William Race is a professor of linguistics in New York. Without warning, he is drafted to translate an ancient manuscript detailing events during the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire. Specifically, he must assist a team of military and civilian operatives in determining the location of a mythical Incan idol. This idol holds the key […]
Pilot Ariane Austin joins the crew of the first manned ship to attempt to break the lightspeed barrier. The first “jump” takes them to a large enclosed space containing a model of the solar system. The characters are bland and too quickly introduced. They are all great at their jobs except for the one who […]
The Left Hand of Darkness is part of the Hainish Cycle, but very much as a standalone novel. Humanity is scattered among dozens of worlds. The planet Gethen, also known as Winter, was colonized by humanity many thousands of years previously. Contact was then lost and has only recently been re-established, with the Ekumen, a […]
Notorious thief Jean de Flambeur is broken out of prison by someone who wants to hire him. It is the future and everything is desperately cool with awesomely cool monikers. I didn’t get very far in this one. It is hopelessly mired in cool-sounding invented words and concepts, to the point of being almost impenetrable. Mr. […]
The crew of a gravity tug finds a bomb on board and must dispose of it with limited time. This short story does what it says on the tin and nothing more. Unfortunately.
A veteran and struggling writer receives a dream contract for a movie novelization. Soon after, a sniper rifle is delivered to his doorstep and he is blackmailed into accepting a contract to murder a still unnamed victim. He goes on the run with his girlfriend. I was sorely disappointed by this book. While it is […]
It is the nineteen-eighties and the world is on the brink of nuclear war. Various crises have combined to push the United States and the Soviet Union over the edge. It is the long dreaded nuclear holocaust. Survivors include an over-the-hill professional wrestler, a mysterious girl known as Swan, a homeless woman known as Sister […]
The idea behind this novel is simple and rather ingenious. Just after World War II, a mysterious man calling himself Mr. Inconnu plops down on Earth claiming to be from a lost human colony. He warns the US government that aliens pervade the galaxy and that if these should discover Earth in her present state, […]
This is more or less an expanded version of Path of the Fury, with what can be considered a prequel to the original added at the start of the book. This fills out elements hinted at in Path of the Fury. While Path of the Fury is a fun little book, this expanded version is […]
While The Silmarillion felt like a pretty well connected series of tales, this book is not of the same quality. It gives a lot of background to the history of Middle Earth, but only the really dedicated Tolkien fan will enjoy it.
The sequel to The City Who Fought, penned by Stirling alone, is just as mediocre as its predecessor.
This collaboration between Stirling and McCaffrey takes place in the Brain & Brawn Ship universe It is vaguely better than McCaffrey’s own efforts. The characters are more solid and there is at least some excitement. Still, I don’t feel that I can really recommend this to anyone.
This is the prequel to Cryptonomicon, although they are only vaguely related. The story focuses (as far as I can tell from the first hundred and fifty pages) on the heated debate between Newton and Leibniz on the nature of calculus. Or rather, on the notation that should be used to explain it. You don’t […]
Stephenson’s debut novel, about a gigantic and quite weird university. While the first third is mildly enjoyable, the rest of the novel devolves into an intricate mess of a plot. Written in an early version of Stephensons signature style, this book shows signs of the greatness to come for this author. Having said that, I […]
These books are both set in ancient Egypt. The descriptions are quite good and adequately set the scene for epic battles to save the nation and the royal family. While the stories themselves are pretty decent, Smith’s style can be summed up in one word: Wordcrapper! Argh! Descriptions of feelings in epic prose are all […]
This novel certainly has a very cool and well imagined setting. A hollow sphere the size of a small planet, filled with air. In the center is Candesce, a fusion powered artificial sun. Dotted around the place are lesser artificial suns. Around the suns low G human civilizations cluster for warmth, building giant wooden wheels […]
A biography of Muhammad. I should qualify that: A rather short and basic biography of Muhammad. Since I knew next to nothing of the man or the birth of Islam, this served as a good primer. Rogerson has been a guide in the Middle East for over two decades, and it shows in his writing. […]
This is one of three novels in a set that examines three possible future Californias, specifically Orange County. The Gold Coast is the dystopic one of the set. While it has some very interesting imagery, it failed to capture my interest.
This short story is about Mars “the way it once was”, with canals and Martians. An expedition with three crewmembers has landed and finds itself in the way of hordes of “Winter Troops”, a new breed of Martians that feeds off the remnants of the fallen civilization that created the canals. Told as journal entries, […]
Set in the same universe as The Prince and The Mote in God’s Eye, this is the story of a human colony planet that has regressed technology wise. It now needs to prove that it can put a ship into orbit in order to gain full membership in the Empire. Mildly entertaining, but not much […]
Novel with a lot of jumping between timelines. It has aged badly and is probably only enjoyable for the dedicated Pohl fan.
While The Mote in God’s Eye is easily one of the best Science Fiction novels of all time, this sequel is barely worth slogging through. All the epic elements are lost, the few good ideas aren’t developed properly and it is just plain boring. Shame. Note: In the United Kingdom it was released with the […]
As in so many of Niven’s later works, there is a great backstory, but the novel falls short of the mark. A large offshore colony is dabbling in genetic engineering. There is a great feeling of hope that mankind will have a bright future. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen. Not very good, but it […]
On a distant colony planet, a boy grows up wondering why the original colony ship departed many generations ago, at the same time scorching a road into the distance with its fusion drive. No knows where the road leads. The planet has a shortage of potassium and an upper class distributes what turns out to […]
Louis Wu must deal with a couple of crises on the Ringworld. This direct sequel Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers has none of the good qualities of the two first books. It is confusing, unfocused and adds nothing Known Space. Avoid it.