Monthly Archives: January 2016

Keeping Her Brother

Her brothers keeperHer Brother’s Keeper
Mike Kupari
Baen Books
trade paper $16
ebook $8.99

If you like good, old-fashioned space adventure, then you’ll want to check out Mike Kupari’s first solo novel (he’s previously collaborated with Larry Correia) is a strong debut that based on the ending will be the first volume in a series.  At least if sales are good (such is the way of publishing). So go out and buy a copy, because I want to know the secret of that derelict starship they find.

Oh, you want more than that to go on before you buy it, do you? Continue reading

Kuttner Unkollected: “Dark Dawn”

Thilling Wonder Aug 47“Dark Dawn”
Henry Kuttner writing as Keith Hammond
Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1947

Kuttner had three stories in this issue of Thrilling Wonder, one under his own name and two under psuedonyms.  I’ll look at all of them since two of them have been reprinted and the third never appeared in one of Kuttner’s collectons and hasn’t seen print since the 1960s.

In the post War years, Americans were definitely interested in atomic bombs and the possibility of radioactive fallout.  “Dark Dawn” deals with these concerns, as does “Atomic!”, the story in this issue that appears under Kuttner’s byline. Continue reading

A Review of Jack McDevitt’s Thunderbird

Jack McDevitt
Ace Books
Hardcover $26.95
ebook $13.99

Jack McDevitt’s latest novel takes up where Ancient Shores left off. This is not a stand-alone novel, although it’s not absolutely necessary to have read the first book.  He focuses on different characters to some extent in this one.  While McDevitt introduces dozens of characters whose lives are affected by the discovery of The Roundhouse, interstellar portal discovered on a Sioux reservation, his central character is Sioux Chairman James Walker.

Walker is not in an enviable position.  The President, the UN, the press, and his own tribe are all pressuring him.  Some want him to shut down or destroy The Roundhouse.  Others want access to it.  And some want to use it to colonize the tropical paradise world they’ve come to call Eden.

Walker tries to walk a careful path, not rushing and not making long term sacrifices for short term gains.   Continue reading

Sail Along Ancient Shores

Ancient ShoresAncient Shores
Jack McDevitt
Harper Collins
mass market paperback $7.99
ebook $6.99

Jack McDevitt has long been one of my favorite science fiction writers.  In addition to his clean prose and in-depth characterizations, his novels tend to have an element of mystery.  I think to a large extent that’s what I like about his work.

Still, McDevitt is prolific enough that I haven’t read all of his work.  Until recently, Ancient Shores fell into this category.  When I found out that this year’s novel (McDevitt typically has a new release in either November or December each year) was the sequel, I knew I needed to read Ancient Shores.   Continue reading

I Have Met Infinity

Meeting InfinityMeeting Infinity
Johnathan Strahan, ed.
Solaris Books
Paperback $14.99, ebook $8.99

Before we get started, I’d like to thank Solaris books for the review copy of Meeting Infinity.  It’s the fourth volume in the series of anthologies entitled Infinity Project.  I’ve not read all of them yet, but for the most part I’ve liked the ones I have read.  (The inaugural volume Engineering Infinity is reviewed here.)  Strahan’s taste is close enough to mine that I know any anthology he edits is probably going to have more stories I like than dislike.

Having said that, Meeting Infinity probably diverges from my taste more than most of his anthologies, although I did find myself liking the majority of the stories (including a few that I thought went off the rails into heavy-handed sociopolitical messages at the end).  It contains 16 stories.  They range from near future dystopias to far future scenarios.  Here are some highlights: Continue reading

Weighing Shadows Through Time

Weighing ShadowsWeighing Shadows
Lisa Goldstein
Night Shade Books, 318 pgs.
Trade paper $15.99
ebook $15.99

One of my favorite subgenres of science fiction is time travel, so when Night Shade Books sent me a review copy of Weighing Shadows, I was looking forward to reading the book.  (Thank you, Brianna Scharfenberg, for sending the review copy.)  I wasn’t the target audience for the book, it turned out, but it’s still a well-written novel that will find an audience.

Ann Decker is working in a deadend job in a computer shop when a mysterious woman recruits her for a new job at a company called Transformations Incorporated.  At first Ann doesn’t know much about the job, but since she hates working in the computer shop, she takes it.

It turns out that Transformations Incorporated is based in the future and specializes in time travel.  They’re trying to improve things in their time period by manipulating events in the past.  It’s not long before Ann is approached a resistance group within Transformations Incorporated. The bulk of the novel concerns Ann’s struggles with deciding where her loyalties lie, although it’s not hard to see what her final conclusion will be.  The number of times a person can travel in time is limited, so the missions operatives are sent on are chosen carefully.  Ann’s first mission is to ancient Crete, her second to the Library of Alexandria, and the third to France in the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Eric Frank Russell

Eric Frank RussellBritish science fiction author Eric Frank Russell was born on this date 111 years ago.  (That’s January 6, 1905 for those of  you reading this at a later date.)

Russell isn’t as well known as he should be these days.  I’m not aware of any new editions of his work in the last decade or so.  There are a couple of ebooks available on Amazon, but for the most part, you’ll have to look for his work in second hand editions of the two NESFA omnibuses (short fiction and novels) from about 15 years ago.

During World War II, Russell worked in the same unit in British Intelligence as a chap named Ian Fleming.  Russell used some of the ideas he developed for sabotage in his novel Wasp.  There’s an ebook version, and the book is included in Entities from NESFA.  The novel is about a man sent behind enemy lines to disrupt and cause trouble.  It’s essentially primer on how to be a terrorist without actually killing anybody.  Like most of Russell’s work, there’s an element of humor that runs through it.  These days, it’s hard to imagine a novel dealing with these themes that fits the description I gave, but Russell pulls it off. Continue reading