Genre: Science Fiction

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Emerge

Emerge

Emerge is a fairly standard young adult novel that hits all the boxes on the YA checklist.  Thankfully it does so competently and with a plot that is interesting.  You have Allie, the girl who is different but even she doesn’t know how different.  Read, hidden special powers.  The guy she meets that accepts her for who she is, and turns out to be special to.  A secrete destiny waiting to be discovered. Formulaic however does not equal bad.  Allie is a completely likable character and has an emotional depth which is refreshing to see.  Her relationship with Aiden is believable and well done. In a genre where relationships are all to often one dimensional or unbelievable, I was happy to see Craven knew how to avoid these pitfalls. The backstory is also well done.  There was a lot thought put into the backstory of the world and while yes,… Read more »

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Ex-Heroes

Ex-Heroes

Ex-Heroes is an interesting mashup of two very different book sub-genre’s, super-hero action and the zombie apocalypse.  What is even more surprising than the mashup even existing is that it actually works. It seems the difficulty level of this is pretty high, but Clines pulls it off. The story is set after the apocalypse has already happened, so naturally Cline has to spend a lot of time in flashback explaining what happened.  Thankfully this doesn’t break up the pacing and works in the narrative fairly well.  Most of the books I have read that relied on flashbacks for exposition it did hurt the pacing, so the fact that this book still flows well is a credit to the writer. I found the use of heroes particularly interesting in Ex-Heroes.  First is the fact that, even with all their superpowers, they were unable to stop the apocalypse from happening.  Superheroes in… Read more »

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Star Trek Enterprise: By the Book

Star Trek Enterprise: By the Book

By the Book is the first paperback spinning out of Star Trek: Enterprise, if you don’t count Broken Bow, which was simple a novelization of the 2 part show opener.  Which I don’t.  I have to say I was surprised by this book.  It is far from the best Star Trek title I have read, but it does have one on the most unique angles I have seen so far. The book is split into two parts; the first part is a first contact with an alien species that goes sideways.  The second, and seemingly more important part to the authors, is a role playing game played between five of the crewman that in minor ways affect the first contact plotline. I have to applaud the authors for trying this.  It is a really fresh take on a Star Trek novel.  By the time this book came out there were… Read more »

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Train to Nowhere

Train to Nowhere

Train to Nowhere is set in a dystopian future where people are divided into classes and live completely separate from each other.  In this future world strict population controls are in place and illegal children, those children that were born outside of the new rules of the society, are placed on the trains known as Orphan Trains.  The story follows one of these orphans named Garland, as he strains to see the bigger world outside the train. This book has a lot of good things going for it.  First and foremost are the characters, who are well designed and relatable.  You can’t help but feel for Garland as he fights between the desire to leave the train and wanting to be with his friends.  Or be nervous for him when he finally manages to get into the larger world.  The reader is also given a counter in the form of… Read more »

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The Eugenics War Vol. 2 – The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh

The Eugenics War Vol. 2 – The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh

The Eugenics War 2 follows the events surrounding Khan’s ascent to power and his clashes with Gary Seven and company.  While this book is a pretty good read and gives a lot of backstory for the Star Trek universe it doesn’t quite hold up to the promise laid down in the first part of the series. The big thing that works for this book is Khan himself and the relationship between Khan and Seven.  Cox does an admirable job in translating the Montobon version of Khan into book form and then working that back into a younger version of the man for the early parts of the book.  The growth of the relationship between Khan and Seven and their estrangement was also really well done.  You can feel the tension between the two men and the pull of their past friendship.  Overall the entire cast of characters, down to some… Read more »

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Three Princes

Three Princes

Imagine a world where the Egyptian civilization never fell; a world where the Pharos still maintained power and a legacy going back generation.  That sounds like a pretty good premise for a book, right?  I thought so too.  Unfortunately while Three Princes has that awesome setup and gets the feel of the world right the actual story just doesn’t hold up. This is a book I really wanted to like.  I love Egyptian history and the Egyptian “style” so the idea of bringing that forward into modern times really intrigued me.  And that is the big thing this book gets right. Add to that the fact that in the story the Incans also remain and are the Egyptians main adversary and I am totally on board.  Ramona Wheeler is very good at describing the world in such a way that you can almost feel it.  While the alternate history lover… Read more »

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The Martian

The Martian

This is the obvious analogy, but The Martian by Andy Weir is Robin Caruso in space, on steroids and jacked up on laughing gas.  This book sits in a weird place between straight fiction and science fiction.  Or rather it is science fiction but much closer to the science end then fiction end. This book doesn’t follow the standard narrative structure, and that really works for it.  Three fourths of the story is told through journal entries by the protagonist because, with the exception of a few portions of the book, he has no contacts with anyone else.  Most of the story happens through Watney’s inner monologue which sounds like a bad thing but really works.   When the story does switch to other characters and a more normal story structure all I wanted was for it to get back to Watney and his journal. The character of Mark Watney is… Read more »

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A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea

A Darkling Sea is an interesting sci-fi novel about first contact, misunderstandings and events spiraling out of control.  I read a lot of sci-fi but a novel that is essentially focused on first contact and the repercussions of that contact is a premise I have not seen very many times. This book is really well paced in the front half and kicks into gear early on with the death and dissection of a major character only a handful of pages into the book.  While it isn’t the rip-roaring ride you would get from a thriller this book moves fairly quickly for a thoughtful work of sci-fi.  That pacing does have some issues in the second half however as the story bogs down and the end feels a little rushed as Cambias works to put all the pieces together and wrap everything up. The idea behind the pitfalls that could come… Read more »

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Red Rising

Red Rising

Red Rising is the story of a dystopian future and a lie that has been perpetuated against workers on Mars.  For those who love a good sci-fi novel set in a less then idyllic future this book really aims to hit all the points you would want. The plot itself is very well done.  The overall setup with multiple castes and the inherent tension that causes and a huge secret that could rock the very foundation of their society is well thought out.  That premise alone offers a lot of possibilities and on top of it a Brown does a good job living up to a lot of those possibilities.   This is further supported with excellent and well thought out world building, which helps give the rest of the story pretty solid bedrock. Unfortunately, while the story is good the pacing is only ok. It tends to drag in sections,… Read more »

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The Eugenics War Vol. 1 – The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh

The Eugenics War Vol. 1 – The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh

This book takes a look at how the most iconic villain in Star Trek, Khan Noonien Singh, came to be.  The first in what eventually became a three part series The Eugenics War Vol 1: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Sing specifically focus on how Singh and his genetically engineered siblings came to be. Cox manages to really blend classic Star Trek lore with real historical events and his own added dramatizations and changes to create a pretty compelling story.  While the book itself is sandwich between a fairly banal story about Kirk visiting a planet known for practicing genetic modifications that really is more of a way to offer framework.  The real meat of the book that takes a look at Trek history is really engaging. One of the problems the Trek universe is events dreamed up in the 60s TV show clash with how history really… Read more »

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