Book Review: Dragon and Slave by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Slave (Dragonback #3) by Timothy Zahn

(Three Stars)

“They were slaves, and she was a slave, and the only place to hide from that reality was inside herself.”

I liked it; it’s a good read but the series is becoming formulaic. (See previous reviews here and here for the good news.)

“He wasn’t going off the deep end of the pool like some junior K’da warrior. All he was doing was paying back a debt. He probably would have felt better if he’d believed that.”

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Book Review: Dragon and Soldier by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Soldier (Dragonback #2) by Timothy Zahn

(Three Stars)

“You’re innocent until they absolutely prove otherwise. And for ten minutes after that, too.”

Good story, consistent with the high tone set in the series opener, Dragon and Thief. Jack makes bone-headed decisions typical of a fourteen year old. Zahn, having saved the reader the apparently-mandatory Hogwarts school experience in the first tale, lays it on us now.

“You know, Darycos, for being such a clever poet-warrior, you’re kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.”

(Sorry I don’t have more quotes: read the ebook version on a trip. Highlighted quotable sentences, but my cell phone has done the u-boat routine since.)

Book Review: Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Thief (Dragonback #1) by Timothy Zahn

(Four Stars)

“Jack muttered a word that had once cost him a week of desserts.”

Entertaining science fiction for young readers that harks back to the early days of SF, before we got all cynical and crude. Not that our fourteen-year-old protagonist isn’t a cynic, but that’s part of the fun. Thinking smarter you know everything at that age is such a burden, and a delight to those around you.

“It is interesting, is it not, that people so often turn out to be different than we expect.” “Don’t fool yourself, kiddo.”

Lots of typos which appeared to be OCR scanning errors. Someone at Open Road flunked proofreading. Still, we appreciate their making these books available.

(Ship named Essenay? Pig Latin (Es-See-Nay) for Nessie, perhaps, as in Loch Ness’ Nessie?)

Book Review: Rogue Protocols by Martha Wells (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Rogue Protocols (Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“The only smart way out of this was to kill all of them. I was going to have to take the dumb way out.”

Wells hits another home run. She hones the voice and character of her snarky rogue security unit, the titular murderbot. This plot is convoluted enough that any comments risks being a spoiler, so I won’t. Love the cover art.

“… and your SecUnit prayed for the sweet relief of a massive accidental explosive decompression, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.”

The stories are standalones but there is a background story arch which makes more sense if the stories are read in order.

“Or Miki was a bot who had never Continue reading

Book Review: The Road Ahead by Hali C. Broncucia (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Road Ahead by Hali C. Broncucia

(Three Stars)

This is weird. I liked this story: a contemporary post-apocalyptic female hero’s journey. Good premise; engaging protagonist. I started this review intending to give it four stars, but as I wrote I realized it made no impression on me.

Normally I record quotes as I read, to give readers of my reviews a sense of the writing style of the author. I got to the end of The Road and discovered I’d written nothing. Broncucia writes well; her writing just didn’t move me. In fact, I paused several times while reading it, uncertain whether I wanted to finish it.

Loses one star for the obviously-driven-by-sequel-concerns afterword tacked on the end. It was hokey and added nothing to this story.

Other than that, a good first novel.

Book Review: “Loss of Signal” by S. B. Divya (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “Loss of Signal” by S. B. Divya

(Five Stars)

“If someone offers you a chance to cheat death, the sane response is to accept it, right? Maybe not.”

Nice. Very short: very focused; very powerful. Hard science fiction, but even firmer grasp on the emotions of being alone, unarmed, and … scared to death. Find it on tor.com. Enjoy.

“The moon loomed, familiar and white, filling most of my view as I rotated toward it: my cratered dream; my harsh mistress. The blanched horizon terrified me.”

Nice artwork by Jun Cen, though the phase of the moon and the earth don’t match as they should.

“You act out the scenes in your head, and you’re always the hero.”

 

Book Review: “The Martian Obelisk” by Ellen Datlow (Five Stars)

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Book Review: “The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata

(Five Stars)

“You have to do everything you can, until you can’t do anymore.”

Amazing story. Like legacy science fiction, addresses the issues of today with clear-eyed reality. Excellent storytelling. Sparse, just-right character development. We learn about Susannah and Nate through their actions.

“We assume we can see forward to tomorrow, but we can’t. We can’t ever really know what’s to come—and we can’t know what we might do, until we try.”

A welcome antidote to the nihilistic gloom or mindless fantasy that pervades modern SFF. Looks reality in the eye, but doesn’t blink.

“This all looks like hope.”

(2018 Hugo Award Short Story finalist)

 

Book Review: Pawn’s Gambit by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Pawn’s Gambit: and Other Stratagems by Timothy Zahn

(Three Stars)

“Physical reality is never obligated to correspond with our theories and constructs.”

An adequate collection of short science fiction. Quality decreases deeper into the book, however the last tale, the eponymous “Pawn’s Gambit,” is the best of the bunch.

“You risked your life to try to save people whose music you don’t even like.” “People are people, no matter what their tastes are.”

Quibble: No one would fly the two hundred miles from Frankfurt to Stuttgart. Train or car would be faster.

“Not paranoid, you understand, just cautious.”

Book Review: Provenance by Ann Leckie (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Provenance by Ann Leckie

(Four Stars)

“A hatchling that thinks only of its our survival makes an untrustworthy adult.”

Leckie hasn’t lost her touch with engaging characters and plot, but she seems to have lost her way in a jungle of obscure personal pronouns (after demonstrating she could navigate that jungle in previous works) and gratuitous, pasted-on romances.

“To know your past is to know who you are.”

Set in the same galaxy as The Ancillary novels, Provenance explores life in minor republics outside the grasp of the Radch. Leckie’s development of vestiges as a cultural artifact is genius. (In another age, it might have Continue reading

Book Review: Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Raven Strategem (The Machineries of Empire #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

(Three Stars)

“I would like to think that it’s possibly to construct a society where our orders don’t involve slaughtering our own people.”

Another masterful space opera set in the universe of the hexarchate featuring the four-hundred-year-old revenant of Shous Jedao. Readers unfamiliar with the hexarchate would profit by reading Ninefox Gambit first, however Strategem fills background as needed as the story develops.

“Immortality didn’t turn you into a monster. It merely showed what kind of monster you already were.” “Would it be such an evil thing to learn?”

Strategem features a Byzantine web of factions and players alternately attacking and defending each other. Corruption and betrayal are Continue reading