In Our Books
THE HALF-MADE WORLD By Felix Gilman (2010 - Tor Books)
Acclaimed author Felix Gilman’s The Half Made World
between the cracks of three different genres, though it
gloriously to all three.
Traveling west, across the mountains
that border the civilized East, there is a war-torn frontier, and west of that, the world is still being created (hence the title). The war on the frontier is between demons: The Engines, who have taken the form of trains, and through industrial technology enslave all who come into contact with The Line, and the Guns, who empower their servants with near invincible power, but accomplish only mayhem. One character explains in the book,
“We summoned the Engines through our fears, and the Guns through our spite.” The last general of the Red Republic
- the last non-demon nation in the West, learned a secret of how to fight the demons, but was injured and driven mad in the Red Republic’s last battle. The novel chronicles the quest of various characters to save or exploit or exterminate him. Liv Alverhuysen, doctor of the new science of psychology, leaves the comfort of the east to try to heal the general’s mind. John Creedmore, Agent of the Gun, seeks to steal his secret, or make certain it dies with him. Sub Inviligator Lowry, one of many minions of the line, marches relentlessly to ensure the dear general never speaks a sensible word again. This quest will take all of them across the war-torn frontier and out into Uncreation, where things are still being formed, and the natives - exploited as slaves in the West - still hold all the secrets. You can’t judge this book by genre.
It is fantasy without the nonsense, and steampunk without the cliché’s and very little of the punk. And the gamers will all start scheming about how to work an Agent of the Gun into their next RPG. My only complaint is that the ending was more of a prologue into a sequel.
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I’ll forgive that sin - I want to read more anyway.
-- Reviewed by Tony Padegimas
SINGULARITY STAR CARRIER, BOOK 3
by Ian Douglas Publisher: Harper Voyager
Price: $7.99 (paperback) $7.99 (Kindle)
Singularity is the third novel of the Star Carrier Trilogy. Ian Douglas has written three previous trilogies with similar themes: The Heritage Trilogy, Legacy Trilogy and Inheritance Trilogy.
Most treaders give the author high marks for all twelve books, but some felt that there was too much repetition in plots and descriptive writing in the later books. For example, in this novel and in an earlier novel, a surprise attack through a star gate by the massed forces of a Terran Space Navy and Marine task force saves the Earth from destruction. Saying this is not a spoiler. Certainly, the reader knows this before buying the book. But that does not mean that the Earth escapes all damage in the alien attacks. Read all three books of Star Carrier to find out. For me, the similarity in plot structure
is but a minor quibble. I will reveal my bias right now: I love this author and I love reading his military science fiction. And I enjoyed each and every one of the twelve novels immensely. As a retired US Army officer, I did not even mind the glowing references to the futuristic version of the US Marine Corps. Saving the Earth from malevolent aliens trying to wipe out new civilizations because of a Hunters of the Dawn xenophobic ideology is a full-time job. May there always be a Space Navy and Marine Corps ready to defend us! And saving the Earth from the stupidities of control-freak politicians is even more important. I have worked at the Pentagon and in the Washington, DC, area and I can bear witness to many offenses against both common sense and my sense of justice at the highest political and military levels. To those readers unfamiliar with such political foibles, please let me recommend all of Douglas’ books as well as Keith
Laumer’s hilarious Retief stories. From a technical point of view, the descriptions of future technologies are superbly well done. They are believable and might even work in the future when we get serious about travel into deep space. Especially convincing are Douglas’ star drives and star ships: Shaped like kilometers-long mushrooms, the star carriers carry huge amounts of water (radiation shielding, reaction mass and drinking water) in the crown of the mushroom. Below, protected by the shielding of the mushroom cap, are the star drives, space fighter bays, weapons emplacements and personnel compartments. This is an elegant and practical solution to a difficult technical problem in starship design. The star drive projects a pseudo- singularity ahead of the ship. The enourmous mass of the singularity produces a variable gravitational pull which accelerates the vessel as quickly as is desired up to hundreds of g’s for the starship and thousands of g’s for the space fighters. For those unfamiliar with US NAVY aircraft carrier jargon and acronyms, CAG remains Commander Air Group, CAP becomes CSP (Combat Space Patrol), PBP (Particle Beam Projector), KK (Kinetic Kill rounds for a rail gun), and CIC remains Combat Information Center.
Highly Recommended! -- Reviewed by Felix Polz
FRACTURED TIME BOOK 1 of the Fractured Time Series By Michael D’Ambrosio $14.95, 286 pp.
In Fractured Time, Billy Brock is inadvertently drawn into a war of wizards and minions when stolen
technology goes awry, stranding him with others on a hostile, alien world with both prehistoric and mythical creatures. His presence destines him to destroy the conspirators of the war, an alien witch (Diomedes) and an evil wizard (Ruger), thus making him the target of their demonic armies and the local wildlife. He and his new friends fight to survive against their enemies through creative tactics and daring antics while searching for their niche in the new world. Fractured Time is an odyssey in time
and space travel wrapped in emotional subplots. From the beginning, Billy’s life is in shambles starting with his fiancée leaving him at the altar. He believes his boss has hired a female
engineer, Penny, to replace him. On top of that, Penny is assigned to join him on the fateful business trip. Things get interesting when Billy
learns that the creatures are hunting him at the bidding of a wizard named Ruger. He uses escapism as a tactic when things don’t go well, particularly when it comes to women. He emerges as the unlikely leader among his friends as a result of this. The story concludes when Billy completes a daring escape after pitting gryphons and wolfen against each other and finally establishing peace in their new realm. I found the selection of creatures entertaining as well as pivotal to the main plot. Billy, while no MacGyver, is creative in finding ways to outwit Ruger and his armies. Billy’s ongoing problems with females add a flavor of humor to the story as the other characters seem to savor his misery in this department. The author’s blend of fantasy and romance with science fiction and horror makes this a fun read with a tempo that never slows down. As I followed Billy Brock’s odyssey, it was difficult to put the book down until I was done. The adventures kept flowing and I needed to know what happens. While the story ends with a degree of equilibrium restored to the characters lives, I am compelled to get a copy of Twisted Fate and find out what happens next. Do they get back to their world? Does Billy and Penny’s relationship ever “mature”? And what of Ruger and Diomedes? I can’t wait. Fractured Time is a must read for anyone who wants to “escape” from reality for a thrilling adventure. -- Reviewed by JC McDaniel, ConQuest (Kansas City)
THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS by Ramsey Campbell (Tor Paperback, $15.99, 364pp, Release Date: August 30, 2011)
Ramsay Campbell writes soft, inexorable horror: there is an inevitability to the story as it unfurls, and at the end everyone has been affected by the darkness they sought to contain, or escape. Goodmanswood has survived, encroached upon by expanding suburbs and roadways, for untold ages, and for decades the Price family and their allies has guarded its
and monitored its behavior. The woods are sentient, imbued with purpose and
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