Tag Archives: @SciFiMonth2019

Friday Faceoff – I send my words through Time and Space to greet you… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffFuturisticcovers #SciFiMonth2019

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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 this this week we are featuring FUTURISTIC covers. I’ve selected the classic sci fi adventure Use of Weapons – Book 3 of the Culture series by Iain M. Banks. I have linked this week’s Friday Faceoff to @SciFiMonth2019.

 

This edition was produced by Orbit in March 1993. I like the colour tones of the cover, but I’d like that cool, futuristic city to be more visible, rather than lurking in the background. And while I’m aware that it is Banks’ name that is selling the book, the title font is all but invisible in that colour against the background, the minute this cover gets minimised.

 

This French edition, published in November 2011 by Ailleurs & Demain, far more successfully evokes the feeling of a far future settlement. I love the use of those cool blues… This one would have been my favourite, but for that hideously ugly textbox plonked off-centre as a complete afterthought. What a shame!

 

Published by Le Livre de Poche in September 2007, this French edition is the reason why I picked this book for this subject. I love this scene with the huge mothership looming above with the nippy fighter craft zipping about and all those cool-looking futuristic weaponry on display. The title and author font has a pleasing synergy with the tone and feel of the cover design. I think this one nails it and is my favourite.

 

This Hungarian edition, published by Agave Könyvek in 2006, takes a different approach. I get the sense that you wouldn’t want to be sitting in that chair with all those nasty, sharp-looking armaments pointing at you… This cover radiates an effective sense of menace, but the title font is again, very underpowered when set against that punchy artwork.

 

This German edition, published in April 2015 by Heyne Verlag, is a great spacescape – what’s not to love? While it hasn’t got the cool detail of the French edition, it’s space, baby! And both author and title font also are effectively displayed and complement the design. Which is your favourite?

 

Review of INDIE Ebook New Star Rising – Book 1 of the Indigo Reports by Cameron Cooper #Brainfluffbookreview #NewStarRisingbookreview #Sci Fi Month 2019

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I saw this one on a recent Book Funnel promo and scooped it up, as I liked the idea of an android protagonist. I am linking this review to Sci Fi Month 2019.

BLURB: Be careful what you ask an android to do… Bellona Cardenas Scordina de Deluca, daughter of the primary Cardenas family, went missing ten years ago. Reynard Cardenas, Bellona’s father and head of the family, receives anonymous, unsubstantiated news that she has been found. He sends the most disposable person in the family to investigate—Sang, the family android. Sang’s investigation trips off chain reactions which shift the generations-old luke-warm war between Erium and Karassia into a galaxy-wide conflagration which will engulf the known worlds, including the neutral, fiercely independent free states…unless a hero can be found who will fight to hold the line against the two colossal forces.

I really enjoyed this one. Bellona disappears under peculiar circumstances ten years previously and when there is a tipoff that she may still be alive, Sang is sent off to track down the dodgy lead. I’m not saying more as the blurb is refreshingly spoiler-free and it would be a shame to give away any plotpoints in this action-packed space opera adventure.

I was initially drawn to this one by the quality of the writing. I have since discovered that Cameron Cooper is a pen-name for an experienced indie author with a number of books in other genres to her credit. And it shows. The twisting plot and quirky characters quickly pulled me into the action – no one is quite what they seem and I was genuinely shocked at some of the family dynamics within the Cardenas clan.

I liked all the protagonists and cared about what would happen to them – there is plenty of tension and a sense that not everyone would survive the book, which always tends to keep me turning the pages longer than I should. I didn’t see the final denouement coming and will be getting hold of the next slice in this entertaining series, as Cooper manages to keep it all about the main characters, while also successfully depicting the wider stakes if it all goes wrong.

Highly recommended for fans of adventure space opera featuring an interesting mix of human and not-so-human protagonists.
8/10

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Body Tourists by Jane Rogers #Brainfluffbookreview #BodyTouristsbookreview #SciFiMonth2019

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I’ve only ever heard good things about this author, so was delighted when I saw this arc available on Netgalley – and even more delighted to be approved to read it. I am also linking this one to @SciFiMonth2019.

BLURB: In this version of London, there is a small, private clinic. Behind its layers of security, procedures are taking place on poor, robust teenagers from northern Estates in exchange for thousands of pounds – procedures that will bring the wealthy dead back to life in these young supple bodies for fourteen days. It’s an opportunity for wrongs to be righted, for fathers to meet grandsons, for scientists to see their work completed. Old wine in new bottles. But at what cost?

This story is told in multiple viewpoints, as we are introduced to a number of characters who become involved in this experiment. Inevitably, there are some who stick in the mind more than others. Paula is stranded on one of the thousand estates where the working class forced into unemployment as their jobs are now automated, are housed. Many retreat into VR worlds as an escape, while existing on sub-standard food, sub-standard education and sub-standard opportunities. She uses the money she gets for renting out her body to open a dance studio for the youngsters who don’t want to live in a virtual world and inevitably, it is her students – unusually fit and healthy – who are targeted for Luke’s experimental process. I loved her struggles, both practically and ethically, to live the life she wants against a background of poverty and deprivation.

I also enjoyed the storyline of Elsa and Lindy, another memorable subplot that particularly chimed with me, as I’m also a teacher. I felt their story was poignantly portrayed and the passages when they were able to fully express their love for one another were beautiful. There is also the tale of Richard K, successful pop musician who made it after his dad died and now he’s well into his middle age, would like to have the chance to reconnect with his father again.

Rogers could so easily have made this a far more polemic read, but I liked the fact that this wasn’t a completely dark tale of the haves preying on the have-nots – until it suddenly was… That ending packed a real punch and was all the more devastating because it seemed all too plausible – although thankfully, I think the actual science behind this premise is a very long way down the line.

This very readable story is both engrossing and thought provoking – I always love it when science fiction does that. And while the overall premise isn’t a particularly original one, I thoroughly enjoyed Rogers’ treatment. Highly recommended for readers who might like to sample a strong science fiction read, but are nervous of the techie bits.

The ebook arc copy of Body Tourists was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book
9/10

Friday Faceoff – When all else fails: explosions… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffcoverswithexplosions #SciFiMonth2019

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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 subject this week featuring on any of our covers is EXPLOSIONS. I’ve selected Cibola Burn – Book 4 of The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey – see my review of Leviathan’s Wake. I’ve also linked this week’s meme with @SciFiMonth2019, given this epic space opera series is such a success.

 

This edition was produced by Orbit June 2014. I love the big, blockbuster feel of this cover, which really suits the feel of this large-scale epic space opera series. This is the default cover from which many of the others are derived – and with good reason, given the drama it engenders. I also like a punchy orange title font and the large blocky design, giving a slightly retro feel to the book design. This is my favourite – it looks good both full-sized and in thumbnail.

 

Published in November 2018 by MAG, this Polish edition has opted for a completely different feel. Gone is the large space station, the flaming debris from a disintegrating ship – we don’t even have a distant nebula or starscape to relieve the ink-black background. There is just a drifting astronaut with a bunch of cables… In thumbnail, you cannot make out what is going on – and given this was only released last year, that is a fundamental error. The feeble font is all but eaten up by that black background and certainly doesn’t prevail once the cover is shrunk. I think this is bleak and boring.

 

This Serbian edition, published by Laguna in June 2016, is more like it! I love the way the central artwork is highlighted with that dramatic red backdrop, so those tentacles waving in the air take centre stage. The lightning streaking through that awesome title font is also a lovely touch, as it the nifty little shuttle perched on the rocky outcrop off to the left. Overall, I really like the eye-catching drama of this offering – a huge improvement on that previous dreary effort. It is so nearly my favourite…

 

This Italian edition has gone back to the original cover for inspiration, enlarging that exploding piece of space debris and making the title a bit funkier. I think this gives the cover extra visual drama, as that blazing explosion really stands out, but it is at the expense of the monumental scale of the original cover, which I think works better. Though it’s SUCH a close-run thing… ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably vote for this one, instead.

 

This Russian edition, published in June 2018 by Эксмо: fanzon is also another cover which offers an epic overview of a dramatic space battle. The colours are more muted, but I love the artwork and I think the scene is beautiful. The detail of the dreadnaught in the centre of the cover is fabulous. However, while I absolutely love it as a piece of artwork, I don’t think it ticks enough boxes as a cover. In thumbnail, once again, it’s too dark. And the title and author fonts fail to sufficiently stand out. Which is your favourite?

 

Review of LIBRARY book The Switch by Justina Robson #Brainfluffbookreview #TheSwitchbookreview #SciFiMonth2019

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I thoroughly enjoy Robson’s intelligent, layered fantasy – see my review of Salvation’s Fire: After the War – so I was delighted to find this offering on the shelves of my local library. I am also linking this review to the @SciFiMonth Challenge.

BLURB: In Harmony, only model citizens are welcome. A perfect society must be maintained. The defective must be eradicated. For orphans like Nico and Twostar, this means a life that’s brutal, regulated and short. But Nico and Twostar are survivors, and when they’re offered a way out of the slums, they take it. Unfortunately, no one told Nico the deal included being sentenced to death for the murder of one of Harmony’s most notorious gang leaders. Or that to gain his freedom, first he must lose his mind.

In many ways, this book follows a tried and tested trope guaranteed to pull readers in and make them care – two orphaned children in a horrible institution make a break to try their luck on the streets. And, yes, you’ve guessed it – the streets aren’t exactly brimming with nurturing kindness, either. They need to live on their wits and toughness, or die. Twostar is prodigiously clever with any tech that comes her way – so it’s Nico’s job to bring down any drones coming their way, enabling her to break them up for parts. Until they come to the attention of one of the local cartels…

The story is told in Nico’s first person viewpoint throughout, which is always my favourite pov when it’s done well. And because this is Robson, it’s fabulous. I love the depth and complexity she manages to bring to this complicated, tough, angry man without compromising the pace or tension. In fact, because I can connect so deeply with him and his innermost thoughts and fears, when he finds those thoughts no longer belong solely to him – I found I identified with the violation he felt. Again, it’s not an original theme within sci fi, but this time around I found I really, really minded alongside Nico when those upgrades he thought would provide him with abilities to pilot his way off the planet have added extras he wasn’t told about…

The other aspect of this book that isn’t immediately apparent, is that one of the reasons why both Twostar and Nico find themselves in the orphanage, is that they are faulty. Both of them are attracted to their own sex – an aberration that is regarded as unacceptable on Harmony. Unsurprisingly, Nico regards this aspect of his personality with some ambivalence, which Robson writes with compassion, insight and great tenderness. While the romance in this book isn’t a major component of story, especially in the beginning, I was extremely impressed at the intensity and beauty of the relationship that is featured. Though not surprised – this is, after all, Justina Robson…

This book is a standalone, apparently. And I am torn – I put it down with an unhappy sigh when I got to the end because I wanted to go on seeing the world through Nico’s eyes. But I’d hate to read a sequel that wasn’t as awesomely wonderful as this offering.
9/10

Review of KINDLE Ebook Dark Matter by Blake Crouch #Brainfluffbookreview #DarkMatterbookreview #@SciFiMonth

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I was aware the rest of the universe had read and raved about this one and was all set to somewhat sulkily shun it for that very reason, but one of my book blogging buddies persuaded me to give it a go. Sorry if it was you and I haven’t namechecked you, but I have the memory of a goldfish. I am also linking this review to @SciFiMonth, where you can find lots of sci fi goodness.

BLURB: Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters. It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”. Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And someone is hunting him.

And if that sounds like a rather creepy thriller, you’d be right – it is. But there is also a solid sci fi element nested within the plot that I thoroughly enjoyed. As the story unfolded, I found this one difficult to put down as I had thoroughly identified with solidly nice Jason, loving husband and father. Crouch has a knack of writing the familiar and everyday with conviction and colour, so that when everything suddenly upends into violence and sci fi weirdness, the reader is truly shocked. This reader was, anyway…

I very much enjoyed the characterisation of Jason and his lovely wife, whose promising artistic career was cut short by debilitating post-natal depression, which lost her openings and opportunities when she was ‘a coming talent’. I also liked the fact that nice, solid Jason also had darker depths that become all too apparent in the final stages of this thriller.

Any grizzles? Hm. Call me very, very picky – but I wasn’t absolutely happy with the ending. Having spent a fair amount of time close-up and personal with teen boys, I’m not sure the finale would work successfully under those conditions. He was the one character who, I felt, was a little sketchy and lacking in depth. That said, for most of the novel he didn’t need much fleshing out. Therefore I’ve knocked a point off, though that still makes it a five- star review – and quite right too.

Highly recommended for fans of thriller adventures who would appreciate a sci fi element in their story, along with those who generally enjoy the SFF genre.
9/10

Friday Faceoff – Gray is the queen of colors, because she makes everyone else look good… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffgreycovers #@SciFiMonth2019

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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 this week we are featuring GREY COVERS. I’ve selected Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson.

 

This edition was produced by Orbit in October 2018 – and was the cover that came to mind when I thought about this challenge. Being a simple soul, I do recall wondering why the cover was so determinedly not red, given the title. I think it is a strong simple design, unfortunately compromised by all the chatter clogging up the overall effect. For once, I really like the stark, plain title font and I think the textbox at the bottom of the page has been done well, too. A shame about that chatter…

 

Published in September 2019, this cover has taken the basic design from the previous year and has tweaked it, somewhat. The figure is offset, which I think is more effective and I also like the red font, giving a nod to the title. It also nicely stands out from the otherwise monochromatic colour palette. I prefer what they’ve done with the author font, too, given that will be the selling point of this book. Overall, the effect is cleaner and more visually appealing than the previous offering and this one is my favourite.

 

This Russian edition, published by Эксмо: fanzon in March 2019, still features an astronaut, but they have gone for a classic spacescape with Earth in the background. I like the pulse of red courtesy of the Chinese flag in the background, but I do think the title gets a bit lost for this to be really effective.

 

This Italian edition, produced by Fanucci in January 2019, is, instead, featuring that red moon. Trouble is, it is all but obscured by the dust on… the moon? That doesn’t make any sense. And neither does the fact we can’t see any stars in the background. I hate this cover for being idiotic at best and plain misleading at worst. If this was a fantasy adventure, it wouldn’t be so bad – but it’s hard sci fi. What does work for this cover is that funky title font, which I really like.

 

This German edition, published in August 2019 by Heyne Verlag, has taken another angle. This one works really well – I love the pop of red from the flag reflected in the visor. It’s a really cool design, both eye-catching and effective. The main reason this one isn’t my choice as the cover of the week, is that the title and author fonts are simply not striking enough. But it was a close-run thing. Which is your favourite?