Review: Ruabon (Tales of Lost Solace #4), by Karl Drinkwater

Ruabon

Welcome to Tecant.

Nothing ever happens here.

Until today.

Ruabon Nadarl is just another low-ranking member of the scan crew, slaving away for the UFS which “liberated” his homeworld. To help pass the time during long shifts he builds secret personalities into the robots he controls. Despite his ingenuity, the UFS offers few opportunities for a better life.

Then Ruabon detects an intruder on the surface of a vital communications tower.

He could just report it and let the deadly UFS commandos take over, while Ruabon returns to obscurity.

Or he could break UFS laws and try to capture the intruder himself. For the UFS, only the outcome matters, not the method. If his custom-programmed drones can save the day, he’ll be a hero.

And if he fails, he’ll be dead.

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Ruabon

Continue reading “Review: Ruabon (Tales of Lost Solace #4), by Karl Drinkwater”

TBR Pile Reviews: More MurderBot!

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This short story is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah and follows the events in Exit Strategy. Kindle Edition, 19 pages
Published April 19th 2021 by Tor (first published May 5th 2020)

My Review

I enjoy MurderBot and this short story kept me going between novels and novellas. Here we read about Dr Mensah’s reaction to being held hostage once they have returned to Preservation Station. Dr Mensah doesn’t want to admit that she’s traumatised. MurderBot doesn’t know what to do but in its own way tries to help.

I enjoyed reading about events from a different perspective and this short story shows how one of the main characters is affected by event without the intermediary of MurderBot. A good addition to the canon.

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No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

Hardcover, 168 pages
Published April 27th 2021 by Tor.com
ISBN:1250765374 (ISBN13: 9781250765376)

My Review

I had this book on pre-order but forgot when it was due to arrive so finding it in the post pile on Tuesday afternoon as I was leaving for swimming was a great surprise and a very happy one. I read it yesterday afternoon, to relax and because I needed my sci-fi fix.

We’re back on Preservation Station with MurderBot and its human friends. There’s been a murder! So MurderBot helps the Station Security investigate. Station Security really don’t want MurderBot around and initially suspect him, but it soon becomes clear that there are other things going on that no one knew about and a local has been suborned by the Corporations.

In this novella we see an expansion of MurderBot’s relationships and the world around him as the strangeness of Preservation in comparison to Corporate space is explored. As usual events are filtered through MurderBot’s experiences and thoughts, and are told with humour and panache. The final showdown is rather explosive. I love it.

Book Review: Screams From The Void, by Anne Tibbets

Fiction: FICTION / Science Fiction / Alien
Contact
Product format: Paperback
Price: £9.95; $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-78758-572-0

For two years in deep space, the freighter Demeter and a small crew have
collected botanical life from other planets. It’s a lesson in patience and hell. Mechanics Ensign Reina is ready to jump ship, if only because her abusive ex is also aboard, as well as her overbearing boss. It’s only after a foreign
biological creature sneaks aboard and wreaks havoc on the ship and crew
that Reina must find her grit – and maybe create a gadget or two – to
survive…that is, if the crew members don’t lose their sanity and turn on each other in the process.

Continue reading “Book Review: Screams From The Void, by Anne Tibbets”

Review: The Murderbot Diaries 1 -5, by Martha Wells

As I mentioned in my post about my future plans, I’m going to have a break from blog tours to make my way through my personal TBR pile. I thought I’d start with a sci fi series of four novellas and a novel by Martha Wells, the Murderbot Diaries.


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Review: Red Noise, by John P Murphy

Red Noise by John P. Murphy
I got a signed, numbered first edition!

Hardcover

Goldsboro Exclusive Edition

Published May 14th 2020 by Angry Robot

Price: £26.99

Caught up in a space station turf war between gangs and corrupt law, a lone asteroid miner decides to take them all down.

When an asteroid miner comes to Station 35 looking to sell her cargo and get back to the solitude she craves, she gets swept up in a three-way standoff with gangs and crooked cops. Faced with either taking sides or cleaning out the Augean Stables, she breaks out the flamethrower.

The Rosie Synopsis

‘Jane’ or ‘the Miner’ desperately needs food and fuel, so she puts in to an asteroid-based space station, Station 35. Here she is ripped off by the ore company, finds three rival gangs in control and at each others’ throats, while the ‘decent’ population, lead by ‘Mr Shine’ hunker down in the lower depths of the station, except bar-owner/chef Takata and Station Master Herrera, who both refuse to be forced out of the galleria. Jane decides she’s going to clean up the Station and hand it back to ‘decent folks’.

Plans don’t exactly go as expected.

Basically, have you seen any of those old westerns, the ones based on Japanese films, like Seven Samurai, reworked as westerns, or Clint Eastwood’s work, like Fistful of Dollars? Think that aesthetic, but in space.

The Good

The novel calls on the traditions and tropes of westerns and on those westerns based on Japanese films, and obviously on the original Japanese work. So, the protagonist isn’t named, or only briefly, there are rival gangs and corrupt law officers, the place is far from anywhere with no help coming. I have seen an interesting collection of movies over the years but even if I haven’t seen the specific films, I know enough and can get the feeling over the originals, that the book’s references and plot points make sense.

An example of this tradition is in the naming of the protagonist. The ‘Miner’ is unnamed, given nicknames and only once is her real name and some clue about her identity revealed. This is going to be familiar to lovers of dodgy 60s Westerns based on Japanese books and films. Clint Eastwood famously play ‘The Man with No Name’ in the Dollars Trilogy. If you get the aesthetic and understand the tradition it stands in, this is marvelous fun. It’s not the first ‘spaghetti western in space’ sci fi novel, but it’s the first I’ve read and I liked it.

The pace is fast and choppy, moving between Jane and a character called Steven, although he doesn’t go by that name initially – he’s known as Screwball. They are nominally on the same, then opposed to each other and finally they’re allies. Jane doesn’t like people, preferring to stay out in space, mining and tending her orchids and bonsai trees on her little ship. Steven is a hired thug, working for Feeney, the original crime boss on Station 35. Over the course of the book Jane discovers she doesn’t actually hate humans as much as she thinks she does, and Steven finds himself questioning his life choices after a series of unexpected and painful events.

Basically, they follow the character arcs expected in the genre. They both play hero and anti-hero roles at different points and they both have similar motives initially – they need money. They both become more self-aware and ‘better people’ due to their experiences although acknowledging that they aren’t heroes.

As you can imagine from the foregoing, I found the characterisation enjoyable and fitting perfectly for the genre of the book.

The origins of the dispute and the background of the Station are mentioned in different places in the narrative, so the reader learns more as the Miner does. There are logical reasons for Station 35 being where it is when she arrives. None of the characters are surplus to requirements and the main characters as fairly well fleshed out.

Herrera’s insults are fabulous.

The Not-So-Good

Not much. I’d have liked to know more about the ‘universe’ and Herrera gets a bit characateurish at times.

The Verdict

I enjoyed reading this book, it’s given me hours of enjoyment over the three days I spent reading it. I was on the edge of my seat a lot of the time.

Highly recommended.

Review: ‘Cold Storage’, by David Koepp #HQ #PublicationDay

Cold Storage Hardcover  by
ISBN: 9780008334505
Imprint: HQ
On Sale: 2019-09-19
Format: Hardcover
https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008334505/cold-storage/

Blurb

When Pentagon bioterror operative Roberto Diaz was sent to investigate a suspected biochemical attack, he found something far worse: a highly mutative organism capable of extinction-level destruction.

Now, after decades of festering in a forgotten sub-basement, the specimen has found its way out and is on a lethal feeding frenzy. And only Diaz knows how to stop it.

He races across the country to help two unwitting security guards – one an ex-con, the other a single mother. Over one harrowing night, the unlikely trio must figure out how to quarantine this horror again . . . before it’s too late,

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Review: ‘They Don’t Make Plus Size Spacesuits’, by Ali Thompson

“They don’t make plus size spacesuits” is a sci-fi short story collection, featuring an introductory essay. It is written by long-time fat activist, Ali Thompson of Ok2BeFat.
This book is a incandescent cry from the heart, a radical turn away from utopian daydreaming of future body perfection to center a fat perspective instead.
    Ali invites people to experience a fictional version of a few of the many ways that fatphobia can manifest in a life. The ways that the people closest to fat people can subject them to tiny betrayals on a near constant basis. The disdain that piles up over the years, until it all becomes too large to bear.
And while some of the fatphobic tech in these stories may seem outrageous and downright unbelievable, it is all based on extrapolations of so-called “advances” by the diet industry, as they search for ever more efficient ways to starve people.
    The modern day worship of Health promises a future peopled only by the thin, a world where the War on Fatness is won and only visually acceptable bodies remain.
What will that future mean for the fat people who will inevitably still continue to exist?
Nothing good.

My Review

This book contains an essay and four short stories on the subject of being fat. Sci fi has a bit of a fatphobia problem, like the world in general. Ali Thompson writes short powerful stories that takes the current obsession with forcing everyone into a single acceptable body type to logical conclusions. They are painful to read but a necessary pain if we are to understand the daftness of the idea that thin = healthy.

Highly recommended, especially to anyone who thinks telling a child they’re fat is a good idea.