Category Archives: colony world

Review of INDIE EBOOK The Backworlds by M. Pax #Brainfluffbookreview #TheBackworldsbookreview

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The Backworlds is one of the 52 books on offer during the Instafeebie LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi giveaway, which I had the pleasure of reading a while ago. This is my review. Running Out of Space is also part of this giveaway, if you haven’t already got hold of a copy and would like to give it a try.

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

The initial couple of chapters pack a real punch – Craze’s hurt and amazement at his father’s double-cross is believable and immediately had me rooting for him. Pax shows her experience in the slick handling of her protagonist – too much fury and resistance would have unduly slowed the pace, while a mere defeated shrug would have still had the reader convinced that his father was a complete ratbag, but would not necessarily have engendered quite as much sympathy for the main character.

After his unpleasant ejection from his village, the story follows a familiar pattern – an inexperienced youngster having to make his way in an innately hostile and uncaring world. This time around, the worlds are hostile with knobs on. In the aftermath of an interplanetary war, no one is particularly welcoming – except for the two aviarmen he encounters on his first journey offworld… And immediately the three of them spin off into an adventure, while trying to find a foothold somewhere to make their fortunes.

The writing is pacy, direct and very readable. Pax knows how to write an interesting, detailed character, provide an entertaining and believable backdrop, while keeping the action coming. I was swept along with the action and particularly enjoyed the colourful dialogue.
9/10

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Instafreebie Giveaway – LEGION – Women Authors of Sci-Fi

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This giveaway is running until 21st August and is featuring women writing science fiction and yes – Running Out of Space is in there, along with 51 other books! I’m delighted to be part of any group that raises the profile of indie women authors writing my favourite genre and maybe you might like to check it out – here.

Review of Crossways – Book 2 of the Psi-Tech series by Jacey Bedford #Brainfluffbookreview #Crosswaysbookreview

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When visiting Forbidden Planet earlier in the year, I was delighted to find this offering on the shelves and given it isn’t available as an ebook in this country, I scooped it up with glee and have taken far too long to get around it, given how much I enjoyed the first book, Empire of Dust – see my review here.

Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught. So they better not get caught…

That’s as much of the rather chatty blurb I’m willing to share, as it gives away far too many plotpoints relating to the first book for my liking and if you are going to get the best out of Crossways, I recommend that you first get hold of Empire of Dust.

This is another action-packed offering featuring Ben and Cara, who have gone up against two of the major corporations running humanity, both in space and on the colonies scattered through space. Faster-than-lightspeed travel is possible by travelling through the Void by using jumpships. There are a couple of major snags to this technology, though. The first is that you need highly trained jumpship pilots, who can mentally visualise their destination and using their neural energy, pull the ship through the Void without being distracted by the monsters swimming through voidspace conjured up by their imagination. And the other problem is that jumpships need platinum to work, always a rare commodity.

I really like the fact that Ben and Cara are thoroughly ensnared by these two issues – the first novel focuses on what happens when a large deposit of platinum is discovered in a very inconvenient place and the crimes some people are prepared to commit to get their hands on it. In this book, while the antagonist is clearly ambitious and greedy, there is an ongoing problem – what will happen to farflung colonies and the rule of law if jumpships run critically short of this vital fuel?

The other issue is what happens in the Void – this was touched upon in Empire of Dust, but Bedford further examines just how lethal travelling by jumpship can be. There is a steady stream of ships that never make it out of the Void, including the one carrying Ben’s own parents when he was a child. His own experiences within the Void are increasingly causing him to question what he was told in his training – that those monsters he sees swimming through the hull of his ship while in the Void are products of his imagination and that he is to ignore them at all costs. Because if he makes the mistake of trying to interact with them, there is a likelihood he will be distracted, and given it is his mental focus that pulls the jumpship free of the Void, that could spell disaster for everyone on board.

These issues are unpacked in amongst a foot-to-floor action-packed adventure, where Ben and Cara are struggling to stay alive, while a number of the most powerful organisations in the galaxy want them dead. I am delighted to report that I have also got the third book in this trilogy, Nimbus, and I will be tucking into it very soon. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, well written space opera and highly recommended for fans of the genre.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week to feature on any of our covers is a starry sky. I’ve selected The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett – see my review here.

 

This edition was produced by Berkley in June 2017 and is my favourite. I think the starscape is absolutely beautiful and also suits the mood and content of the story. It also works really well as a thumbnail. If I had a quibble, it would be that I wish the title and author font had been given a bit more love and attention as they are rather boring.

 

Published in June 2017 by Pan Macmillan, this cover is eye-catching and reasonably attractive, though I don’t like it as much as the previous effort. However I do like the bright orange lettering, which works well against the backdrop. My main misgiving is that the book deals with the aftermath of a lethal virus and this cover looks a bit too cosy for the content.

 

This Italian edition, published by Leggereditore in June 2017, suffers from the same issue as the previous cover – it almost looks as though it could be a cover for a children’s book. And while this isn’t the gory type of post-apocalyptic story, the themes are only suitable for adults.

 

This edition, produced by Pan in March 2018 is an interesting example of what a difference an alternative colour scheme can make to the same design. I far prefer this version as I think both the orange lettering and the sky stands out more effectively. I also like the fact the woman is moving, rather than standing still.

 

This cover was published in November 2017 by Thorndike Press Large Print and is my least favourite. I’ve no quarrel with starscapes – in fact I’m a real sucker for them, but this is a particularly charmless effort with hardly any stars. It looks as though someone has knocked together this cover after browsing Shutterstock for all of ten minutes. Which one of these is your favourite?

#Sunday Post – 29th July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s been the first full week of the school holidays – and we travelled back to Brighton to pick up Frances on Tuesday from her last day at school. She was thrilled with the prospect of the summer break and to celebrate we stopped off at the local Haskins for a round of hand-made pizzas, which were very yummy. On Wednesday, Frances joined in my Pilates and Fitstep lessons during the morning in the sweltering village hall and in the afternoon, we met up with my sister and had a long, leisurely lunch – it was too hot to do anything else. On Thursday, we needed to shop for a few bits and pieces, when I discovered the delights of iced coffee and Frances sampled a hot chocolate scone, thinking she was getting a cookie…

On Friday, my writing buddy Mhairi came over for the day and we spent some of the time formatting Running Out of Space in preparation for a paperback version – the rest of the time, we were busy closing down and unplugging the computers and router when several thunderstorms swept through. During the evening, we went beach to see if we could see the lunar eclipse but though we waited, hoping the cloud cover would thin, it didn’t. However, we were treated to an amazing display of blood-red lightning, presumably reflecting from the colour of the moon. It was supposed to be my friend’s birthday party on Saturday evening, but poor Sally was crippled with a bad back, so I helped her ring around the guests to postpone it until she feels better, while Frances walked to the beach with Tim. Today we are travelling to visit my mother and father who haven’t seen Frances since last year.

This week I have read:

White Silence – Book 1 of the Elizabeth Cage series by Jodi Taylor
Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her.
What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control.
This paranormal thriller has plenty of the energy and twists I’ve come to expect from Taylor’s writing in her very successful The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, though Elizabeth definitely isn’t the adrenaline-junkie that Max is… A highly entertaining roller-coaster read.

 

Like a Boss – Book 2 of thendswept series by Adam Rukunas
After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him.
This sequel to the successful Windswept isn’t perhaps as sharp or well realised as the first book, but I was happy to go along with the adventure, given I’m very fond of Padma and love the world.

 

The Tea Master and the Detective – The Xuya Universe novella by Aliette de Bodard
Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.
This is space-based whodunit nods to the Sherlock Holmes series, while adding important ingredients that can only exist in the far future. An intriguing, entertaining read.

 

The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
Alaska, 1974. Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed. For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.
I loved this one. The writing is lyrical, the worldbuilding exceptional and the story full of unexpected twists. And that cover – ooo… Many thanks to my lovely mother for sending this one to me.

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 22nd July 2018

Review of Removed – Book 1 of the Nogiku series by S.J. Pajonas

Teaser Tuesday featuring Like a Boss – Book 2 of the Windswept series by Adam Rakunas

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring Immortal Creators by Jill Bowers

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Redemption’s Blade : After the War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Friday Face-off – Here we are trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why… featuring The Affinity Bridge – Book 1 of the Newbury and Hobbes series by George Mann

Review of The Tethered Mage – Book 1 of the Swords and Fire series by Melissa Caruso

 

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

Follow the Vikings https://inesemjphotography.com/2018/07/28/follow-the-vikings/ This talented photographer has perfectly captured the flavour of this amazing Follow the Vikings Roadshow when it came to Waterford in Ireland

Untitled https://photolicioux.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/untitled-146/ I loved this one…

Jupiter’s New Moons https://earthianhivemind.net/2018/07/25/jupiters-new-moons/ I love the fact that we are constantly discovering new facts about our solar system – and this is one of those exciting facts.

Then and Now at RWA National Conferences http://writerunboxed.com/2018/07/25/all-the-things-at-rwa-national-in-denver/ Barbara O’Neal has written with affection and verve about her experiences with the Romance Writers’ Association. I loved this article…

10 of the best poems by English Romantic Poets https://interestingliterature.com/2018/07/25/10-of-the-best-poems-by-english-romantic-poets/ I may not wholly agree with all these choices – but that’s okay. There are a number here I love…

Thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site and have a great week.

Teaser Tuesday – 24th July, 2018 #Brainfluffbookblog #TeaserTuesday

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

Like a Boss – Book 2 of the Windswept series by Adam Rakunas

p. 150. Saarien walked right up to me. “If you’re going to hit me again, please don’t hit me in the face.”
“I’m not going to hit you again. Though I hope you don’t give me a reason to.”
He nodded. “I heard what happened. I’m so glad you’re all right.”
“I’ll bet.” The goons formed a cordon around us, pushing him way too close to me.

BLURB: After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him.

This doesn’t have the same breathless energy of the first book and has taken me a while to get into it. But I am enjoying the investigation into the economic and political aspects of this colony world – normally it’s a subject more lightly dealt with, rather than being the engine that drives the action. So I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes…

Review of KINDLE Novella All Systems Red – Book 1 of the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells #Brainfluffbookreview #AllSystemsRedbookreview

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I’d heard nothing but good about this novella and the author, so treated myself with a hoarded voucher – and I’m very glad I did…

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

I love the snarky, cynical voice of the android protagonist, whose sharp-edged narration is in response to a previous traumatic incident, which has led to it calling itself Murderbot. Wells has managed to nail the weary acceptance of a life of drudgery and mistreatment – it is genuinely shocking when it casually mentions that some of the groups it has guarded have instructed the SecUnits shepherding them to fight each other. So it is very taken aback that this particular group of humans insist on treating it as a sentient being with feelings – and continue to do so. I also like the fact its hard-boiled façade abruptly disappears when it is looking after a badly injured scientist.

Wells’ narration is both skilful and engrossing as the troubling events start stacking up into a full-blown emergency. And this disillusioned, basic-model SecUnit is all that is keeping a frightened band of scientists alive in the face of overwhelming odds… The steady increase in tension is very well handled and I became engrossed in this memorable colony adventure.

My biggest grumble is that I wanted more – and it is an abiding problem I have with most novellas. Just as I am fully immersed into the world and the story-telling, it all comes to an abrupt end far too soon.
Highly recommended for science fiction fans – especially those who enjoy colony planet adventures.
9/10

Review of Library book Breach of Containment – Book 3 of the Central Corps series by Elizabeth Bonesteel #Brainfluffbookreview #BreachofContainmentbookreview

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I’ve read and enjoyed the previous two books in this engrossing, action-packed space opera adventure and very much looked forward to getting hold of this third book.

Hostilities between factions are threatening to explode into a shooting war on the moon of Yakutsk, and the two major galactic military powers, Central Corps and PSI, have sent ships to defuse the situation. But when a strange artefact is discovered, events are set in motion that threaten the entire colonized galaxy – including former Central Corps Commander Elena Shaw.

You can pick this one up and get involved in the adventure without reading the previous two books, but in order to get the very best out of it, I recommend that you go looking for The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust. Not only do these previous books give you a great insight into the world, Bonesteel tends to write her characters with layers and you will miss out on a fair amount if you aren’t aware of some key moments in their backstory.

It was with great pleasure and anticipation that I found myself back in this riven world, where the colonies, Earth, their appointed peacekeepers – the Corp and the shadowy PSI are all at odds with each other. And that doesn’t factor in some of the worrying moves made by a major terraforming mega corporation. So there is a complicated political standoff where tensions are running high. I love the way that Bonesteel juxtaposes these large major concerns with the issues in the lives of her major characters. As ever, the stage is set for a major adventure to kick off – and this time the domed human settlement of Yakutsk is the hub where the action initially begins. However, it isn’t where it ends…

The plot rackets along at a fair lick, which each character in this multi-viewpoint story giving their slice of the adventure. As ever, my main attention is snagged by the two main protagonists, Elena and Greg, who have been at the heart of the story since the first book. But I also really enjoyed learning more about Admiral Herrod, who was one of the main antagonists in the previous book. I always appreciate a writer who gives me a villain who isn’t your typical evil character, but someone trying to do the best they can while making morally wrong decisions along the way – which is the case for most of the ‘bad’ people I’ve encountered in my own lifetime.

This adventure held me until the end and in places really pulled at my heartstrings – it will be a long time before I forget the scene where Greg accompanies Captain Bayandi on his final mission… All in all, this was another storming addition to an excellent series. I note, with hope, that the ending leaves the way open for more adventures – so fingers crossed, Bonesteel is even now, planning the next slice in Greg and Elena’s lives. Highly recommended for space opera fans.
9/10

My Top Ten Favourite Reads of 2018 So Far… #Brainfluffbookblog

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Now that we are more than halfway through 2018, what are my standout reads? So far this year, I’ve read 73 books and in no particular order, my top 10 favourites of the year so far are:-

The Stone Sky – Book 3 of The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
This whole series blew me away. The extraordinary viewpoint and the worldbuilding that takes a science fiction premise and pushes it right to the edge. It has an epic fantasy feel with a strong family dynamic and remarkable characters – and perhaps most important, concluded this series with sufficient drama and conviction.

 

 

The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall
This space opera adventure, set on an intergalactic cruise-ship liner, was an unusual and riveting setting for this alien encounter. I liked the fact that the protagonists came from both the crew and passengers and enjoyed the growing tension as things slid away into a major emergency.

 

 

Blunt Force Magic by Lawrence Davis
I loved this one. A half-trained apprentice with loads of ability and no finesse finds himself having to stand against formidable antagonists. The chippy narrator and gritty take on this well-trodden path made this a memorably enjoyable read.

 

 

The Bitter Twins – Book 2 of The Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams
I’ve been a fan of Williams’ vibrant, energetic prose since I picked up The Copper Promise, but this one is an awesome braiding of both science fiction and fantasy. No mid-book slump here!

 

 

 

The Cold Between – Book 1 of the Central Corps novels by Elizabeth Bonesteel
This space opera focuses on the characters with ferocious intensity and we get a ringside seat as layered, plausible people grapple with their own lives in amongst the stars. Needless to say, there is also politics, greed and the need for revenge and love blended to make this one unputdownable once I’d started.

 

 

The Green Man’s Heir by Juliet McKenna
This is one of the reading highlights of the year so far. Set in England and steeped in the myths and folklore of this ancient land, the story follows the fortunes of a half-dryad man trying to trace his lineage. Needless to say, he is pitchforked into the middle of something dangerous and old…

 

 

 

Head On – Book 2 of the Lock In series by John Scalzi
I loved the first book in this futuristic crime series, Lock In, where victims of a terrible illness leaving them completely paralysed are able to upload their consciousness into robotic bodies. Our protagonist is now working for the police, investigating the murder of a sporting star, who plays a savage version of American football. Mayhem and action all the way…

 

 

 

Before Mars – Book 3 of the Planetfall series by Emma Newman
I’ve loved every one of these stories – and this one charting the fortunes of a woman newly arrived on a Martian outpost is another riveting read. It’s rare that motherhood is examined with any depth in science fiction stories – yet the protagonist has left a baby behind and is grappling with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. There is a terrible twist that those who have read the previous two books are waiting for…

 

Child I by Steve Tasane
You won’t have read anything quite like this one. The cover alone tells you it is something different – and yet I plunged into it, thinking it was set on a near-future, post-apocalyptic Earth. I was devastated to learn it is set right now and based on the testimonies of children alive today…

 

 

 

All Systems Red – Book 1 of the Murderbot Diaries novella series by Martha Wells
Hard enough to write a well-paced novella – writing convincingly as a security robot assigned to keep scientific teams out of harm is far more difficult. Yet Wells triumphantly pulls it off. A marvellous read – I just wish I could afford to read the rest of the series…

 

 

There were other near misses it hurts to omit – Isha Crowe’s quirky Gwithyas: Door to the Void, L.E. Modesitt’s Outcasts of Order and Children of the Shaman by Jessica Rydill to name but three. What about you – what are your favourite reads of the year, so far?

Review of LIBRARY book Windswept by Adam Rakunas #Brainfluffbookreview #Windsweptbookreview

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I plucked this one off the shelves because I liked the look of the cover – and it is published by Angry Robot, whose books often appeal to me if I’m in the mood for a foot-to-the-floor adventure.

Labour organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she’s supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before they’ll let her. She’s only thirty-three short, so when a small-time con artist tells her forty people are ready to tumble down the space elevator she checks it out… And that’s when her problems really begin…

I’ve slightly tweaked the rather chatty blurb, but hopefully you get the idea. This is a world where oil has gone and the fuel that now powers the galaxy is derived from sugar cane. This small scruffy outpost grows the stuff in industrial quantities and is sufficiently off the beaten track that a number of folks fleeing the encompassing control of the Big Three – the huge cartels that people are born into and become indentured to – are able to eke out a humble living while being free. However, once those new recruits hit the planet surface, events and Padma’s gritted bloody-mindedness rolls this story forward into a gathering whirlwind of events that doesn’t let up until the last page.

Padma is a force of nature. She just never admits defeat and while there are times when I find I am slightly sceptical that young heroines would be in a position of such responsibility to be at the hub of events powering a book forward, this isn’t the case with Padma. In fact, I’m slightly surprised she isn’t running the Universe. She is a grade-A hustler, with a motor-mouth that could sell rainy days to the Brits and a sharp eye for people’s soft spots. That would make her unbearable if she, too, didn’t have her vulnerabilities – which she does, courtesy of a nightmarish long-haul journey in hibernation, when the hibernating didn’t go quite right… Alongside Padma are a colourful cast of misfits and big personalities, some who are her allies while a fair number are ranged against her – Padma tends to collect a fair number of enemies.

Writing strong characters is one of Rakunas’s strengths – as is depicting a grungy, over-industrialised world where people are trying to rub along as best they can. While the action and non-stop adventure is clearly escapist fun, the underlying themes of community, standing up to injustice and the damage inflicted when the profit line rules is a very familiar message, which bears repeating – kudos to Rakunas for doing so without coming over preachy or ranting about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining colony world adventure and it comes highly recommended for fans of well-told, high-octane science fiction action tales.
9/10