Tag Archives: scifi

Courageous (The Lost Fleet, Book 3) – Jack Campbell

Deplorable practices adopted during the last century were repeatedly declared necessary if regrettable in order to win the war. Oddly enough, we’ve yet to win. You’d think somebody would have asked before this why the regrettable but necessary measures haven’t actually produced the promised results.

The star saga continue with the third book in the series, where Captain Jack Geary continues to lead the Alliance fleet in enemy space, trying to avoid the Syndics and get enough supplies to be able to combat.

Geary is avoiding enemy fleets, even if that means getting away of the Alliance-controlled space. However, that can’t last forever and  Geary has to fight some bloody battles. Those battles have real and impacting causalities, which makes the story credible.

Trying to outsmart the enemy, when an unexpected twist appears.

The protagonist is not a super-hero, with genious flair and incredible luck, but a leader with doubts, trying to make choices with the best information available.

The relations with Madam Co-President Victoria Rione and Captain Tanya Desjani of his flagship are subject to other people judgement, good or bad. But this does not distract from the main story, which is again full of space battles and military space tactics.

In this part, a new twist is added to the story, which makes it even more interesting, building on cues from the previous books.

This is a good book on its own, a relaxing and engaging read that I recommend for the fans of the genre.

Fearless (The Lost Fleet, Book 2) – Jack Campbell

The longstanding thorn in your side Captain Numos is stupid. In fact, Numos is so dense that I’m surprised he doesn’t have his own event horizon.

The second book of the series continued the adventures of Captain Jack “Black Jack” Geary in his quest to save the Alliance fleet from the enemy in Syndic space.  This time around, Captain Geary has to deal with unexpected mutiny as well, having to fight internal and external enemies at once.

Military scifi book, for the fans of the genre.

The protagonist is now better defined, Captain Geary having to work on the politics of his own fleet, as well as dealing with the continuing enemy pursuit. The story universe is given more depth and there is even more action than in the first book. However, the book manages to keep the main story straight and introduces some very unexpected twists, on several levels.

The second book is at least as better as the first one, with a bit more creative narrative and better described space battles. The effort put in imagining scientifically coherent space battles is impressive.

There is little psychological monologue and soul-searching, which makes the book uncomplicated and easy to read. For military scifi fans, it is a quite rewarding read.

Koban – Stephen W. Bennett

His octet was to be limited to the same weapons these humans were given. A very detailed video of the compound’s terrain was furnished. This he shared with his octet, because every Krall had an inborn ability to memorize such details for a mission. Repetition was unnecessary.

Koban is a very imaginative and action-packed military survival sci-fi. The story revolves around Captain Mirikami, who is transporting in a passenger spaceship scientists to a far colony, when he is attacked by an unknown and far more advanced alien species. Captain Mirikami and all on board is then isolated on a dangerous planet, Koban, where he has to prove to alien war race that humanity deserve to be treated as worthy opponents.

The author creates an entire universe with this book, with a new planet and a new alien species. The Krall are very advanced military, highly physical, destroyed or enslaving every other intelligent species they met so far. They use those wars to enhance their military abilities. Humans are considered weak and very low technologically speaking, but they are still put to trial. If they succeed, aliens plan to destroy humans gradually, rather then in a one big stroke, hence the struggle of Captain Mirikami.

Scifi survival story

Stephen Bennett creates a future where genetic warfare  almost killed the entire male population and changed ways of society. The men are subservient to women and the first part of the book is full with sexist situations. After the genetic war. humanity is not fighting internally nor meeting any other intelligent species in 300 years.

The narrative is captivating, some chapters are looking at events through the eyes of predators on Koban, some others through the Krall aliens. It makes the story a lot more interesting.The book has some fantastic ideas, but with others it went overboard. The sexism is interesting, but not adding to the story. The genetic enhancement done in days leave too many logical holes.

Nonetheless, it is a solid scifi survival book, imaginative, well paced, action-packed and entertaining.

Dauntless (The Lost Fleet, Book 1) by Jack Campbell

Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke

Man was, therefore, still a prisoner on his own planet. It was much fairer, but a much smaller, planet than it had been a century before. When the Overlords abolished war and hunger and disease, they had also abolished adventure.

Childhood’s End is a good scifi from the accomplished author Arthur C Clarke. It starts with a sudden arrival of some aliens, just after the second world war. They bring peace and prosperity, but never disclose their reason to come to Earth. The book ends somewhat surprisingly, into a kind of transcendence for humankind.

childhoods-end
Quality scifi writing

Although written in 1953, the book keeps pace with current development and innovations, which shows the, what proved to be correct, vision of the author for the future.

The plot has several twists, a couple of stories being intermingled, but the narrative is kept straight and easy to follow. The anchor of the book are the aliens and the slow progress towards the inevitable end. It reminded me of the more recent series of Harry Turtledove (Colonization – also on this website).

The book is an easy read and imaginative enough to be an entertaining scifi almost 70 years after writing.

While I enjoyed reading the book, I think it could have explored more the excellent plot lines developed. A solid reading overall.

[Featured picture by ITU Pictures]

Center of Gravity (Star Carrier, Book 2) – Ian Douglas

In the evolution of every sentient race, there is a turning point when the species achieves transcendence through technology. The warlike Sh’daar are determined that this monumental milestone will never be achieved by the creatures known as human. On the far side of known human space, the Marines are under siege, battling the relentless servant races of the Sh’daar aggressor. With a task force stripped to the bone and the Terran Confederation of States racked by dissent, rogue Admiral Alexander Koenig must make the momentous decision that will seal his fate and the fate of humankind. A strong defensive posture is futile, so Koenig will seize the initiative and turn the gargantuan Star Carrier “America” toward the unknown. For the element of surprise is the only hope of stalling the Sh’daar assault on Earth’s solar system-and the war for humankind’s survival must be taken directly to the enemy.

Center of Gravity is the second book of Ian Douglas in the Star Carrier series. The story revolves around the struggle of humanity to battle technologically superior races of allies, in distant future. The main protagonists are Commander Koenig, admiral of a human fleet, and Trevor Grey, pilot on one of the ships from Koenig’s command group.
center-of-gravity
Battles around the stars

Koenig allows the reader to see things at the strategic level, why the fleet retreats or attacks and the overall plan. Grey’s narrative level is more emotional and tactical, about simple people and how the war affects them.

The main ship of Koenig’s command group is kind of a spaceship carrier, where Grey’s spaceship is allotted to, hence the name of the series,  Star Carrier.
Humans battle an alien species called Sh’daar which fight through various other alien species under their control. In the first book, the aliens attacked Earth and humans barely succeeded to repulse the attack, through the efforts of Grey and Koenig.
In the second book, humans strike back, The pace is fast and the star battles and the ship to ship action are dynamic and engaging. While not as innovative in new technologies and ideas as the first book, the story still reads well. Overall, it is a good piece of military scifi.
Link to Book 1 review.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.

This is a book with one of the most creative, nerd scifi narratives, exploring the possibilities of virtual reality in a dystopian close future world.

The book follows the story of Wade Watts, a normal teenager fully immersed in a virtual reality called OASIS (a kind of Sims), while the world is slowly decaying around him, economically and politically.

The creator of the OASIS, a multi-billionaire nerd, leaves  his entire fortune and ownership of the programme for the player who manages to pass his in-game trials. Obsessed by the 1980s culture, all trials are related to those years, with music, gaming and movie references. Hence, a 1980s renaissance takes place, billions of players being after this prize, an escape from the dying world around them. The protagonist is one of those seekers.

player-one-book
The seller of illusions

A rival company pours monumental resources with the same purpose of getting the prize and the ownership of this virtual reality. This company slowly develops as the antagonist of the story.

Five years have passed since the creator died and no progress was noticed on the scoreboard towards the prize, a scoreboard available for everyone to see. Until the Wade’s avatar makes the first breakthrough.

The story gradually gains pace. mingled with love, friendship, courage, real life tragedies and perseverance. It is a story that transforms the teenager into a man. It is a kind of a Harry Potter in a dystopian future, but without family references.

The virtual reality, OASIS, looks like a drug, people giving their life and freedom for a world where they can be anything they want to be. The real world is slowly decaying around them, civil duty (like voting) is neglected, allowing some form of slavery to exist. However, the message of the author is that the virtual reality cannot replace the real world: things like a kiss, a touch are unique and cannot to be replicated.

The book is catchy for everyone who played a computer game in their life, so I recommend it as a good reading. I couldn’t put the book down.

(Featured image by Andreas Dantz)