Genre: Science Fiction

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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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Ex-Purgatory

Ex-Purgatory

Ex-Purgatory starts you in the middle of a story already in progress with characters you should already know but who don’t seem to know themselves.  If you have read the previous volumes in this series then this book has an interesting opening that should keep you riveted.  If, like me, this is your entrance into the series then you will spend the first 30% of the book trying to figure out what the heck is going on. To be fair this clearly was not intended to be a place for new readers to pick up the series and the book makes no qualms about it.  There are really two ways you can go with a series, the stand alone approach where each book resents for new readers and each installment works unto itself or the episodic approach where each title builds on what came before it.  Clines clearly went for… Read more »

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In Retrospect

In Retrospect

Review by Travis Starnes In Retrospect is time travel story mixed with a who-dun-it style mystery set against a dystopian sci-fi backdrop.  It sounds like a strange mixture but Larson completely pulls off this interesting collogue of genres. When it comes to sci-fi, and especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic future (or in this case post-post-apocalyptic) sci-fi, the setting is what makes or breaks the book for me.  Larson did what I think works the best by creating a detailed world and just hinting at all this past information.  Similar to Tolkien’s work you can feel the history of the world the book never focuses on that far history.  You know there was some kind of apocalyptic event, that prior to that a limited form of time travel was invented and that after the event new civilizations rose to take the place of the old powers.  I would actually be interested to… Read more »

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Parasite

Parasite

Review by Travis Starnes Parasite really took me off guard.  It is the story of a future where humans have purposely made themselves hosts to a genetically modified species of Tapeworm.  Everything seems great until the parasites start getting restless, then things get interesting. I was really unsure what to make of this book.  Even after reading the back of the book I wasn’t sure if it was a mystery, sci-fi or horror story.  Turns out it is a little of all three.  Something I didn’t know going in, but I think most readers should be warned about before reading it, is this is part one of a larger story.  The book ends on a solid cliff hanger, which honestly killed me.  By the end of the book I was totally invested in what was going on and when I flipped the page and found the afterward and a “to… Read more »

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1633

1633

Another year has gone by and the residents of Grantville and the new United States are making their way in 17th century Europe.  In 1633 this new country will be reaching further into their world and continuing their conflicts with the Catholic countries that oppose them. 1633 is not only a quality sequel to its predecessors but one of the rare occasions that a sequel beats the original in some ways, although not all.  I would credit a lot of the advances this book makes to the addition of Weber partnering with Flint.  I can feel a lot of his structure and character work behind the Flint façade. As with 1632 the majority of characters are still pretty cliché.  However many of the major character, including previously minor characters who have been moved up to the big leagues, are getting fleshed out a bit more.  Raising the profile of already… Read more »

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1632

1632

I have said it before and I will say it again, Eric Flint is the most upbeat sci-fi writer I have come across.  His good guys are pure, his bad guys are evil and deserve what they get, and you can see in his writing how much joy he has in telling the story.  He is the literary equivalent of methamphetamine, of course without the life crushing physical addiction. 1632 is the first in a series about a small town in West Virginia that has been torn from its place and time and dropped into southern Germany in 1632, hence the name.  For historians this time period has meaning but it is an unusual choice because it is not one of the flashy, popular moments in history.  The story is set in the midst of the Thirty Years War where Catholic run nations were fighting against those ruled by Protestants. … Read more »

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1812: The Rivers of War

1812: The Rivers of War

Review by Travis Starnes I will start off by saying I am generally a fan of all of Flints works, he writes the happiest war stories you will find.  His writing tends to be fairly up-beat, he loves over the top characters, and he enjoys not only showing the action and drama beats of his stories but also exploring the larger political and cultural landscapes of the worlds he creates.  This last trait of Flint’s is both a blessing and a curse. Because he writes so much alternate history there are a lot of interesting points to examine however he also tends to get a bit “wander” in his writing.  Long tangents, dead end story treads, and convoluted setups that don’t really apply to the main story of the book can happen. That being said while this book is very typically Flint, although the flow and pacing is much better… Read more »

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