SciFi Review 1
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Dune: House Atreides-Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

This prequel answers a lot of questions that Dune left unanswered. Things like why is there a feud between House Atreides and House Harkonnen? What are the real motives behind the Bene Gesserits? How and why did Duncan Idaho come to hate House Harkonnen so much? In this book, Paul Atreides (Muad'Dib) is not yet born and his father, Leto Atreides is just a sixteen year old heir to the House Atreides. Crown Prince Shaddam is plotting to take the throne from his father Emperor Elrood. The emperor plotting to grab a monopoly in spice so he could have power over everyone. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is making a move that will bring down House Atreides. This is an excellent book and a worthy addition to the world of Dune.

Dune: House Harkonnen-Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

This novel takes place about twenty years after the events in Dune: House Atreides. It tells the story of how some of the characters that will prove to be pivotal in Dune come to be in place. It is a book that really didn't need to be written, but since it was it filled out more characters and the story did hold together. By the end of this novel all the main characters will be in place except for one and he will be on the way. I give this novel 4.0 stars.

  

 

The Hand of Dinotopia-Alan Dean Foster

This is the second book about that fantasy land peopled by humans and intelligent dinosaurs that Alan Dean Foster has written. The first was Dinotopia Lost in which we met Will Denison. In this novel we once again meet Will Denison, who is now a Skybax pilot, desperately searching for his girlfriend Sylvia Romano who is also a Skybax pilot. Sylvia has gone looking for the Hand of Dinotopia with Will and his Protoceratops friend Chaz chasing after her. When they find her the three of them will go on an adventure that will take them across Dinotopia finding lost civilizations on a quest to find the Hand of Dinotopia which could show them a safe sea route into and out of Dinotopia. This is a good fun book and a fast read.

 

The Tenth Planet-Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Archaeologist Leo Cross has found a layer of black soot at different points around the Earth at several digs. The soot seems to have happened several times in Earth's past. While he struggles to find out the meaning and what is anything it may mean for the future of Earth, one of Earth deep space probes suddenly goes dead. It is the beginning of a very bad time for Earth. The problem I had with this book is that it reads like a TV show. On the good part it is a small book, so it is a very fast read.  I give this 3.5 stars.

 

The Tenth Planet Oblivion-Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Leo Cross is leading Earth's defense against the inhabitants of the Tenth planet. This is the second book the this trilogy and in this one Earth is going to fight back. The nations of Earth are banding together to fight. This book reads like the middle of a story, I guess because that's what it is. My advise is to read the first two together. I give this one 3.0 stars.

 

The Tenth Planet Final Assault-Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This is the final book of the trilogy and Earth once again has to fight the aliens of the tenth planet. The problem with this series is that first they divided it into three parts when it would have been better as one single novel. Two there was never any doubt of what was going to happen in this story, it read like it was a made for TV series. I give this one 3.5 stars.

 

 LoveLock-Orson Scott Card & Kathryn H. Kidd

This is a story told from the point of view of a capuchin monkey. Its name is Lovelock and it is genetically engineered to serve as a recorder for its master, Carol Jeanne. Carol Jeanne, who is one of Earth's top scientist has taken a spot on the Mayflower, an ark that is going to take some humans to another star system. Lovelock who's engineering has made him as smart if not smarter than most humans goes about recording Carol Jeanne interaction with her family and her neighbors on the Mayflower. The book is also about how he slowly discovers that he is more than just a monkey and his struggle to break free of his programming. What happens when humans meet the aliens and we have made them. Will we recognize them. I think this is a fine novel that is humorous. I give it 4.75 stars.

 

The Children's War-J. N. Stroyar

This is a alternate history book about how life would have been if Germany under Hitler had won the war. The book follows Peter, who is a slave and prisoner in Nazi Germany, some forty years or so after the war. The detail the author gets into in this book is amazing. She brings this world to life as few authors could have done. Peter's journey through out the book makes for  compelling reading. There are a few problem with this novel  For one thing, it is a very big book, it is over a thousand pages long. For her first novel that was very ambitious, but I think she could have cut it down a couple hundred pages without loosing anything. Another thing is that the main character Peter comes off as a wimp and is very annoying at times in the novel. Over all I give it a 4.75 and I recommend it.

The Heritage Trilogy: Europa Strike-Ian Douglas

Here is another guy that writes under a few different names. This novel is the third in the heritage trilogy. It has been over twenty years since the war between the United States, its allies and the United Nations.  Since then a new organization has taken its place. The Confederation of World States, lead by the United States, Russia and Japan has been examining the alien artifacts that are on the Moon, Mars and Earth. Now that an alien ship has been found in the ocean of Europa, the CWS is trying to dig out all its secrets. China after the U.N. war went through a civil war and they are now determined to get to Europa and take its secrets away from the CWS by force if the have to. I think this was the weakest of the three books. The war between China and the rest of the world seemed pointless, it just seemed to be a rehash of what went on before in the first two books, only with different combatants. The only interesting thing in this book was a further explanation of who the aliens were and why they were fighting all those millions of years ago. I give this book 3.0 stars.

 

StarSwarm-Jerry Pournelle

On the company owned planet of Purgatory, at the StarSwarm station, Kip is growing up alone. Besides his uncle Mike, his only companion is a voice in his head. One that he has kept secret from everyone. That voice belongs to a AI program and when the company comes to take over StarSwarm station, Kip will have to run. With the help Gwen, the AI program and the natives Kip will have to discover who he is, what his relationship to the company is and what's the secret that the natives are keep. This is a fast pace book and it is a good mystery as well as a good first contact novel.  Jerry Pournelle has written a very solid novel and he doesn't try to drown you with heavy facts. I give this story 4.5 stars.

 

 Atlantis: Devil's Sea-Greg Donegan

This guy sure writes a lot, he has several series going under different names. This novel is the third in his Atlantis series. The background is as follows. The same other dimensional force that destroyed Atlantis is once again trying to destroy civilization. This time the story continues in the Devil's Sea, which is a real place in the Pacific, it is a Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific. Anyway Eric Dane, the hero of the first two books, is now about to lead a group through the gate to the other dimension, while Ariana tries to find a way to stop the Shadow's current attempt to destroy humans by igniting the ring of fire. This book, while o.k. just does not hold your attention, I thought the first two were better. But the end of the book got better as you finally get to see the other side, kind off.  Maybe the next one in the series will be better. I give this 4.0 stars.

 

The Spheres of Heaven-Charles Sheffield

Humans have been quarantined in the solar system by the Stellar Group, the aliens that control the pathways to the stars. They have done this because they believe humans are too violent. But now some thing has happened to ships of the Stellar Group that have been exploring Geyser Swirl. So the members of the Stellar Group have come to the solar system to get the help of the one human they trust, Chan Dalton. Now Chan with the help of his friends must enter the unknown, free the ships there and defeat the aliens that are there all with out resorting to violence. This is not a bad book, it has a decent mystery and it was resolved in an good way. But the problem is while it is a good story and it has very few weak points, it also is easily forgotten. I give it 3.75 stars.

 

Domain-Steve Alten

When Dominique Vazquez began her internship at the South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, she did not realize the problems she would get into with her first patient. His name is Mick Gabriel and he has been in the insane asylum for a long time and he has to get out because time is running out. The year is 2012 the year the Mayan calendar  predicts civilization will end. Mick, who has been all over the world with his parents, studying the ancient monuments left by civilizations before this one. He needs to unravel the mystery left by the builders of the pyramids around Earth so he can find out what they were warning us about and how to stop it. This is a fast paced book with ancient civilizations, modern day government conspiracies, nuclear war and aliens. Through out it all the fight between good and evil is played out. If you like reading about Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt, the Americas and Asia then you will like this book. I can't wait for the next one. I give this book 5.0 stars.

 

Galactic Patrol-Edward E. Smith

This is the third book in the Lensmen series. The first two are Triplanetary and First Lensman. The series which was written in the thirties and forties for the most part, tell the story of  the Galactic Patrol and its super agents called the Lensmen. It is kind of like Star Fleet before Startrek came along. It is also the story of good vs. evil on a galactic scale. One could see the influence of this series through out the Sci-Fi world. The series is not without its problems as reading this book will show. The hero tend to be tall, strong, handsome and incorruptible. The villain tends to be evil and willing to do anything to succeed. But it is the story that gets you, a action packed space opera that pulls you in. In this book the hero is Kimball Kinnison, a young Lensman who is quickly pitted against Helmuth and the pirate forces of Boskonia. There are epic space battles and the hero is put in life threatening situations all leading to the final confrontation between the hero and the arch villain.  This series is a must read, if only to see where the Startrek, Star wars and other Sci-Fi series got their inspiration. I give this book 4.75 stars.

 

Camelot 30K-Robert L. Forward

Out on an small ice world in the ort cloud that surround the solar system, humans have found intelligent life. That ice world or frozen comet is called 1999 zx by humans, Ice by the Keracks the natives of 1999 zx. This is mainly a story about the six scientists sent to 1999 zx to study the Keracks. it is also the story of Merlene the chief wizard of the city of Camalor. This is not only a first contact story but it is also the story of the lives of the Keracks, it is also a mystery. Can the scientists and Merlene find out the secret of the Keracks before that secret destroys their city.  This is not a bad novel but at times the explaining of the physics involved tended to overshadow the story. I give it 3.75 stars.

 

Way of the Pilgrim-Gordon R. Dickson

This is a book about a conquered planet and how through the efforts of one man they were able to free themselves. The planet is Earth and the aliens that conquered it are the Aalaag. The man instrumental in helping Earth get its freedom is Shane Evert. Shane is one of the few humans that can speak the language of the Aalaag, he is one of the best at it and works for the head of the Aalaag on Earth. After watching a man get executed for trying to defend his wife, he draws a small figure on the wall next to the dead man. That small act leads to getting rid of the Aalaag. The story is very good, but it does drag a little in places. It is up to Shane to find a way of getting the Aalaag to leave without destroying earth. I give this story 4.0 stars.

 
TimeLine-Michael Crichton

ITC is a corporation that's on the cutting edge of science. Their work in the field of quantum mechanics has lead to a break through that allow them to travel through time. Professor Edward Johnson is a archeologist working on a dig in France who begins to make waves that the company can't afford. So they bring him in and show him their operation and while taking him on a sight seeing trip into the past he gets lost. Now they have enlisted the help of his top students and assistants to go back to the fourteenth century to rescue him. Michael Crichton does a good job making the theory of quantum mechanics easy for his readers to understand and the research he did to bring fourteenth century France to life was top notch. The problem I had with this book is that it began much too slow. I was almost at the half way point before it got up to speed. Also if you are not interested in having quantum theory explained to you, then you may have a hard time with this book. I give this book four stars mainly for the information Crichton puts into it.

 
The Trigger-Arthur C. Clarke and Michael Kube-McDowell

Dr. Karl Brohier, a Nobel physicist working for Terabyte Laboratories invites Dr. Jeffrey Horton to work for him. Dr. Horton's mandate is to come up with the next generation of technologies. What he and his team come up with is The Trigger, a device that makes most weapons on Earth obsolete. Now everyone from the president on down either wants to ban the device or make it available to the public. The book takes you on a trip through the changes that happen in the world because of the device. Things do not turn out as the inventors had hoped their invention is not being embraced. The book is fast paced and a good read, filled with some very good characters. The one problem I had was that it tended to get preachy in some parts, but overall a very good book.

 
Muse of Art-Piers Anthony

This is the fourth volume of Piers Anthony's Geodyssey series. This volume is made up of thirteen stories, each of which takes place in a different period of human development. His technique is to follow the progress of several characters from period to period changing the characters slightly as their circumstances change. Some of the stories are good especially the short ones and the point they are making come through clear. Unfortunately not all the stories in this volume are that good, most of the long ones are just too long and by the time you get to the end you already know the point he is making or you don't care. This series is a message series and deals with where the author thinks the human species has been, what has been learnt and what may happen to us in the future. I think that this is the weakest volume in the series so far. Too many of the stories failed to hold my interest, so I give this book three stars.

 

On The Oceans of Eternity-S. M. Stirling

This is the third volume in series in which the island of Nantucket was transported three thousand years into the past. The first two, Island in the Sea of Time and Against the Tide of Years were very good and I recommend getting those two before reading this one. This one takes place ten years after the events in the first book and two super power groups have evolved in this new world. The side lead by the islanders and the side lead by the former Coast Guard officer William Walker, who is intent on taking over this new world for himself as the King of Men. Now both sides are preparing for the final battle that will determine the direction in which this new world goes. The premise at first glance seems farfetched, but the S. M. Stirling does a good job mixing historical characters in a new way that will surprise his fans. I recommend this book and I give it four stars.

 
1632-Eric Flint

In the summer of the year 2000, the West Virginia town of Grantville and six miles of the surrounding area was sent back into the past, to the middle of Germany in the year 1632. Europe in the 1600's was a place of competing armies and Germany was their battle ground. Throw in the inquisition and you have the period that the town of Grantville landed in. Grantville is a mining town and the miners are the heroes in this book. Eric Flint has written a alternate history book that is a lot of fun to read. There are a few historical characters in it but it is mainly about the citizens of Grantville and how they adjusted to the changes around them. While it was a fun book to read, the characters are a bit one dimensional but that was made up for by the fast pace. If you want a fun fast paced but light book this is the book for you. I give it three and a half stars.

 

Through The Darkness-Harry Turtledove

This is the third in Harry Turtledove's fantasy world war series. This series takes place on a world where magic and not science or technology rules. The Algarvian juggernaut is rolling over everyone and even the few nations that have manage  to remain neutral are now in danger of being forced into the war. This is the best one of this series, the characters have filled out and their fight to survive more real. Nations have been forced into alliances that they don't really want to be in. A few nations are working of their magical version of the Manhattan project in hopes of finding a way of stopping Algarve. If you enjoyed the first two in this series, Into the Darkness and Darkness Descending, then get this one. Again my one problem with this novel was the length. I give this novel 4.6 stars. 

Colonization: Aftershocks-Harry Turtledove

In this the third book of the Colonization series. The war between Germany and the Race over Poland is over and Germany has been crushed. But not before damaging the Race badly making them reluctant to get into another war with any other of the human powers. And to make matters worst from their point of view, Japan now has the bomb. When a secret is reveled it has big consequences for the United States, but more of the U.S. long range plans come out  in this novel. Harry Turtledove is masterful in his continuing story of an alien

 
The Great War: Breakthroughs-Harry Turtledove

In this the third of the Great War series, the war is finally going turning in the USA's favor. After three years of fighting the CSA is on the ropes, not enough men and materials to defeat the USA. Since France and Britain has their own troubles so the CSA can expect no help from them this time. For the first time they will have to fight alone and they can't do it. In the USA newly elected congresswoman Hamburger is finding out that not everyone has her political beliefs and that people are willing to accept the war if winning is in sight. In Canada some have allowed anger to turn them to terrorism while others are embracing their new found status as a independent nation. This is a very good book that reveal a world whose history is almost familiar but different. He does a very good job bringing this world to life, from Canada to the Southern states to the Pacific to the Atlantic the story pulls you in. I give this four and a half stars.

 

Colonization: Down to Earth-Harry Turtledove

This continues the World War epic that began with the World War Saga. This is the second novel in the Colonization series. The premise of the series is that during WW2 a alien race came to Earth with the intention of conquering and then colonizing Earth. When they get to Earth they find out that humans have advanced faster than they realized. This book takes place in the mid 1960's. A uneasy peace has existed between the free human nations and the Race, who have conquered about half the Earth. While friends with no nation, the race is about to get into another war with The Greater German Reich that could spell disaster for all involved. This is a fascinating book that shows the growing pains that exist between the race and the humans. While it can be read as a stand alone book, you should read the rest of the series. I give this four stars.

 

 
Darkness Descending-Harry Turtledove

This is the second novel in the fantasy series that began with the novel Into The Darkness. This is a world very different from our own and it is a world in war. The Algarvians have invaded Unkerlant and most of the other nations on this world. What makes this world war unique is that this is a world where magic rules. The Algarvians are also rounding up Kaunians, who it seems are hated by most of the people on this world because of their past. What the Algarvians are doing to the Kaunians in the work camps will be the horror of the war. This book takes up where Into  The Darkness left off and while the first book was about the twists and turns of a world just getting in to a world war. This one is more about a world that is bogged down in that war. This book begins fast but slows in the middle before picking up slightly at the end. I think this book would have been a better book if it was shorter. I give this book three stars.

 
Fox on the Rhine-Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson

A very good premise. The plot to kill Hitler fail in reality, but in this book it succeeded. But the conspirators failed because Himmler was prepared. The first part of the book was very good. The political fight for Germany was riveting, with Himmler staying one step ahead of the plotters. It is in the second half that the book breaks down for me. It becomes just another world war 2 war book. Maybe if the authors had explored the changes that the successful assassination of Hitler had in the politics of the world after the war it may have been different. As it is I can only give this two and a half stars.

 
The Light of Other Days-Arthur C. Clarke. and Steven Baxter

Hiram Patterson is the head of OurWorld Corp. His company has just invented a way for faster communications using wormholes. In a attempt to keep ahead of the competition he advances that invention to be able to see anywhere at any time. Because of his invention privacy is a thing of the past. With a few more advances they can look into the past as well as spy on their neighbors anytime they want. This book explores what happen when a society has no privacy and when all that you believe in turns out to be wrong. There isn't any time travel in this book, but there is past time viewing and how that changes society. As with his latest books, this one deals with the changes technology brings on us and how we deal with it. This is a very good book and I give it four and an half stars.

 

The Complete Paratime-H. Beam Piper

In this novel are all of the Paratime stories including the classic Lord Kalvin of Otherwhen. These are among the first stories to have the concept of the time police. In each story H. Beam Piper reveals a bit more of the civilization that the Paratime police come from. Each story gets better as problems show up in the Paratime civilization showing that it is not as perfect as the first stories make it out to be. The three main characters that appear in most of the stories are Verkan Vall Special Chief's Assistant, Hadron Dalla his wife who is also his assistant and Tortha Karf the Paratime Police Chief. The problem with these stories is that the hero's tended to a little too perfect. I give this book 4.5 stars.

 
Eater-Gregory Benford

Gregory Benford is once again masterful as he combines theoretical physics with a good story. Dr Benjamin Knowlton is the man in charge of the High Energy Astrophysics Center which is based on Mauna Kea on Hawaii's big island. His wife Channing is a colleague who is dying from cancer. This is the set up when his staff makes a discovery that will change everything. A wondering black hole is about to enter the solar system, at first it just seems like a just another astronomical event but after closer study it turns out to be alive and intelligent. When is sees Earth is inhabited it comes for a closer look. Gregory Benford has mixed high energy physics, that take you into the heart of what a black hole may look like, with a story of a human species that is facing the biggest danger in its history. This is an excellent book that continue his string of great novels. I give this book four and a half stars.

 
Earth Alien-Mark Walker

This is the author's first book and there are a few first book mistakes such as being overly descriptive and the dialogue being a little stilted. Now having said that this is not a bad first book, in fact it is pretty good. The story revolves around Perry Thompson who is out with a group of friends star gazing when a cosmic storm sweeps him up and dumps him on a distant planet Denmark. The story is mostly about his life on Denmark and how different Denmark is from Earth. He finds a family and happiness on Denmark and what happens when that happiness is threatened. This is a very good first book and the story makes up for any short comings the novel may have. I give this three point seven five stars.

 
The Bridge-Janine Ellen Young

An alien species that feels the need to meet other intelligent species out in the galaxy, creates a star gate. The only problem is that for the gate to be complete someone has to build the other end of it. So they create a virus and send it out on asteroid ships out into the galaxy. When the ship meets a planet that has life it burns up in the atmosphere releasing the viruses which then settle on everything. When those viruses encounter beings with intelligence they enter them leaving the information on how to build a star gate in their brains. But when it got to Earth, something went wrong and the virus killed more than half of the human species.  The survivors have to rebuild, but some of the are also building the star gate. This is not a bad book, it has a unique first contact situation, but the problem I had with it was that it was a bit predictable. It follows the live of a few of the survivors to final contact and it ended the way I expected it to. So I can only give this novel three stars.

 

A Deepness in the Sky-Vernor Vinge

In this novel, which takes place several thousands of years in the future, the Qeng Ho is a trading group that travel all of human space. They trade between the settled humans system, picking goods and new members at each stop. The novel begins with the Qeng Ho looking for someone that they have been chasing after for hundreds of years. They finally track him to the Triland Solar system. Once there a non-human radio signal is detected coming from a star called the on-off star. The expedition is quickly equipped and sent there to make contact. Soon after they arrive at the star, a group from a previously lost human civilization called the Emergents arrive. It soon becomes clear that could be trouble between the militaristic Emergents and the Qeng Ho. Now the Qeng Ho must not only protect themselves from the Emergents, but they must also find a way to protect the Spiders, the alien species that is now sleeping until their sun turns on. This was a very good book, but it had a major problem, it was too long. A shorter book would have been better. I give it 3.75 stars.

 

Marrow-Robert Reed

This is a complex book to review. It takes place on a massive space ship that was discovered headed towards to milky way galaxy. After several species try to gain access, humans succeed. By this time humans have achieved virtual immortality through genetic engineering. The new rulers of the ship are the immortal ship captains, who are now going around the galaxy taking any species along that can pay their way. They have mapped every inch of the great ship, or so they think but the ship still hold a few secrets from them. Now one of those secrets may be the key someone will use to over throw their rule. I thought that this was a original concept the book was based on and the author did a good job with that concept. My problem with the book was the ending, which I think was a let down after the build up to the clash between those loyal to the captains and the rebels. Also the explanation as to why the ship was built seems to have been thrown in at the end. Over all it was an above average book and I give it 3.75 stars.

 
Einstein's Bridge-John Cramer

This is book that goes through many phases. It begins with the story of an alien species known as the Hive, that gains the knowledge of how to travel to other universes. They use that knowledge to invade and destroy any other species they find in that other universe. George Griffin is a scientist working for the SAC project. When the SAC is brought on line, some of its experiments alert a species in a near by universe. Now the race is on the warn the human species before the Hive can find them. They fail and the human species is about to be destroyed. It is now up to George and his friend Roger to prepare the Human species to the Hive. This book is equal part hard science, alternate history and first contact novel. John Cramer uses his knowledge of physics to write a story with cutting edge physics and quantum theory. This is a very good book and I give it 4.5 stars.

 
Manifold Time-Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter has used the latest scientific theories and obscure astronomical data to give his novel an interesting look. In a overcrowded world that has turned away from space, Reid Malenfant is determined to get the world's attention focused back on space. He feels that is the answer to many of the planet's ills. There is a lot going on in this novel from genetically engineered squid to messages from the future. This is a novel about the fight for the future, but which future is the correct one. The one in which humanity as the only intelligent species in the universe fighting to survive the eventual death of the universe or the one in which humans and Earth die in a cataclysm that also destroys the universe. This is a disaster novel with a twist. I had a few problems with this novel, the squid got an understanding of how to use technology much to quick and people seem to accept their end much to passively. I give this novel 3.5 stars.

 
Manifold Space-Stephen Baxter

This novel has the same characters as Manifold Time, but it takes place in a different universe. In this universe Reid Malenfant is much older and is a ex-astronaut who is giving lectures about colonizing the universe. He is invited to the Moon by a colleague who shows him some thing out in the asteroid belt. There are aliens out there mining the asteroids. When Reid finds their teleport transportation system out at the edge of the solar system he goes through. In his last novel the problem facing humans was the fact that they were alone. In this novel humans are not alone, the universe is filled with life. Stephen Baxter has put forward in novel another theory of life in the universe. In this universe life peaks and then is destroyed over and over on a galaxy wide scale. The Gaijin, the aliens in the asteroid belt take Reid on a trip through the galaxy and show him the wars and extinctions of life that has gripped the galaxy. Are the Gaijin just another opportunistic  bunch of aliens or are they trying to find a way break the cycle of death. I give this novel 4.5 stars.

 

The Tranquility Wars-Gentry Lee

Hunter Blake is a up and coming young genius who was just awarded the Covington Fellowship and has just gotten back with the love of his life when suddenly they are kidnapped by the pirate group Utopians. For Hunter life with the Utopians is much more full filling than he could ever imagine. It has made him aware of the political situation that is in his nation, one of the two major powers of the time. The Federation of Independent Space Colonies, which is where Hunter is from and the United Democratic Space Colonies have an uneasy peace that is threatened as both sides prepare for war. This story takes place about five hundred years in the future. It was a well written story and a easy read. It also had a better than average plot, but the most interesting part of the story was the brief history given of the political powers and their current state. I give this novel 4.0 stars.

 
Killing Time-Caleb Carr

Dr. Gideon Wolfe, a profiler and psychiatrist, is pulled into a secret world of deception when the widow of John Price, a special effects man walks into his office. The year is 2023 and she is sure that her husband was killed. She brings with her a computer disc that has on it pictures that show that President Emily Forrester assassination was not what it seems. That disc leads to the death of his best friend and his inclusion in a rogue group of scientists that are fighting a loosing battle to change the world and the attitude of the time. In a world where terrorist now have access to nukes and the new wars are fought over water and other natural resources, the group not only has to avoid the governments that are hunting them but stop a mad man that they accidentally set in motion. This book is both a mystery and science fiction, a feat pulled of by Caleb Carr. I give this 4.5 stars.

 
The Coming-Joe Haldeman

Professor Aurora Bell  have discovered a signal coming from a source one-tenth of a light-year from Earth. That source is moving, coming closer to Earth, it will get here in three months. This story takes place about fifty years in the future and it is a very different world. Crime and terrorism is rampant, old friends have become new foes. Florida is now a very different place, using virtual reality the sex industry has flourished. Add to this mix is that fact that the weather is changing. Massive blizzards cover half the nation while the other half is too hot. The story of the coming aliens take over the media and the government begin making plans to fight the aliens. This is a very fast pace story and since it is not a very big book it is a fast read. As a first contact story it is very good, it is also a very good mystery. I give it four stars.

 
Back To The Moon-Homer H. Hickam, JR.

Jack Medaris the head of MEC is on a mission to help a friend find a source of energy for his new fusion power plant. But with powerful forces fighting against him, he has to take a big and dangerous step to do so. After his enemies blew up his rocket on the pad, he takes the drastic step of hijacking the space shuttle to take it to the moon in order to get helium-3 that could power the fusion power plant. The risks are high, the U.S. government is after him and he has powerful people that is determined to kill him before he is successful in his mission. If he is successful not only will he open up space for everyone but he will also provide clean energy. This is a very good book, the author has written a fast pace action novel that takes place in the very near future. There are conspiracies from shadowy figures that are intent on taking over. I recommend this book and give it 4.0 stars.

 
Infinity Beach-Jack McDevitt

It is the third millennium and humans are now living in nine solar systems. Eight of the planets have been transformed  for human habitation. They have ships that travel through hyperspace and keep the nine worlds connected. After hundreds of years of searching and finding nothing, humans know that they are alone. Kimberly Brandywine is trying to find out what happened to her sister years ago. Her sister after going on the last search for other life returned home only to disappear along with her crew. Her search leads her to the fact that just maybe, humans are not alone. This is a first contact book along with a pretty good mystery. The major problem I had with this book is that it dragged a bit in places. It also was too long, it could have been cut by a few pages and be a better book. I give this 3.0 stars.

 

The Empire of Isher-A. E. Van Vogt

 This is actually two novels in one. I must admit that it surprised me how good it was. These are two books that were written in the 40's and 50's. They take place thousands of years in the future. The world government that has been around for over four thousand years is a monarchy that has been ruled by the Isher family. Acting as a counter balance and giving people the ability to defend themselves are the Weapon shops of Isher. This book has political intrigue, conspiracy, aliens and secret forces. Now the government of Isher and the weapon shops are locked in a secret fight that can destroy each other and destabilize civilization. One force is trying to not only prevent that from happening, but also to keep humans progressing forward. This is a fast read and as a pure sci-fi story it holds up quite well. I give it 4.5 stars.

Operation Thunder Child-Nick Pope

In the near future in England a series of radar blips lead to a confrontation between the RAF and UFO's. For the first time the UFO's are operating out in the open. As the fighting between the British and the UFO's get more deadly, the British government try to find out what they want and that answer may bring them up against certain members of the American government. This is a very good book about UFO's, abductions, conspiracies and war. Using his background in the British government Nick Pope has written a very exciting novel about the near future and what UFO's may want. The only problem I had with the book is that it turns into a bit of a military novel for a while, but over all I give it 3.5 stars.

 

Venus-Ben Bova

As is his style, Ben Bova has written a book using all the latest knowledge we have about Venus and weaved a story about going to that dangerous planet. When Martin Humphries offers ten billion dollars to anyone who can go to Venus and bring back the remains of his son Alex who crashed on Venus years ago. Venus is a very dangerous world where the pressure can crush steel and it is hot enough to  melt metal. One of the men who accept his challenge is his younger and only remaining son Van. Van has always been sickly and lives under the knowledge that his father hates him. So to him this is a chance to prove himself to his father. Ben Bova does A good job in taking a weak character and making him grow into his own person by the end of the novel. I give this book 4.0 stars.

 

Jupiter-Ben Bova

Grant Archer is a young astronomer who has planned out his life. He is happily married and is planning to use his required public service time to do his thesis on the Far side Observatory on the moon. So it came as a big surprise when he was sent to the Research Station Thomas Gold around Jupiter. Not only are they sending there, but they want him to spy on the scientists on that station. The New Morality, a religious coalition that controls the United States, does not trust scientists and want to stop anything that could threaten the belief that man is the only intelligent life. Most of the nations of the world at that time are controlled by religious groups. When Grant gets to Jupiter he realizes that the scientists there are hiding a secret. This is a very good novel and as with his last one, the character of grant starts out a little naive but grows as the story progress and makes his own decision regardless of the consequences. Again as with his other books, he takes you on a trip through  the planet, in this case Jupiter. Letting you see the forces at play on that planet. I give this 4.75 stars.

 
Krondor The Assassins-Raymond E. Feist

This is the second book in the Riftwar Legacy. In this book Prince  Arutha has just returned from the battle with Delekhan. Now that he is back in Krondor a underworld war between the Mockers and those that are working for the Crawler has begun to disrupt live in Krondor. Prince Arutha sends his best spy Squire James, formerly Jimmy the hand, out to find out what is going on. With most of his agents dead James must find out who is trying to kill a visiting future head of state before it plunges the Kingdom into another war. With evil magicians, demons and assassins after them, Arutha and James must find out the true intent behind the plot against their Kingdom. Raymond E. Feist has written a very good follow up to fantasy series that makes you want to read the next installment as soon as it get here. I give this book 4.0 stars.

 

Gust Front-John Ringo

This the second book of what is a two book series so far, takes place in the near future. The nations of Earth have united to fight a alien species called the Posleen. They will be fighting them not only for themselves but also for the Galactic Federation. The Federation have been unable to stop the Posleen, so they turned to Earth to fight for them, after all earth is in danger too. After fighting the Posleen to a standstill on two other worlds, Earth must now prepare for the invasion. Most of this book takes place on Earth as it prepares and then fights the Posleen on Earth. This is basically a war book based in the future with an alien enemy. You have to like war books to enjoy this one. While this book is good and the pace is fast, my main problem with it was the length. Parts of it tended to drag and it would have been better if it was a little shorter. But all in all I do recommend it.

Spider World: The Tower-Colin Wilson

The spider world is a series that was written back in the late 80's and early 90's. This is the first in the trilogy and has been re-released by Hampton Roads. The time is the far future and Niall and his family live hidden in the desert. This is a world ruled by insects, most of which are larger and stronger than humans. Humans are now slaves for the beetles and spiders that are the rulers. The spiders also use humans as food. Niall will soon go on a adventure that will pit him against the spider lord. The concept of humans finally having competition on Earth is a good one. I give it 4.75 stars. I recommend it.

Dykstra's War-Jeffery D. Kooistra

In the future, there are only two powers remaining. The Solar Union and The Belt. Both are about to go to war over a major mineral strike just discovered in the Jupiter system. But as the war is about to begin, hostile aliens are discovered on the outskirts of the solar system. The Solar Union turns to James Christian Dykstra, the man whose physics is behind most of the twenty-first century technology, for help is understanding the technology of the aliens. I like the fact that the hero in this novel is one hundred twenty-one years old. While this novel has a lot of action, the fact that the hero is that old means that the author had to find a way to keep the character interesting. Can both powers find a way to work together to fight the aliens and can Dykstra understand the alien technology in time to help. I recommend this book and give it 4.0 stars.

The Year the Cloud Fell-Kurt R. A. Giambastiani

In this novel Custer is still alive and he is the President of the United States. The U.S. is locked is a fight with an American Indian nation called Cheyenne Alliance. He sends his son, George Jr. in a new invention on a mission over the Alliance. It goes wrong and he ends up in Alliance hands. This is a novel that never reaches its potential. It never explained why the new world is as different as it is. It never explained why the U.S. is so different politically. The main character, George Jr. does some things that are somewhat understandable, still seems a bit drastic. The story is readable and I give it 3.5 stars.

 

Dirge-Alan Dean Foster

This is the second book in his founding of the commonwealth series. In this series he sets the stage for how the Humanx Commonwealth came about. In this novel relations between the Humans and the Thranx slow when a new species is met. Humans are stunned by how the Pitar look. When a colony is found destroyed the results will change the relationship between all three species. The problem with prequels is that the end result is known so unless something new and unexpected happens the story never lives up. While this is a readable story it is not very remarkable. I give it 3.5 stars.

The Sentinel-Arthur C. Clarke

This is another book filled with short stories from Arthur C. Clarke. The stories run from Rescue Party to The Songs of Distant Earth. They are all classic short stories, some of them you have read before. Among them are stories that evolved to become 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood's End. I recommend this book for anyone who loves short stories and for those who have never tried short stories this would be a good introduction to them. I give this book 5.0 stars.

American Empire: Blood & Iron-Harry Turtledove

This is a continuation of his great war saga. The great war is over and the U.S. and it's allies have won. This novel follows the same characters you see how their lives change now that the war is over. In the U.S. the Socialists are hoping that a new candidate will take them to power. In the south, a new political party that preaches hate is about to gain power. The novel holds you interest and while there are no big surprises in it, it is well written and you do want to find out what happens next. Will the U.S. be able to bring its new possessions into line? Will they be prepared for the next war now that the Socialists look to be gaining power. I give this novel 4.0 stars.

Revelation Space-Alastair Reynolds

This novel has a complex plot for a first time novelist. It takes place in the twenty-six Century and has many elements that converge. It begins with Dan Sylveste, who is on a distant planet trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the Amarantin, a species that died out nine hundred thousand years ago. While this is happening, on the starship Nostalgia for Infinity, the cyborg crew is bent on getting a hold of Sylveste one way or another in the hopes that he can help their sick captain. Then there are the forces that are out to kill him to stop him from finding out the secret behind the death of the Amarantin. This novel begins slow but slowly begin picking up speed as all elements of the plot begin coming together. The main problem I had was with the main character. He comes off as a person that will go after his goal no matter the cost, even when told how high the cost would be. I give this novel 3.75 stars, very good for a first novel.

Tapestry of Power-Joshua J. Marsh

It is not often that you come across a novel by a first time author that stands out in a crowded field. It is a crowded fantasy field out there so a book has got to be very good to stand out. This is a book about love, hate, faith and the loss of faith. The more you get in to the novel the more complex the characters become and that is revealed about the characters and their world. The novel begins with Orion, a warrior who has pledged his service to the Princess Mystia. As the story goes on it becomes evident that there are more to them, because powerful forces are against them. Their fate is bound to the fate of their world. All the standard elements of a good fantasy novel is there powerful magic, dragons, griffins, elves. But they are woven together by a powerful plot. My one nit pick, if you can call it one is that I would have liked to have learnt more about Princess Mystia and her family. For a people that so hated, it remains a mystery how they ended up where they did. Maybe Ms. Marsh will take that up in her next book. I give this novel 4.75 stars.

Reunion-Alan Dean Foster

This is the latest Pip and Flinx novel and it is set in his Humanx universe. This time Flinx and his companion, Pip are searching for knowledge of his past. It is a search that will take him from Earth to AAnn space. Once again he uses his erratic gift to get himself in and out of trouble. When he gets to AAnn space he finds a secret and an enemy he left behind a long time ago, who will do anything to keep that secret. As usual the story is well written and more is revealed about Flinx past. There are no real big revelations in this novel, but it is a good addition to the Flinx and Pip on going story. I give it 4.0 stars.

The Forge of God-Greg Bear

This is a end of the world novel that was written back in 1987. It is considered to be one of the classics. It begins with the disappearance of one of the moons of Jupiter and the appearances of hills in places they never existed before. With the appearance of the hills two different types of aliens are discovered that tell two different versions of what is going to happen. While the novel if about the end of Earth, most of the novel deals with the response of the authorities and the people to the fact that death is coming and there is nothing they can do about it. Very little of it deals with who is doing it and why Earth and other planets are being destroyed. I think it may have been better if the novel had a more balanced approach that answered some of those questions in more detail. I give this novel 3.75 stars.

 

First Landing-Robert Zubrin

This is Dr. Robert Zubrin's first novel. He has written two other books, The Case for Mars and Entering Space. As a first novel it is not a bad one. He uses his knowledge of current technology to send his characters to Mars in a way that can work today. As a novel about how to get to Mars and survive when we get there the novel works. But his characters are a bit one dimensional and the problems their discoveries created on Earth seemed a bit farfetched. Also the resolution of those problems happened a bit quickly. It was good to see in story form how his ideas would work. I look forward to reading his next novel. I give this 3.0 stars.

When Worlds Collide-Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer

This is considered the classic of all the end of the world novels. It was written in 1933 and had a movie made about it in 1951. The story is about a  double planet system that has entered our solar system and is headed for a collision with Earth. One of the hero's of the story is Tony Drake who is involved in the attempt to build a space ship that will allow a few people to escape to the smaller planet of the two that is approaching. While the story is a little wordy, it is a much easier read than most of the novels of the time. Also for the most part the story avoids the techno babble that a lot of the stories of that time engaged in. The story holds your attention all the way, The main flaw I found with it is that it takes a chapter or two to get going. If you are a fan of science fiction and a fan of end of the world stories, then do your self a favor and get this book. I give it 4.60 stars.

 

 

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