Archive for November, 2011

Review – Hard to ‘Hate’ Moody novel

November 27, 2011 - 8:16 pm No Comments

Them or Us (Hater Trilogy 3)
Author: David Moody
Publisher: Orion Books
Page count: 361pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

The third novel in the compelling Hater series, Them or Us starts following the ‘limited nuclear exchange’, which has resulted in the implosion of the vast ‘Unchanged’ city centre refugee camps. The towns that remain, dominated by Haters are desolated, radiation filled cities corrupted and ravaged by the remaining humans. The humans that remain as the dominant species are the Haters, people filled with uncontrollable rage and the desire to kill anyone left, more specifically, the Unchanged.

Danny McCoyne is a Hater with a difference in the post apocalyptic world – Danny can ‘hold’ the hate and pass himself off as an ‘Unchanged’, which makes him invaluable to Hinchcliffe, the despot running what is left of Lowestoft. McCoyne, despite his weaknesses and the actions he has performed in hate, is a strangely sympathetic character and makes for a great lead. Despite his hate he is likeable and as a narrator, he is a great choice.

The world Moody has created is bleak, visceral and cold. What frightens the reader so much is the actual possibility of Moody’s vision becoming reality. If you have read the Hater novels, then you must simply read this instalment; in a word, it is stunning. If this is your first Hater novel, don’t worry reading this without knowledge of the first two books will not detract from your experience. And experience this is! Enjoy the end!
If you like the look of this check it out at Them or Us (Hater Trilogy 3)

Review – The Rise of Superior SF

November 27, 2011 - 7:36 pm 3 Comments

Solaris Rising
Author: (Ed) Ian Whates
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page count: 325pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

With an introduction and edited by Ian Whates, Solaris Rising is an anthology of SF stories by familiar and recognised names from the genre such as Ian McDonald, Stephen Baxter, Peter F Hamilton (yes, it is short!), Lavie Tidhar, Jaine Fenn . . . Need I go on? If you don’t know these names, odds are you are not a prolific reader of contemporary SF. So, if you are new to SF, be assured, these authors are among the best in the genre.
In his introduction, Whates describes it as a “piquant tasting platter of SF”, and it is an accurate description, as the stories are generally un-themed, linked only by the exploration of SF tropes. Each story is preceded by an author bio, which makes for interesting reading.

There is a certain skill required to create short stories; to develop character, story and theme in a finite number of words. There are a number of superior pieces of SF in this collection, starting with McDonald’s A Smart Well- Mannered Uprising of the Dead, in which he creates a way of virtually storing the deceased, as McDonald puts it “Facebook for the Dead”. Ken Macleod manages to evoke a sense of wonder and nostalgia in ‘The Best SF of the Year Three’, whilst Tricia Sullivan’s story is intriguing, engaging yet confusing in a good way. Baxter’s ‘Rock Day’ and Paul di Filippo’s ‘Sweet Spot’ are stand out stories, as is Fenn’s contribution. For me though, it is Adam Roberts’ ‘Shall I Tell You the Problem with Time Travel?’, which I remember most; a real ‘chicken and egg’ time travel tale. Ian Watson’s conspiracy tale is great fun, and Richard Salter’s ‘Yestermorrow’ is a mind boggling wibbly wobbly timey wimey story that stands put highest of all.

In short, there are the odd couple of stories that fall flat, but on the whole this is a must buy anthology for SF fans, with some great stories.

Be ready; you are in for a treat. Check it out at Solaris Rising: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction.

Review – Double Dead is dead good

November 10, 2011 - 12:47 am No Comments

Double Dead
Author: Chuck Wendig
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Page count: 311pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Coburn, a vampire, wakes up below a NY City Theatre in a rather bad state with little memory as to how he got there. The only thing he knows, is that he needs blood, and lots of it. So, he attacks two men in the theatre who appear to be eating a deer, gagging on the black fluid that passes for their blood. For the world has changed while he slept, and these men are dead – double dead – rotting corpses who have somehow returned back from the dead.

Finding food in the shape of a few remaining humans, Coburn thinks he’s hit the jackpot until one of the survivors, cancer riddled teen Kayla, strikes a deal. If Coburn helps her group survive a journey to LA where Kayla hopes her special blood can help create a vaccine, the group will ensure he is well fed on the blood of the bad people scattered around the streets. So this ragtag group become Coburn’s ‘sheeple’; his herd of people he must protect. He even includes a little white terrier called ‘Creampuff’ in his protection clause, and it isn’t guilt that stops him snacking on the little ball of fluff – honestly.

If you have read any of Wendig’s stuff, particularly his blog, then you know what you’re in for. Wendig is a naturally funny writer and the novel is filled with witty one liners sharp observations and robust characters who complement Wendig’s narrative voice. Gross and hilarious, this is a must for zombie fans and fans of quality pulp!

If you like the look of this check it out at Double Dead (Tomes of the Dead).

Review – The Recollection – Future SF

November 10, 2011 - 12:17 am No Comments

The Recollection
Author: Gareth L Powell
Publisher: Solaris Books
Page count: 307pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Ed Rico lives his life running from “just one disaster to another”, so when artist Ed’s brother Verne Rico disappears into a bizarre gateway known as the ‘Arch’ on a London escalator, Ed and Verne’s wife Alice go through the next available Arch on a quest through planets and time frames to find Verne.

On another planet in another time, Katherine Abdulov is Captain of the small ship Ameline. Estranged from her wealthy parents and her ex Victor Luciano, Abdulov is at the end of her tether and broke, so accepts a commission to ferry an Acolyte and a scientist to her home planet Strauli then on to the mysterious ‘Ark’ on the planet Doh.
These lives will soon become intertwined as they progress on their personal journeys as the arches randomly appear throughout the universe.

Whilst time travel and alternate worlds are familiar SF tropes, Powell creates something new and exciting through the use of the arches which span time and planets. His writing is enjoyable and exciting, which adds a modern edge to these tropes, as does the use of news bursts inserted between sections summarising events across each world to avoid info dumping. As Kat Abdulov plays tourist guide to passenger Drake, we also have another clever technique for world exposition that further and deftly avoids the Dan Brown school of scene setting!

The scale and shape of Powell’s universe is astounding, the story is an enjoyable romp and the characters are lively and fully fledged believable people. Gareth L Powell is a name to watch in the future of SF.

If you like the look of this check it out at The Recollection.