Book Review: All These Worlds by Dennis E. Taylor (Four Stars)

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Book Review: All These Worlds (Bobiverse #3) by Dennis E. Taylor

Four Stars

“Can we go back to being pondscum? Life was so much easier.”

An ambitious project, well done. A satisfying end to the series. None too soon, as the story degenerated toward being a soap opera rather than a space opera. The android bodies, multiple threads, and repetition distracted.

“Don’t make the common mistake of thinking your opponent stupid just because they don’t see things your way.”

The narrative point of view changed often, but Taylor clearly identifies whom, where, and when we are. I still had to take notes to keep things straight

“Who wants to do their whole life doing chores?”

Taylor melds the optimistic and pessimistic views of space exploration. We will find folks who need our help, who want to compete with us, and who will eat us. Be careful Continue reading

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Book Review: For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor (Three Stars)

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Book Review: For We Are Many (Bobiverse #2) by Dennis E. Taylor

Three Stars

“War … we did reluctantly and only be necessity. Exploration, well … that was fun.”

Gorilloids, rapters and robotic ants, oh, my! Taylor’s world building and storytelling are perhaps even better than the first volume. Multiplicity of Bobs and threads is dizzying. Instant communication not hand-waved. Many pop cultural references.

“Immortality had sounded like a great idea, back on earth, but there were costs, especially when you become attached to ephemerals.”

Quibble: Losing 35 cows negligibly impacts feeding 15 million. Much better take on the logistics of population support, travel, communication and armament than most space operas.

“Colonizing an alien planet, as with everything else, was more complicated than TVs and movies let on.”

However, despite him dedicating this book to me–well, to “all the people who love a good old-fashioned space opera”–he lost a star because the story didn’t end. It just stopped. “End Book 2” He could have/should have done better.

“That’s why God invented backups.”

Book Review: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor (Four Stars)

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Book Review: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor

Four Stars

“They wanted me dead. It seemed to me that the Golden Rule applied. Time to reciprocate.”

Ripping good space opera/apocalypse tale. Lots of fun action as well as reflections about what/who we are. Heavy handed on stereotyping, but “Stereotypes are good first order approximations.”

“The backup was a digital attempt to save an analog phenomena.” (of a digital attempt to replicate an analog phenomena)

Engaging storytelling. Multi-threads, excellent Continue reading

Movie Review: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: The Last Jedi (Star Wars Episode VIII), directed by Rian Johnson

Five Stars

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.”

These days I go to Stars Wars movies with trepidation. You see, I saw the first (later called Episode IV) in 1977, the first week it opened. I’ve seen each one since. Some were stinkers. The Last Jedi was not. In fact, it’s one of the best of the lot.

“Everything you just said was wrong.”

There’s hardly anything I can say that won’t be a spoiler. Except there’s lots of reversals and unexpected. Leavened with a bit of humor.

“Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.”

I went in with one big expectation, and they nailed it in the most satisfying way. Not for everyone, but lots of fun.

“I want every gun we have to fire on that man. Do it.”

Book Review: Dauntless by Jack Campbell (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dauntless (Lost Fleet #1) by Jack Campbell

Three Stars

“For the first time, he wondered if missing the last century had actually been a blessing.”

Good space opera. Protagonist back from a hundred year sleep must save the day. Realistic naval idioms for ship movement, engagement and culture.

“You just didn’t ask whether or not marines would follow orders.”

The protagonist is the reader’s “everyman” in the advanced technology and changed culture of his future. Plenty of adversaries, both friendly and decidedly not, to give the story depth and provide fodder for this and half a dozen follow-on tales.

“If the AI isn’t smart enough to employ a weapon all by itself, you can’t trust it very much in battle. If that AI is smart enough … Continue reading

Book Review: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn

Four Stars

“Is this what Chiss do? See a trap, and just walk into it?”

Good science fiction–albeit a space opera–not just good Star Wars fiction. The reader need not have any previous exposure to Star Wars nor Thrawn to enjoy this origins tale in which Zahn skillfully weaves the many threads of existing stories into a fresh, original story.

“There’s no trust in politics. Never has been. Never will be.”

Thrawn is there in all his glory, but he is also limited and occasionally tone deaf, so he’s less superhuman.

“All Eli could see in his face was that maddening confidence of his.”

The two primary threads interweave convincingly. Bad people see themselves as serving a greater good, just a good people are often blind to their own faults. Good Holmes-Watson interchanges. Understanding an opponent through his art is Continue reading

Book Review: Galactic Bounty by William C. Dietz (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Galactic Bounty (Sam McCade #1) by William C. Dietz

Three Stars

“Now the stars no longer seemed mysterious. Just beautiful points of light, none of which were home.”

A product of its times (first published in 1986) can be seen in both the portrayal of women, though Dietz did better than many contemporaries, and the cigars. Today such a work would be boycotted, if not banned. Did I much the cigars?

“Somehow it seemed important to finish what he’d started.”

It’s space opera. Not much socially redeeming quality; more popcorn for the brain. Better than average. (Except for the cigars.)

“The wise man trades words before blows.”

Book Review: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1) by Yoon Ha Lee

Three Stars

“Her instructor was full of shit. There was no comfort to be extracted from the dead, from flesh evaporated from bones.”

Slow start. Dumps you right into this universe with little preparation and less explanation. Apparently not a translation, but awkward reading at times as you figure out calendarials, sentient servitors, and exotics amid not-quite-American syntax. A space opera with all the tech, jargon, language and blood that implies.

“Immortality was like sex: it made idiots of otherwise rational people.”

What is the meaning of suicide and mass murder–or even immortality–in a culture which does not value life? From context you discover that the actors are not Continue reading

Book Review: Conqueror’s Pride by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

Book Review: Conqueror’s Pride (Conqueror’s Saga #1) by Timothy Zahn

Three Stars

“When lives are at stake, you do what you have to, whether it’s personally comfortable for you or not.”

Typical Cold War-era space opera. Independently-minded heroes take on bumbling bureaucracy as well as the heinous enemy. Standard space opera opening: new alien obliterates friendly human greeters.

“No empire looks oppressive to those in power.”

Well conceived (first published in 1994) and well written. The technology and science aged well: despite being written before the advent of smart phones, tablets, and the internet. Not great literature, not even great science fiction, but a good read.

“We don’t always create the wars. But whether we do or not, we always win them. Tell your Elders that.”

Trivia: The Conqueror’s Sagas immediately preceded Zahn’s enormously popular Admiral Thrawn Star Wars books.

“It’s that ‘supposed to be’ that I worry about.”

Book Review: Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers Three Stars

Book Review: Behind the Throne (Indranan Wars #1) by K. B. Wagers

Three Stars

“I could have come home. My whole life could have been different.” “We all live with such a burden.”

Well-written science fiction adventure that rises above mere space opera by Wager’s fully conceived and presented non-Earth Hindu female-dominated culture. The narrative follows the protagonist closely, so the reader is dragged along with the rapid pace of the action, but the cultural, religious and technical details are melded in expertly.

“Practically everyone is hiding something … including you.”

Quibble: Bodies in space do not implode.

“Now I was finding out that my timing was as [bad] as my judgment.”

Telegraphed many of her punches. While the protagonist was kept off balance by the rapidly evolving action, she picked up on everything and everyone too quickly, robbing the story of uncertainty. It’d have been nice if she’d been wrong about someone.

“Concentrate on what you know. The rest will sort itself out, or it’ll kill you.”

Satisfying close for this opening episode in a greater story.

“We don’t get to say everything that needs saying before the end.”