Archive for February, 2016

Alien Proliferation

February 8, 2016 - 4:10 pm No Comments

Alien Book 4
Author: Gini Koch
Publisher: DAW
Page count: 458pp
Release date: 6th Dec 2011
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

In the fourth Alien novel, Kitty Katt-Martini is heavily pregnant and almost ready to pop so is mostly confined to bed. That doesn’t stop her alien husband Jeff getting jealous when Chuckie Reynolds of the ET Division CIA, turns up for a meeting with Kitty and the CIA via video call to assess how the couple’s duties will be covered during maternity leave. Copper is angling for Reynold’s job and things are about to get hectic.
Jeff and Christopher are called to an urgent mission in Paris where it appears superbeings are attacking, but the imageer in Kitty’s home touches the screen showing the Paris attacks and knows something is wrong. The creatures the team are battling aren’t superbeings. So, what are they? Chuckie is veering towards a specially created super soldier. 
On top of all that, Kitty and Jeff are worried about whether their baby as a hybrid will have any mutated powers. After a difficult childbirth, danger comes calling again as old school frriend Amy turns up telling Kitty that members of ET Division and PTCU are being hunted. From there on, expect the myriad of mayhem, adventure and insanity that comes with these books.
Kitty as a new mother with her own skill set and an abundance of brains and bravery proves that having ovaries is not a disability. She kicks ass with the best of them, chasing bad guys, juggling breast feeding and snuggles for her newborn baby Jamie, whilst Daddy Jeff also sets a good example. What I particularly enjoy about this series, isn’t just the sense of humour, which is there in droves, but the way in which characters are not restricted by their backgrounds and fight against perceived limitations. Koch presents a diverse cast of characters who defy expectations. As always, bearing in mind this is the fourth book in the series, Koch delivers on every level, and leaves you wanting more.

Something Coming Through

February 3, 2016 - 4:05 pm No Comments

Something Coming Through
Author: Paul McAuley
Publisher: Gollancz
Page count: 383pp (paperback)
Release date: 14th Jan 2016
reviewed by Chris Amies

Paul McAuley’s latest novel tells of an Earth that has been contacted by aliens called the Jackaroo. Chloe, working for an organisation called Disruption Theory in London, is tracking weird phenomena relating to the aliens and happens upon a young boy who is drawing strangely hypnotic structures. Meanwhile on the planet Mangala, detective Vic Gayle is investigating a murder.

Although the two converging strands of this novel involve murder on a distant world, gangsters and dangerous robotic lifeforms, there is a slowness to this narrative that allows us to admire the scenery. The story starts in a London that feels like the present day only a present day with alien coral reefs and avatars. Change has come in the wake of a briefcase nuke detonated in Trafalgar Square. Now there are people who appear to be conduits for the aliens, but what the aliens want is another matter. As McAuley says, “… the way that technology has become a cargo cult that is changing us in ways we can neither predict nor, as yet, fully understand.” Not everyone is happy with the new order: an organisation called the Human Decency League – something like UKIP – is ranged against the Jackaroo and has Disruption Theory in their sights.

Chloe is an intriguing character – streetwise and almost too cynical for her young age but no cliche. The second story set on Mangala infuriated me by its setting – I made a note ‘How redshifted was my valley’ and this stuck with me: McAuley describes the planet as like ‘an alternate Earth or the kind of fictional country where action films … were staged’, with alien avatars and biochines (biological+machines). Investigator Gayle comes across as something like Jack Regan from ‘The Sweeney’ and the whole is reminiscent of a Western both set and made in the 1970s and with gangsters, bent cops, poverty and drugs – because they can just pile through a wormhole along with the builders of fast food restaurants and supermarkets. There are alien drugs and dealing with their effects is a full-time job for the cops on Mangala. If Cormac McCarthy were to set a novel in space it could resemble this. The alien entity that seems to be influencing young Farhad and his sister Rana is called Ugly Chicken – a reference to Howard Waldrop’s story? The phrase “Easy Travel to Other Planets” also gets used a few times and is the title of a novel by American novelist Ted Mooney and which isn’t really about space travel. The Jackaroo themselves are enigmatic and their gifts to humankind ambivalent.

There is a sequel named “Into Everywhere.” It will be interesting to see how the mystery of the Jackaroo and what they want – and what happened to the races they contacted before they got to Earth – develops.

Drone

February 2, 2016 - 1:20 pm No Comments

Drone by Jackson Dean Chase
Published on 10th April 2015
Publisher: Jackson Dean Chase Inc
Page count: 202 page.

I was given this book in exchange for a honest review.
As soon as you start reading this book you are transported into a dystopian world. Vikka, a teenage girl is a Drone ( lower class). The drones are bred to work for the elite in their factories, wearing drab clothing, struggling to find enough food and always worrying about the oxygen wither by being able to pay for it in their apartments or by wearing a tank whilst out and about.
To get extra money Drones are able to sell limbs or organs to the elite. Vikka’s mom had to do this her dad lost his legs due to a bomb planted by the revolution.
At the start of the story Vikka is on her way to sell her organs to get some money to pay their oxygen bill, but travelling in the worse area of the city gets her in to trouble. Enter elite boy Zan who father is the leader of the government who just happened to be cruising round this area for fun. He sees Vikka in trouble and comes to the rescue.
After rescuing her he takes her to a clinic in the posher end of town to donate her organs, but unbeknown to both of them she ends up involved in a secret genetic experiment to turn her into a super human.
The decision she makes results in her joining up with the most unlikely characters to get to the bottom of the trouble.
The city reminds me of the colony in Total Recall, and although both stories have the revolution that is were the comparison stops. This is a story about love, betrayal and survival. The character’s have their own identity and Vikka is your typical teenage and at times you are wondering why she did not think through her actions,but you can feel that she has a heart of gold and wants to protect her family and friends. Whilst you are reading this book you will have your favourite one of the group.
The book will keep you interested and I was surprised when I finished this book so quickly. It does finish on a cliffhanger but there is a book 2.
A nice finish is that there is also a short story entitled Hard times in Dronetown, which tells the story of Rylee who has a small part in Drone