It's time for the apocalypse, isn't it? All the signs are lining up: wars in the mid-east, the anti-christ has been selected, and six of the seven books about that boy sorcerer and his friends have been published.
So why is Christine always in the right place, at the right time, to do what? Is she supposed to help or hinder? In fact, it's not really clear who is in charge and what they are trying to accomplish. Angels seem to be operating at cross purposes.
As Christine bounces around the world to interview the general for Israel, her house is being vandalized. Why would anyone use ketchup to draw a backwards swastika on her carpet? And, because it's backwards it doesn't count as a hate crime? Oh, well, now she has a new linoleum floor in her breakfast nook, thanks to the premature death of a neighbor. At least it is a "welcoming" pattern ...
Don't miss the apocalyse vs flooring theory of history. Countless times flooring issues are ignored because of the expectation that it won't matter anymore soon, only to have to deal with it after all because the Apocalypse fails to appear on schedule. Again.
The book has a great assortment of characters, acting rationally and irrationally. Humor abounds and it even all makes sense, in the end, mostly. Don't miss the cherubim who works for tips - tips he insists on giving out such as "ants walking single file means rain".
The story flows well without slow spots. The reader is well matched to the material to bring the whole squirrely thing to life. It does for the apocalypse what "Caddyshack" did for golf.
I read some of the Medservice stories when I was a kid and remembered them fondly. It pays to go back and reread fiction as an adult. There are surprises. As a child, I read the story; now I read the subtext. It is fascinating to see some points made are just as appropriate now as when the story was written and others not. (This is probably be the only SF short story that you will ever read that includes a cattle stampede.)
The main thrust of this story is prejudice. Leinster writes a story about two worlds and the tension that was created when a plague made one world fear the other. The visible reminder of the plague, patches of blue pigmented skin on survivors and their children, serves to keep the fear alive in the world that escaped the plague. Generations later politicians are using fear mongering to prove that they are each tougher than the other guy in keeping the world free of plague even though the plague is past tense. Sound familiar?
The problem is that the blue-skin planet is facing starvation and is desperate. The plague free planet has excess food but is so rabidly anti-contact that they refuse to consider any kind of trade, ignoring any possible way to help the other planet, even though there is profit to be had. Instead politicians advocate destroying the blue-skin planet (which is plague free now).
Calhoun sets out to solve this conflict, and you know that his medical skills will be brought to bear, and his trademark monkey-like companion will contribute a cure of some kind.
But there is another subtext here that is painful for me as a woman and an illustration of the toxic role models of the 50's. The one woman in the story (setup as potential love interest) is a cipher appropriate to the kind of woman considered desirable in media then. "Look pretty and give the hero a chance to explain things."
She was sent as a spy since she is one of the lucky ones that doesn't have blue patches; she "passes" as non-tainted. Her boyfriend back on the blue-skin planet is actively trying to avert starvation by engineering food from weeds. He sent her off planet to spy, expecting her to desert and find a better life. Instead she returns to be with her true love.
Calhoun trains a group of pilots to ferry food back to the blue-skin planet. She asks why he didn't train her.
Commence eye-rolls: He explains that he saved her from being one of the heroes! That her boyfriend wouldn't love her if she outshone him! Instead Calhoun instructs her on what medical breakthroughs she should "steer" her boyfriend toward in the future!
This is 50's think, folks. The little woman standing behind her man and pushing him forward without his knowledge. Oh, the subterfuge.
So I would call this story as one hit, one strike, and two balls (food and payment exchange is overly complex, and genetically engineered plants fail to have calories). Sorry if my baseball analogy is off-base.
I started out enjoying the book for low key humor and avoidance of casual violence. A strong point was good integration of drone technology. But I ended up annoyed with it for the inward facing hero, non-nonsensical plot twists, and the author's cursory use of women.
Our hero is tortured by memories of trauma in the previous book and continued interference of a serial killer. He takes refuge in a dog and a girlfriend. Of the two, the dog gets more character development. The woman exists to comfort our hero and give him dialog opportunities. Nostalgia abounds. References to movies, songs, and literature are liberally inserted. Some sightseeing of LA is to be had.
The plot is interesting enough to hold the reader's attention. Some plot threads come together in interesting ways. However, after all the careful unraveling of clues and dramatic tension, the confrontation that the reader looks forward to, between hero, villain, and henchman is abruptly prevented by a plot twist. Villain and henchman are killed off-screen in separate events, leaving more questions then answers. The plot is wrestled into a new channel that is unsatisfying.
The opening mystery and 3, count them, 3 hints that there is going to be a fantasy element in this plot, are all, ALL, red herrings. The solution of the central question of angel murder is suggested but never resolved; the hints at clairvoyance are dead ends.
The only other woman character that gets more than a couple of pages turns out to be .... fill in the blank "film noir" stereotype. (There are other interesting woman briefly mentioned for short supporting roles.)
I had to listen twice to come to appreciate the book. First time through the wackiness threw me. It all seemed nonsensical. The captain's behavior is bizarre.
Then, desperate for something non-dystopian, I listened again, and picked up on details. There really is no padding to allow the reader tune out. The plot bashes so many scifi tropes that it is hard to keep up, but the effort is rewarded. (Don't miss the chicken in exo-skeleton!) You will recognize some particular Star Trek episodes, as well as other scifi movies under attack.
Hopefully there is enough material left for sequels. I can think of some I would like to see parodied, such as Spock's mating rituals.
MacLeod Andrews' performance is nearly flawless. Excellent rendition of Dr. Printlips voice is worth the price of admission.
It is worth the effort. So reserve this book for when you want to concentrate on having fun; it deserves the attention. I expect to listen again.
I am declaring war on dystopian futures by not reading them anymore. This is one of the few books that give me hope there are other things to read, that can be enjoyed.
This installment of Rivers of London is like riding a roller coaster in the dark! Every time you think the story is predictable it takes off in an unexpected direction. And you want to stay alert because every word counts.
First, ignore the blurb that Audible has above. It was written by someone that did not read the book. They took a simple fact, the case is about missing children, and made up conflicts that are not in the book; uncooperative local police and shops close at 4pm? Someone is winging it.
But back to the book (where local police Are cooperative), to avoid spoilers just say we get to spend more time with Peter Grant and the river spirits. We make new friends, see some new examples of non-humans. Peter faces mysteries and dangerous confrontations and plays with new magic spells. We get a new clue about Molly.
Book 4, Broken Homes, was a bit of downer. In this book, Peter gets on with life. Leslie's voice is still with him, goading him on to solve problems, even though she's out of the picture (mostly). We get more hints about the ultimate story arc but it is not solved here.
That suits me because it is so nice to read books written by someone you can trust to entertain you. The author is a master of writing enjoyable prose. I'll be rereading it with pleasure.
First off, don't avoid this book because you haven't read "John Carter of Mars". This book stands quite well on it's own. I only tried to read that book after enjoying "Jane" so much, but in comparison "John" is rather boring. (personal opinion, ymmv).
This author has taken the blue-print provided by "John Carter of Mars" and sculpted a very entertaining read. It is rather like comparing black & white movies with technicolor. The original will always be referred to as "classic" but reinterpretations can add detail, flavor and nuance to improve the trope.
"Jane" has brought humor as well as a well fleshed out (in both senses) female character to the table. Read it, it's just plain fun.
This book is one of two that I consider the best of audiobook entertainment. It is one of a few that I return to over and over to reread when I can't find something new. The narration is perfect.
Even though Mosca Mye is a orphan child, she becomes embroiled in an adult conspiracy that dates back to her father's past. She travels with two companions, a goose (Saracen) and a con-man (Eponymous Clent). The goose is her protector; the con-man is her albatross. The plot unfolds into a real world conspiracy of national importance without hint of contrivance.
It is an adventure comparable with Huckleberry Finn. The plot is engaging and satisfying. We are treated to a spunky preteen girl who is a complete person. She doesn't whine, she doesn't procrastinate, she just gets on with things. She makes mistakes; she is getting by with incomplete information, but she doesn't stop to worry. Life hasn't been kind to her so she deals with it. How refreshing. She could be compared to Pipi Longstocking, but she is more grounded.
The world building is superb. History, fable, and religion are fleshed out to provide a complete and satisfying back story. Names of people and places are entertaining in their own right, providing the perfect atmosphere of mythic importance.
Don't miss the crocodile that protects the evil princess.
I do like the series, the setup and characters. But was disappointed in this installment. There is little plot, and missed opportunities. For instance there is a ball for Sophronia's older brother's engagement but the older brother and his intended don't get any story time. Instead we read about hours of dressing and gossiping. Then the engagement party is reduced to an opportunity for mischief and our cast of characters are off on balloon and train chases. The book substitutes chase scenes for plot development.
Ultimately 3 characters face life altering decisions because they couldn't stay home and let adults take care of the problem of what will become of the Scotland werewolf pack. The book ends before they come near the pack. The plot really is that thin. They do discover a couple of clues but the plot is only advanced slightly.
The best part is the fight with steel fans.
If you want plot, wait for the next book. If you enjoy long expositions about a girls' school and who to love or not, with occasional daring do, read on.
This is THE story of the first encounter with the mysterious, unavailable male romantic lead, and it is too tedious. Author should have reserved it for full treatment in a prequel. As a short story it does not add to the series.
Rather than write a book report, I'll just say that I hope to see more of this series, in longer books. Enjoyed the story, enjoyed the premise, enjoyed the performance. I particularly like the way the author included women as active characters as well as men. The author writes well, with nice descriptive text to set up scenes and flesh out characters. The reader could be a little more careful about doing a Latino accent but it was nice to hear him try.
I can't speak to the military aspect of the story - it sounds authentic albeit idealized. So, for the genre it is in, it is entertaining. The characters are enjoyable and varied stereotypes (good commanders, poor commanders, good sergeant, good tech guru, good pilots).
But if you have any, Any, experience in space travel fiction, you will find the story rather thin. The battles read like WWII naval battles, where ships cruise back and forth near a harbor forcing the target ships to lay low and hide out. But Space is big, and it is three dimensional, so the same scenario is forced. They rush to portholes to see the enemy ship! Portholes on a troop carrier! They are "running silent" as in old submarine parlance, and apparently that means they can't even turn on a video feed.
Also, you have to accept the premise that the very latest thing in battle cruisers doesn't have something as basic as video coverage in the corridors, allowing the invaders to wander about the ship undetected as long as no one sees them and radios back to command. No sensors of any kind are installed.
Finally, while there is a rather obvious explanation for the mystery presented, it is NEVER dealt with. At the end of the book, no one knows who the enemy is! Presumably this plot issue will get some attention in the next books of the series. Readers can continue on if they like the characters, and they don't need much science in their science fiction.
The author does write an entertaining book, and can write better books in the future.
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