Archive for category SF

WWW: Wake – Robert J. Sawyer

Wake - Robert J. SawyerBut can they make a TV show?

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.  Summary: Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it’s getting smarter …(quoted from the author’s website) Provenance: Borrowed from the local library in e-book form.

Fun, fast read. I was reminded of Brin’s Earth, and of the birth of the Countermeasure at the beginning of Vinge’s A Fire upon the Deep.

I think my kids will really enjoy this.  Over the years, I have read so many ‘rise of an AI’ books that it was immediately clear what was going on.  So, in reading it, I had to look for the divergences from what I exactly expected.

The only microscopic hold-back from four stars is the occasional nagging feeling that … if only the writing were more lyrical, the result could be awesome.  Don’t get me wrong – I blitzed through this with a lot of enjoyment. I am just not sure that there’s meat on the plot-skeleton to make a second meal of it.

 Linkage Stuff and a few Quibbles below

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Tritcheon Hash – Sue Lange

Stars: Three out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.
Summary: This book is super-hard to classify.  It’s funny, crude, feminist, absurd, SF, toys with romance,and detours through adventure. You never know what’s coming next.
 
Provenance: e-copy suggested for review by author about 12 months ago.

I wish I’d taken some notes while I read this, rather than just the star rating. There were some laugh-out-loud moments, and some snickers. Even a year later I remember enjoying Trish’s running commentary as she waits for a test flight in a very uncomfortable cockpit.

 

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The Truth of Valor – Tanya Huff

Slogged through the mud to victory.

Stars: Four out of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Summary: Former Marine Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is attempting to build a new life with salvage operator Craig Ryder on his ship, the Promise. Turns out civilian life is a lot rougher than she’d imagined-salvage operators are losing both cargo and lives to pirates. And when they attack the Promise, Craig is taken prisoner and Torin is left for dead.When Torin finds out why the pirates needed Craig, she calls in the Marines to get him back – and to stop the pirates from changing the balance of power in known space. (from the publisher via bookdaze)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

I had a difficult three-score pages getting started with The Truth of Valor. I climbed out of this ‘mud’ when in chapter three (page 59 my book) Torin and Craig spar (verbally) over whether they should take up a fight against apparent pirates who’ve killed an ex-Marine.

Up till then, though, I was starting to worry whether Torin had jumped the shark at the end of Valor’s Trial. Was the ‘War was a Sham’ finale of the previous book going to leave her purposeless? If so, I didn’t want to see the ugly result.  But… Who knows, maybe this was deliberate meta-suspense on Huff’s part! Mean of her, if so. I was starting to worry maybe this wasn’t going to work out!

In the course of writing this review, I’ve decided that this book actually describes Torin turning an important corner in her life, now that the big war has been revealed to be a fake. She’s going to have a new mission in future books (see my liked list below if you don’t mind spoilers).

Recommended especially to Torin fans. Remember, Torin is like Heris Serrano in her purple uniform!

Linkage, Spoilage, and minor Quibbles below

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Diving into the Wreck – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Three novellas with the depth of a novel (sry bout that).

Stars: Four of five.

Review format: Review plus links.
Diving into the Wreck – Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Summary: Boss loves to dive historical ships, derelict spacecraft found adrift in the blackness between the stars. Sometimes she salvages for money, but mostly she’s an active historian. She wants to know about the past–to experience it firsthand. Once she’s dived the ship, she’ll either leave it for others to find or file a claim so that she can bring tourists to dive it as well. It’s a good life for a tough loner, with more interest in artifacts than people.Then one day, Boss finds the claim of a lifetime: an enormous spacecraft, incredibly old, and apparently Earth-made. It’s impossible for something so old, built in the days before Faster Than Light travel, to have journeyed this far from Earth. It shouldn’t be here. Itcan’t be here. And yet, it is. Boss’s curiosity is up, and she’s determined to investigate. She hires a group of divers to explore the wreck with her, the best team she can assemble. But some secrets are best kept hidden, and the past won t give up its treasures without exacting a price in blood.What Boss finds could rewrite history, cost lives, and start an intergalactic war. (from the author’s site)
Provenance: Borrowed from the local library.

Diving into the Wreck is a work composed of three novellas, each picking up with the main story following the conclusion of the prior. The first two were previously published in Asimov’s Readers’ Choice  Award-winning novella  – “Diving into the Wreck”, and “Room of Lost Souls”.

In all sections, the first-person narrator is a female forty-something loner – pilot and wreck diver who seems only to go by the title/name Boss.  Although she works with teams often, being alone seems to be most important to her.  This character’s point of view is stronger than what I recall of her Retrieval Artist books.  Boss is a character worthy of the characterization skills Rusch demonstrated in the short story Elites.

The first novella stands on its own the best, although all seem as though they would be self-sufficient if you encounter them without backstory.  As it was, I found the internal novellas to be an asset to the book’s structure – they gave it an internal rhythm and focus that sometimes a longer book lacks.

Last one, though packed with the most external action, trailed off post-climax with tell-don’t-show groundwork for future storylines.

Ware Spoilers below

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