystopic future stage an intervention, which results in his being committed to an institution. You can guess he's addicted to something mild that creates frissons in a conformist society, but the end is still a wry surprise.






The Implant | Troy Dennison
⭐⭐⭐ and 1/2

A funny take on unearned, instant knowledge. The narrator keeps getting implants that give him instant knowledge, like language or karate, but without the skills. The whole thing is an eye-rolling sitcom till the bleak end, whereupon it becomes face-palming sitcom.




Next time, a few 4 star stories!

More 3 to 3.5 star science fiction stories

These are more books which I read in 2018 (even though I downloaded some the previous year; yes, my backlog is not funny). Each is rated around 3 stars, meaning I liked it well enough to write reviews and hope it gets good sales. So here are short reviews and links to find the books.

This is part 2 of what is actually the same post (starting here), but broken up so that (a) it’s not too long and (b) I can label the post without losing any of the book or author names. So it might extend to one or two more posts. Bear with me.

Point of origin | T J Kinsella
⭐⭐⭐ and a half

Why space probes should not have manufacturer's addresses. Amusing little short-short. You can read and enjoy this very quickly.

The alienness of the aliens is extremely well done; one of the best. Unfortunately, marred by minor errors like homophone spellings.



Sunset on Mars and other stories | Laura E. Bradford
⭐⭐⭐

Well written and edited. Very short. Amusing in parts. But more TV serial episodes than sci fi.

And she got the colour of a Martian sunset wrong...

Find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61170





Tiny Earth Declares War On Earth | JT Pearson
⭐⭐⭐

Tiny Earth is so small, it's invisible. With high tech, the King of Tiny Earth threatens Earth, particularly the President of the USA. Mad antics ensue. It's completely silly.

This is another story in the madcap saga and at par with the rest. (I don’t know if the author loves Tom Cruise or hates him, but the poor man occurs in almost every Tiny Earth story, to hilarious if implausible ends).

Find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/291176


The Art of Deception | David Addo
⭐⭐⭐

Not really sci fi unless you call Spy Kids sci fi. A good story for young teens. A neatly written little episode, more detective fiction than science fiction. The initial scenes are mostly unnecessary, but you can bear them, because it gets better.

You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645613


....Continued in the next post...


A bunch of 3 star science fiction books

These books which I read in 2018 (even though I downloaded some the previous year; yes, my backlog is not funny) are rated 3 stars, meaning I liked them well enough to write reviews and hope they get good sales. So here are short reviews and links to find the books.

This is part 1 of what is actually the same post, but broken up so that (a) it’s not too long and (b) I can label the post without losing any of the book or author names. So it might extend to one or two more posts. Bear with me.

Shadow of Empyriad | Josi Russell
⭐⭐⭐

This is a fairly tightly plotted novel with well delineated characters. Earth has had all borders erased, but people still cluster with nationalistic or tribal instincts, and prepare to meet their neighbours with force. Into this mix are dropped alien refugees, who are temporarily put up in Yellowstone National Park. The story revolves around two youngsters, one human, one noble-savage alien. Can they, as the blurb says, save the world? 

Other than the shamanistic connection of the refugees with 'all-beings', and the ability to do magic by drawing patterns, which parts made me roll my eyes, it's a decent story, well told, and well edited. In these anti-refugee days, well-timed.

My favourite character was Solomon Brooks aka Sol, the young human. His travails are rendered so well, I could feel them all.

[I downloaded it when it was on discount]



The Offices of M Coopersmith | James Hampton
⭐⭐⭐

A light read. Two teens find that their school assignment to pick up a cheque from the mysterious Mr M Coopersmith turns out to be a bit more than they bargained for. No new or mind-boggling sci fi/fantasy concepts (indeed, even trope-heavy), but a fast, smooth read that made me smile often. It has humour, some level of thinking, lots of entertaining action in which the mysterious Mr C shows a sense of humour and, dare one say it, humanity, which carries the story onwards. The teens start as standard YA characters, but by the end, they are pretty much three-dimensional.



Darkwalk | Cassy Campbell
⭐⭐⭐

Fast paced, well edited.

It's just that the heroes are way too over powered for the villains. You *know* they will win. Added to which, the romance is signalled very heavily right from the start. A story with many tropes.

Withal, a light read, and if you like it, two more books in the series.

[I downloaded it when it was on discount]

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Darkwalk-Cassy-Campbell/dp/1481884212


My name is Mark Nine | DKW
⭐⭐⭐

You're in Tokyo, and you don't know why you're there. People crowd in front of you, but behind you, they vanish into shops. Someone is tailing you. Why? 

A short mystery with an amusing reveal. Some stories gain more stars towards the end; this is one.

Find it here (free): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/279534


Linehan's Ordeal | Bryan Murphy
⭐⭐⭐

A very well written story, but simply inserting one movie hologram in it doesn't make it science fiction.

Linehan goes to Hong Kong for his company and gets kidnapped. Why, and what role his new love plays in it is the rest of the story. He's friends with a top cop, but it made almost no difference to the search, which I found baffling.

The writing is top notch, but the plot itself left me unimpressed. Some stories start by looking like they will get more stars than they finally gather. This is one.

Find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/536973

... Continued in the next post...

05 December 2018

Wholesale mayhem in a post-apocalyptic world

Military science fiction | The Perseid Collapse | Steven Konkoly

A fast paced story with more or less relatable characters.

Placed in the USA after what is either a nuclear attack or an asteroid strike, three neighbouring families decide to trek out to a survivalist camp set up by the protagonist at his parents' farm in the wake of the Jakarta Epidemic*, with one working car and a lot of bikes and firearms between them.

If military sci fi with post apocalyptic situations and a hero who can single-handedly take down large numbers of baddies is your scene, look no further. There is a reference in there to the Die Hard movies, and it's not accidental. But if you feel squeamish at wholesale mayhem, stay away.

Be warned that the story does not reach any kind of conclusion in this volume. For that, you'll need to buy the next, and possibly the next book. If you like this stuff, that won’t be a hardship. Steven Konkoly writes with reliable quality.

*Yep, that’s another book. I think this one would actually be book 3 in the series, but you can read it as standalone. Many reviewers have commented on the overly detailed weapons descriptions. I, too, needed to skip paragraphs when that started.

⭐⭐⭐ aka ‘I liked it’. Not fabulous, but a good read.

Disclaimer: I got this book when it was under heavy discount.

Books I didn't really like, but YMMV

Recommended sci fi and fantasy, but it didn't click.

Every now and then, other people seem to really like books that leave me cold or unimpressed.

Here are a few short notes on some of these. I’ve rated them 2 stars, aka ‘It’s ok’, or just 1 star, aka ‘I don’t like it’.

Now, just because I didn’t much like them, it may merely be because the story is not really my scene. Hence, the YMMV (your mileage may vary) disclaimer. 


Fantastical stories 
Juraj Vondena

The ideas, while not bad, are fairly pedestrian.

The writing is straightforward, but desperately needs an editor. There are grammar mistakes in practically every paragraph (I understand English is not the primary language of the author, but that’s what editors are for), and the characters never quite become fully real or engage your emotions. As a result, the grammar became a deal-breaker.

⭐⭐ aka ‘It’s ok’. You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/438430


Nora's Sun
M.S. Fowle

The best thing about the story is its sheer frantic pace. It could do with a good editor, though. For a start, the title should be Nora's Son, because there is no reference to any Sun in the whole story, but lots to Nora’s son. With many clichés /tropes, it's nonetheless a simply told story of a mother looking for her son and taking on an alien invasion to do so.

⭐⭐ aka ‘It’s ok’. You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/140318


Rika!
Brian Fogarty

Just when it started getting interesting and one had got comfortable with the characters, it's over, and pointing at the sequel.

Over the top military humour and angst in the tradition of Bill the Galactic Hero, but with none of the sly knowledgeable wit of the latter. Plus, there are grammar and spelling errors and most of the names seem to be generated by banging a keyboard at random.

⭐⭐ aka ‘It’s ok’. Get it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/512686


Prison mountain
Scott Hilkene

A horror fantasy that goes all over the place without really going anywhere.

This one gets a ⭐ rating, aka 'I don’t like it'. But if you still want to check it out: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/297764




Something new
Legend Brook

It's not a story. It's just a single scene. And you've already seen X men.

Another one with a ⭐ star rating, mainly because of the disappointment of getting a single scene instead of a story. Find it here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/668386


The final battle
Nagraj Rao

It's not a story. It's a platform for the writer to vent about religion and the lack of peace in the world. It's trite. Adding a robot doesn't make it sci fi. 

So, ⭐ star aka ‘I don’t like it’. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/294412






Here’s the thing, though. Should I put up my reviews on Smashwords or not? I tend to be of the persuasion, when reviewing, of: if you can’t say something kind, don’t say anything. And none of these is so atrocious that I feel that warning the unsuspecting public is my duty. Any comments on this aspect will be welcome.

21 September 2018

Filler

I haven't gone away or anything.

I've gots lots of reviews to write. But for now, I'm uploading all kinds of old reviews from this blog onto Good Reads. I'm actually surprised that there are so many. I have this (correct) self-image of reader who sneakily reads the next 10 books before sighing and sitting down to review, but there's a good number.

Sigh. All that it actually means is that I probably read a lot more than I remember.

The next set of reviews will be of short stories I read on Smashwords. Promise with fingers crossed!