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

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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

Book Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“You need to make better threats.” “I don’t make threats, and I’m just telling you what I’m going to do.”

Love the voice! For having no emotions, he’s so funny.

“Being asked to stay, with a please and an option for refusal, hit me almost as hard as a human asking for my opinion and actually listening to me.”

He’s not a murderous rogue robot; he’s a security unit who has hacked his control module. Self-controlled. An augmented human, human-killing machine construct, a cyborg perhaps. But not a murderbot. Just as comfort units are not Continue reading

Book Review: “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker (Two Stars)

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Book Review: “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker

(Two Stars)

(This review contains numerous spoilers.)

“Who discovers how to access infinite realities and then uses that discovery to invite her alternate selves to a convention?”

Great concept. How do you investigate a murder when the victim and all the suspects are the same person? Wanted to like it better. The point of view is one of the more pedestrian iterations of Sarah (yes, the author uses herself as the main character/almost-entire cast), but fails to grip the reader with the inner turmoil she describes as happening. Too focused on philosophizing and preaching.

“Divergence points were the key to everything.”

Figured out who-dun-it half way through, but find the explanation unsatisfying, though Pinsker provided several twists trying to make it suspenseful.

“We all built the future with our choices every day, never knowing which ones mattered.”

(2018 Hugo Award novella finalist.)

Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Rafferty (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Rafferty

(Four Stars)

“Having a second clone is highly illegal, right?” “Well, so is murder, but that doesn’t stop people.”

Thought-provoking science fiction about trust, murder, and what it means to be human. Rafferty dumps the cast and reader right into the first crisis–blood and bodies floating everywhere who-knows-how-far from earth on a colonization ship with hundreds of sleeping humans and a brain-dead AI. What else could go wrong? Plenty.

“The greatest gift a creature can give another is that of sacrifice. Clones can’t sacrifice.”

Classic locked-room murder mystery; almost everyone has motive and means. Then the lights go out. Despite a diverse crew, all shared Continue reading