Book Review: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie

(Four Stars)

“In the end it’s only ever been one step, and then the next.”

Satisfying close to the trilogy. In fact, some readers may simply wish to read books 1 and 3. Little is missed by skipping 2; a lot of swimming in place.

“You really have gotten better, but you can still be an enormously self-involved jerk.”

Leckie develops her characters well. Despite most of the story being told through the point of view of one character, readers have no trouble identifying much of the supporting cast.

“You don’t need to know the odds. You need to know how to do the thing you’re trying to do. And then you need to do it.”

Not surprising that Leckie returns to the Rasch universe in later books, but so far no word of the Provisional Republic of the Two Systems.

“There is always more after the ending.”

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Book Review: Vanguard by Jack Campbell (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Vanguard (Genesis Fleet #1) by Jack Campbell

(Four Stars)

“[We thought] we’d all get along, and everyone else would leave us alone because it’s such a big universe.” “Did they ask anybody who actually lives in this universe whether that made sense?”

Best space opera I’ve read in years because it’s more than that genre implies. Team of Sullenbergers space opera, but so much more. I would like to have their luck.

“In a universe run by humans, drills over time often become self-licking ice cream cones that justify whatever purpose those in charge of the drills are looking for.”

Ignore the military stories written by non-veterans. Campbell has been there and done that. It shows. The military heritage is more than Continue reading

Book Review: Discovery of the Saiph (Saiph #1) by Pp Corcoran (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Discovery of the Saiph (Saiph #1) by P.P. Corcoran

(Four Stars)

“Your overriding priority is not the discovery of new life; it is the preservation of life on Earth. If, for whatever reason, something does not seem right to you, Captain, you turn tail and head for home.”

Excellent hard science fiction. A not-too-implausible future of mankind discovering we’re not alone and someone else would like to be alone–even if it requires annihilating everyone else. Despite covering an expanse of time and territory, Corcoran develops the personalities of key players to give them depth, even if it is stereotypical.

“The logistics behind establishing a colony are massive, never mind the expense.”

Lots of contacts with previously unknown peoples. Disappointing that first being-to-being contact always occurs Continue reading

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.”

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: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

(Four Stars)

“You can’t be responsible for every survivor of Alderaan, Leia told herself. It was worse than being the Alliance’s shining symbol and figurehead.”

The best Star Wars book I’ve read in years. Leia gets a story to show what she’s made of, and it’s quite a bit. True believers may argue whether this story is Expanded Universe or Legends or canonical. IMHO, it fits the canon well enough to make the discussion moot; read and enjoy.

“See, this is the part where you yell at me and prove with, I don’t know, brilliant logic or secret information, how of course we can trust them and I go away embarrassed but reassured.” Leia smiled wryly at her. “I wish.”

Set two years after Star Wars Episode Four (movie). Leia seems to have matured fast, and her relationship with Han more developed. Oh, it’s going where we know it will go, but it seems to already be there.

“Knowing too much about Han and Chewbacca’s non-Alliance-related businesses, past and present, just made her left eyelid twitch.”

Quibbles: “Terae stepped forward and pulled a fusioncutter out of her tool satchel.” Beyond imagining what a fusioncutter is, we’re told it’s pocket sized. “The asteroid riddles with tunnels that followed the paths of what must have been veins of various ores.” Most small asteroids are amalgams of material, not layers.

“When your decisions affected people’s lives, it was important to have the advice of someone who didn’t think you were always right because of who you were. Or who your father was.”

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: 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: A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson (Three Stars)

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Book Review: A Soldier’s Duty (Theirs is Not to Reason Why #1) by Jean Johnson

(Three Stars)

“… is to place his or her skills, weapons, body and life between all that can harm and all that could be harmed.”

A space opera centered on a superhuman heavy-world half-breed of a super race. Think: all the Avengers in one body, and she’s a Jedi who sees the future. And most of the book she’s still a teen. Good fun, if you ignore the blood and guts, but too easy.

“You are a pawn, little half-child. You are a Game piece we have set in motion.” “Sometimes the pieces direct where the players must play.”

Her prescience is acknowledged to be fuzzy many times, yet she manipulates the actions of others as if she has precise knowledge of Continue reading

Movie Review: Solo, directed by Ron Howard (Four Stars)

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Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Movie, directed by Ron Howard

(Four Stars)

“I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

A worthy expansion of the Star Wars movie library. Not bad by itself. All the more amazing as director Ron Howard took the reins eleven months ago, and is reputed to have reshot significantly portions. As a story it works. Oh, yeah, it’s an action-oriented space opera, what do you expect? The Empire looms in the background, the Force is never alluded to (thought there is …), but there’s no doubt it is a Star Wars story.

“I heard a story about you. I was wondering if it’s true.” “Everything you’ve heard about me is true.”

Like Rogue One, Solo plows a new furrow. It connects to the main SW sequence in significant ways, but it’s its own story. Satisfying ending with plenty of hooks to potential follow on movies.

“Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.”