Book Review: “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander (Three Stars)

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Book Review: “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander

(Three Stars)

“To see it would have burst your heart, and then they would have eaten what was left of you.”

Something of a farce. Fun to the point of being silly. Like a one-line joke extended into a story.

“Glamour never worked on cats. They saw right through the Princess’s spell, recognized the kindred hunters beneath, and found pressing reasons to be elsewhere.”

2019 Short Story Hugo Award finalist. Published in Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018.

“It was a good life, sprinkled with just the right amount of companionship and just the right amount of solitude, and none of them ever regretted their choices, which was a fine way to grow old if you can manage the trick.”

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Book Review: Starseers by Lindsay Buroker (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Starseers (Fallen Empire #3) by Lindsay Buroker

(Three Stars)

“Are you reading my mind?” “Of course. Would you trust anything that comes out of your mouth?” “Perhaps not in this case, no.”

More space opera adventures of Buroker’s fighter pilot turned pacifist and herder of strays. Alisa seems a magnet for conflicting and conflicted companions and all the trouble which floats in their wake. The storytelling is fast paced and snarky.

“Did you expect something else?” “From you? I’ve come to expect inappropriate humor when it would be … inappropriate.” “I don’t always make a joke.”

Previously noted the parallels to Star Wars stories, perhaps a more apt comparison would be to Martha Wells’ murderbot stories, though in them the snarkiness and cyborgnetics are in one package.

“I won’t do anything cyborgy.” “Cyborgy? What would that look like exactly?” “I don’t know, but I assure you it’s very menacing.”

Quibble: “Her ship, which weighed thousands of pounds … was resting on a sheet of ice.” No, any kind of space freighter would weigh thousands of tons. And it just crash landed on that ice. If it was going through the ice, it would have been when velocity multiplied its mass.

“A tool is only as good or evil as the man who wields it.” “Says the man smithing a sword.”

Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

(Four Stars)

“Space invasion, a big car chase. Truth be told, I was ready to hang it up until I met you today.” Nick Fury

Lots of fun amid the cinematic mayhem. I like this Nick Fury a lot better; he’s got the best lines. By the end of the film you’re convinced this is what Samuel L. Jackson really looks like. Brie Larson, frankly, is why this rating isn’t five stars. Agent Coulson!

“Does announcing your identity on clothing help with the covert part of your job?” “Said the space soldier who was wearing a rubber suit.”

Marvel seems to do best at origin stories. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel doesn’t know who she is or what’s going on. So we ride along as she figures it out. Great ride. Along the way we find out a lot about Fury, SHIELD, and the Marvel universe.

“This war is just the beginning.” “I’m not going to fight your war. I’m going to end it.”

Unlike so many Marvel movies, not everyone is what they seem. I like discover. I like growth. This movie has lots of both. And lots of special effects.

“I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.”

Book Review: Honor’s Flight by Lindsay Buroker (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Honor’s Flight (Fallen Empire #2) by Lindsay Buroker

(Three Stars)

“This woman has the self-preservation instincts of a rock.”

More of the same following Star Nomad. Snarky humor; cartoonish characters and story. A bridge story that goes almost nowhere. A little backstory revealed. A good heart, but not much body.

“I wasn’t hollering. I was arguing defensively.”

Quibble: Lots of improbable action with even more improbably low casualties. Unlikely all that shooting between armored space military results in no fatalities.

“It’d easy to be honorable when your life is normal and your needs are met. It’s when you get desperate that your morality gets tested.”

Book Review: Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Star Nomad (Fallen Empire #1) by Lindsay Buroker

(Four Stars)

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” “I know where I left the ship six years ago.” “That’s a no, right?”

Pseudo-Star Wars post Episode Six: defeated empire, dead emperor, Jedi/Sith, battered old freighter, wise-cracking captain, guys competing for the self-sufficient woman’s attention, but better. Humor.

“You humor is–” “Inappropriate, I know.” His eyebrow twitched. “It’s how I distract myself when I’m scared for my life.”

Well-drawn cast of conflicting and conflicted characters. Everybody’s got secrets and crossed purposes. Oh, and there are pirates and flesh-eating Continue reading

Book Review: Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Death of the Necromancer (Ile-Rien #2) by Martha Wells

(Three Stars)

“And that’s what he wants us to do, so that is what must be avoided at all cost.” That’s elementary, for God’s sake.”

An Arthur Conan Doyle take on Steampunk fantasy? Thinly disguised caricatures of Doyle’s sleuthing duo appear as supporting cast in this second novel set in the Ile-Rien universe, though a century after the first installation. What if Moriarty and Holmes teamed up against an even bigger threat to peace and goodness? Darker than most of Well’s stories; I didn’t like it as much. Your mileage will vary.

“I’m sure of one thing. That ‘safe’ is not a state of being any of us are going to experience again until all this is over.”

Slow start as Wells builds her characters and setting, but everything then accelerates. Continue reading

Book Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

(Three Stars)

“If you got any more noticed, I think they’d have you arrested.”

Ripping good space opera. Lots of action and self-depreciating humor.

“I saw no reason to give him the whole truth. Whole truths usually just made things worse, anyway. I avoided them whenever I could.”

Marred by loose, wordy syntax. (The preceding quotes could lose several words.) Tighter is brighter.

“‘Gate’ implies something you go through, but a hyperspace gate is nothing but a space-station-sized supercomputer capable of quickly and accurately doing the computations needed for safe jumps.”

Better-than-average explanation of how jumps work in her universe. Better than Continue reading

Book Review: Element of Fire by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Element of Fire (Ile-Rien #1) by Martha Wells

(Four Stars)

“I have no regrets, except perhaps my choice of allies.” “And your choice of enemies?”

This freshman work shows elements of Martha Wells’ future style. Not quite four stars, but Wells gets extra credit because this was her first novel. Wells has turned the Ile-Rien stories into a franchise, presumably the subsequent ones are more polished.

“We’re going to be roasted. And eaten.” “Quit sniveling.”

Foreshadows the snarky humor which makes Continue reading

Book Review: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

(Three Stars)

“All the true things I’m about to tell you are shameless lies.”

Hardly science fiction, except for the MacGuffin: Ice-Nine. Humorous.

“What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?” “Guilty as charged.”

Enjoyable interleaved stories of an improbably group of people saving or destroying the world. Vonnegut’s economical, cynical prose entertains and pushes for reflection. It worked better fifty years ago when it was fresh.

“Busy, busy, busy.”

Book Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci

(Three Stars)

“He allotted himself a quick second to jam his claw against the control panel and silence all alerts. He knew he was in deep trouble, again; he didn’t need a soundtrack.”

Fun. Popcorn for the SF reader.

“And what are you going to do?” she scoffed. “What I always do,” Cade sighed. “Something stupid.”

If imitation is the most sincere form of flatter, Lucas Films, Marvel, DreamWorks–not to mention J. R. R. Tolkien, should be very flattered. In fact, their legal departments may consider when imitation crosses over into plagiarism. Not so. The plot, characters, and even some of the action and dialogue were cribbed from Stars Wars, et al., but Continue reading