George V. Reilly

Review: The Apocalypse Codex

Title: The Apocalypse Codex
Author: Charles Stross
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Ace
Copyright: 2012
Pages: 336
Keywords: Love­craft­ian spy thriller
Series: Laundry Files, vol. 4
Reading period: 22–26 January, 2017

A major American fun­da­men­tal­ist preacher has drawn dis­turbing­ly close to the British Prime Minister, and the more the Laundry looks, they more alarmed they become. Hacker/com­pu­ta­tion­al de­mo­nolo­gist/Laundry agent Bob Howard is leveling up with the Laundry and he has been assigned to “External Assets”, the wing that deals with deniable freelance agents. Bob, Persephone Hazard, and Johnny McTavish are sent to Colorado to in­ves­ti­gate Golden Promise Ministries. There they find a hidden cult within the church where the members are possessed by alien parasites that continue.

Review: The Atrocity Archives

Title: The Atrocity Archives
Author: Charles Stross
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Ace
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 345
Keywords: Love­craft­ian spy thriller
Series: Laundry Files, vol. 1
Reading period: 10–12 January, 2017

Bob Howard, Laundry hacker newly promoted to field agent, finds himself protecting a logic professor from rogue SS-Ahnenerbe agents who've been hiding in another dimension since the end of the War. But their biggest problem is the frost giant that was summoned. And later there's the subverted CCTV cameras with the basilisk stare.

To borrow Charlie Stross's own words from his Crib Sheet:

So there you've got the in­gre­di­ents. Love­craft­ian horror; the secret agency [the Laundry] dedicated to protecting us from the scum of continue.

Review: Fuzzy Nation

Title: Fuzzy Nation
Author: John Scalzi
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 368
Keywords: sf
Reading period: 20 July–12 August, 2016

Jack Holloway is a prospector on Zara XXII, con­tract­ing for the giant ZaraCorp. On one momentous day, he is fired, discovers a huge seam of sunstones worth trillions, and meets the first members of a new species, the fuzzies. Since he was fired before he discovered the sunstones, he now has an en­force­able claim—and he's a disbarred lawyer, so you can bet he's following through. The fuzzies are delightful and they're pretty smart—so smart that they might just be sapient. And if they are, that's a huge problem for ZaraCorp, since the fuzzies continue.

Review: The Very Best of Kate Elliott

Title: The Very Best of Kate Elliott
Author: Kate Elliott
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tachyon Pub­li­ca­tions
Copyright: 2015
Pages: 386
Keywords: sf, fantasy
Reading period: 19 May–3 June, 2016

A collection of short stories and essays from Kate Elliott, some of which are drawn from her various story universes. In the foreword and the essays, she discusses the cultural biases that lead to the “male gaze” and male characters being the un­con­sid­ered defaults for many readers and writers. These stories amply demon­strate that good, in­ter­est­ing fantasy and SF stories can be written with strong female characters and subtle plots. (I already knew this; some in SF fandom still don't.)

Review: Mars Crossing

Title: Mars Crossing
Author: Geoffrey A. Landis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2000
Pages: 433
Keywords: hard sf
Reading period: 22–27 May, 2016

Five astronauts are stranded on Mars. Their only hope is to find the vehicle of an earlier crew who died—but that ship is at the north pole and they're south of the equator. And so they trek north across Mars. They know that the other ship can't hold them all, and some of them start dying along the way.

Landis is a NASA scientist who writes “hard science fiction”; i.e., SF that's solidly based in science, some of which is known for plodding writing and dull characters. Landis's characters continue.

Review: Ship Breaker

Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Little Brown
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 352
Keywords: young adult, dystopian
Reading period: 16–18 May, 2016

The Age of Affluence ended when the coastal cities drowned as the icecaps melted. Many now eke out a living digging through the detritus of the past. Nailer is a scrawny teenaged scavenger who finds a broken clipper ship after a storm. There's only one survivor, Nita, a swank girl who fled in­ternecine feuding in her trading clan. To protect her from his psychotic father and others who would sell her to her enemies, they go on the run to Orleans, with the aid of a “half-man”.

Baci­galupi's continue.

Review: The Annunciate

Title: The Annunciate
Author: Severna Park
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Eos
Copyright: 1999
Pages: 294
Keywords: sf
Reading period: 10–13 March, 2016

Three people are nearly all that's left of the elite “Meshed” caste. They stay one step aside of the hunters and live off the proceeds from making and selling the highly addictive “Staze”. They flee to a long-abandoned planet and discover a new lifeform, which takes over in both meatspace and the shared virtual reality, infecting the dreams of the Staze-addicted.

While there were some in­ter­est­ing ideas in this book, I didn't enjoy it very much.

Review: Star Doc

Title: Star Doc
Author: S.L. Viehl
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Roc
Copyright: 2000
Pages: 400
Keywords: SF
Reading period: 11–12 January, 2016

Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil flees Earth to the remote planet of Kevarzanga-2, seeking to get away from her dom­i­neer­ing father and the xenophobic Terrans. She finds in­ter­est­ing challenges and romance working with a variety of alien species at the FreeClinic. Then a plague strikes that kills thousands. When that's resolved, the news comes that her father really, really wants her back, and is bringing enormous resources to make that happen.

I didn't like the book at first, but it grew on me as I read more of it and I got caught continue.

Happy Birthday, Roy Batty

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.

—Roy Batty, the Tears in Rain monologue

According to Blade Runner, the replicant Roy Batty's incept date is January 8th, 2016. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article.

In honor of which, we watched Blade Runner tonight.

Review: River of Gods

Title: River of Gods
Author: Ian McDonald
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Pyr
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 599
Keywords: sf
Reading period: February 14–23, 2015

India has split apart by 2047, into a dozen competing states desperate for the life-giving monsoon rains. New castes have appeared, as have the new gender of nutes. Aeais (artificial in­tel­li­gences) abound but are strictly proscribed from attaining full sentience. And an asteroid with seven-billion-year-old images of now-living people has been discovered.

McDonald draws together nine people from different walks of life, weaving their tales into one tapestry. India, ancient yet up-to-the-minute, is the vibrant backdrop for this explosion of ideas.

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