Reviews :: Book Genre :: Science Fiction

Review

Tiamat’s Wrath

Posted: March 21, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Tiamat’s Wrath

When I received the eARC of this book, it came with a request that reviews not go up more than two weeks before the publication date. The book is slated to be released on March 26th, and so this review is absolutely within that deadline. I was curious though as to how many people listened to the request of the publisher, and so I went searching for any sign of preemptive book reviews. And you know what I found? Pages up with “reviews” from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I’m not going to link them because I’m kind of perturbed by both of them right now. Not only did they post their “reviews” better than two months early, but their “reviews” consist of what amounts to a book-cover blurb and two sentences of something that might be vaguely interpreted as a “review”. Honestly? This is what EBR has to compete against in the SEO world? I can’t say that I’ve ever actually read a review from either of those sites before, and now I doubt that I ever will again.

But no worries. The actual book is absolutely smashing fantabulous! Here we go!
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Dead Moon

Dead Moon

So, despite what Goodreads might seem to imply, this isn’t the third book in any kind of connected series. It’s a single novel that may or may not be the first in a series, and that might be in the same loosely bound universe as other books that the author has written. But that’s about it. I spent the entirety of my time listening to this one believing that this was the third book in a series and wondering what story might have been told in the first two books. It’s not written like the follow-on to any kind of other story.

Now I guess I know better than to blithely accept the information I’m given on Goodreads.

This is also another one of those books that doesn’t look like it’s going to get a dead-tree release any time soon, if at all. <<sideways glance>> I just don’t get that. Part of the book market, I guess, that doesn’t include me. Still, I was more than happy to give the thing a listen, as I had a hole in my audiobook schedule.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

All Systems Red

Posted: February 7, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Martha Wells, Science Fiction, Short Fiction
All Systems Red

Last week in my interview with S.K. Dunstall (see it here), they mentioned loving Martha Wells’ Murderbot stories. With such high praise from an author-duo I enjoy, how could I resist?

I’ve been missing out. Murderbot is totally worth reading.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Zero G

Posted: January 31, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Like Meta: Dan Wells, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Audible
Zero G

I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. Last ones I got to were probably the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (Amazon), which are brilliant good fun, especially when they’re read aloud. I was trying to remember what books I was reading around that age and realized that at 11 I was pretty deep into the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (Amazon), thanks to my good friend Scot. It might be because of this, that I don’t remember reading an awful lot of funny, goofy, adventure romps like this one. There’s a part of me that thinks I might have missed out, but another that can’t help but remember how much I enjoyed reading back in those days. So I can’t have missed out on too much, can I?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Stars Uncharted

Posted: January 29, 2019 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: S.K. Dunstall, Space Opera
Stars Uncharted

Nika Rik Terri is known as one of the best body modders (as in she modifies human bodies with her machines) in the galaxy. But even those famous for their abilities can make dumb decisions: like, say, hook up with a man who becomes an abusive boyfriend. She makes a business deal with his boss so her ex-boyfriend will leave the planet and harass other people instead. Unfortunately she ends up on the run anyway after her ex’s “co-worker” threatens Nika’s life.

Josune was recently hired as assistant engineer on the spaceship The Road to the Goberling, but she’s there to spy for her boss, the captain of the Hassim, who wants to learn something only Captain Roystan will know. But when the Hassim arrives suddenly out of nullspace with company men on board (think pirate mentality but with corporate backing) and the original crew dead, Josune suddenly finds herself in a predicament.

But neither woman is without resources or smarts, and they must use all their wits to come out of this alive.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Avengers of the Moon

Posted: January 24, 2019 by Jane Funk in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Allen Steele, Science Fiction
Avengers of the Moon

Sherlock. Queer Eye. Sabrina. An endless parade of Spider-Men (is ‘parade’ the right collective noun for spiders? Update: the internet informs me it might more correctly be called a ‘cluster of Spider-Men’).

Anyways.

Reboots are everywhere and Allen Steele’s AVENGERS OF THE MOON is one of them, a reboot of a classic, pulpy sci-fi series called Captain Future. I’m going to date myself by saying it was WELL before my time and that I’ve never read the previous series; regardless, I think the reboot criteria are clear:

A reboot should stand on its own.

A reboot should make characters and story arcs more accessible to modern audiences by updating the piece’s sensibilities.

A reboot should retain some of the essential qualities that made the work popular in the first place.

So does Steele deliver?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Shadow Captain

Posted: January 15, 2019 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Shadow Captain

It’s always an interesting ride, I think, when an author that typically writes for readers within a particular age range ventures outside their normal boundaries. Age ranges being groups like Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, blah, blah, blah. In this, I’m thinking Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea (EBR Archive) or Rowling’s Casual Vacancy are decent examples of this jump in readership. Sometimes they work; other times, not so much. I’ve never tried any of Rowling’s non-Potter books, but of the three YA books that Abercrombie gave us, I thought the first and third not quite as good as what I was used to getting from him, but the second, in my estimation, was possibly the best book he’s ever written. And while Revenger wasn’t necessarily my favorite book from Mr. Reynolds, and I’d likely be more interested in getting another in the Prefect Dreyfus series, I was still super excited to get another anything from him, as he’s easily one of my favorite science fiction authors these days.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Skyward

Skyward

Spensa has always dreamed of being a pilot. When she was a child her father was a pilot for the DDF, the military force that protects the planet Detritus from alien Krell incursions. But one fateful day during a defining battle against the Krell, her father ran from the battle, died, and was labeled a coward. As a result, Spensa and her mother and grandmother live on the fringes of society. But now that Spensa has come of age, she can test for pilot training and prove to everyone that cowardice doesn’t run in the family.

But the DDF doesn’t make it easy for her.Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Final Six

Posted: December 20, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Don't Like Meta: Alexandra Monir, Science Fiction, Young Adult
The Final Six

It’s the end of the world as we know it. The effects of global warming are claiming city after city and millions of lives have been lost. Nope, it’s not the front page of the newspaper. It’s the plot of THE FINAL SIX (Amazon) by Alexandra Monir.

Looking to escape an increasingly devastated earth, the international community selects Europa as a site for future colonization. And who better to colonize a distant moon and save humanity than six teenagers?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Record of a Spaceborn Few

Posted: December 6, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Becky Chambers, Science Fiction
Record of a Spaceborn Few

Science fiction is not known for being gentle. Technical? Yes. Explosive? Often. Operatic? You betcha.

RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW eschews explosions in favor of internal drama. Like the rest of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers Series, this quiet story explores what it means to be a part of a family, a crew, a community, a species–this time through the fate of the Exodan fleet. Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Consuming Fire

Posted: November 29, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
The Consuming Fire

Tell you what, the more I read of this guy’s stuff, the more I like him. Still haven’t gotten to the Old Man’s War books, but the LOCK IN series (EBR Archive) has been really good, and this one is also shaping up to be some serious goodness. When I got this one in the mail, I failed to realize though that we had already reviewed the first book, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE (EBR Review, thanks be to Shawn), so I tackled that one first. Was awesome. In fact, I think I liked that one considerably more than he did. Likely would have read it anyways, as I have issues with reading middle-series books without first reading those that have come before. This can sometimes cause headaches for my EBR TBR pile, but as Popeye would say, “I yam what I yam.” I was also extremely happy to find that this book absolutely doesn’t fall into anything like second-book syndrome and was oodles of good fun.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Artemis

Posted: November 16, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Andy Weir, Science Fiction
Artemis

I never took the opportunity to read The Martian. Saw the movie, tried to pick up the audio book once but it was a bad CD copy, and I just never got back to trying again. Recently, one of our illustrious fans requested that we read and review Weir’s next book, Artemis. Oddly enough, I also had to wrangle with a bad CD copy of an audiobook for this one (I love my library, but yeesh this seems to happen a lot) but I set my rocket scientist mind to the problem and figured out how to get it to work. And here we are. Interested in what we thought of it? I figured you might be.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Off Armageddon Reef

Posted: October 25, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: David Weber, Science Fiction
Off Armageddon Reef

So, we don’t normally do reviews for books that were written so long ago (first published in 2007). Especially for books that weren’t just awesome-sauce fantastic. In fact, we generally frown on writing reviews for books this old as a general rule, unless they’re considered a “Classic”. There are a few extenuating circumstances, however, that made just such a review feel justified in my mind. One: this is the first book in an ongoing series that has not yet been completed. Two, the next book in the series (#10: THROUGH FIERY TRIALS — Amazon) has a release date of January 2019. So, at least the series is current. Three, I’ve come across several references in my time from individuals that like this series very much. And there are soon going to be ten books in the series. So, this whole situation got me to thinking. If someone were to see the release of this newest book, and then decide that it sounded like something worth checking out, and then went on to find this, the first book in the series: how would their experience be?

And giving opinions on this exact situation just happens to be our specialty here at EBR. So I dove in, hoping for some goodness.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Fated Sky

Posted: October 16, 2018 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Mary Robinette Kowal, Science Fiction
The Fated Sky

In THE CALCULATING STARS you got to know Elma York, the brilliant mathematician who becomes one of the first lady astronauts on an Earth that must take to the stars to survive.

Now it looks like she’ll be one of the first women to Mars.Read the rest of this review »

Review

Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

When I mentioned to my husband that I was reviewing the NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE 2018 he asked: isn’t the fact that all of these pieces were nominated for an award a review in and of itself?
It’s not a bad question. But I think the answer is only: sort of? Anthologies are are hard. Even anthologies where the stories have all been previously vetted can feel bloated or uneven. In fact, I haven’t picked up an anthology in long time for these two reasons–the last few I read felt like a lot of panning and sifting for very little gold. So even with the words “Nebula Awards Showcase” emblazoned across the front I was skeptical.
And I was wrong. This anthology is full of strong pieces, both short stories and novelettes, as well as (unfortunately, but probably inevitably) excerpted novellas. Jane Yolen, who was the editor of this anthology, faced a tough job but I felt like the pieces she included from the awards spoke to the breadth and depth of the field. She arranged the […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Iron Dragoons

Posted: September 20, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Richard Fox, Science Fiction
Iron Dragoons

Military Science Fiction is a sub-genre that I don’t very often find myself reading. Not that I don’t like it, or even that I think I might not like it, but I just haven’t read much of it. Kind of the same way that I don’t very often find myself singing while riding the city bus. Not that the other patrons on the bus might not like my warbling voice or that I might not enjoy such an experience… I just don’t do it all that much. So this was a bit of a departure for me, but I got a copy of the ebook for free from the author on Facebook, if I remember correctly. Trying to drum up some business and get his name out there, I’d gather, and two cheers for him, I say! I think that more beginning authors should be giving a decent smattering of their stuff away for free. Take note, newbie authors. Especially those that are self-published. Just make sure that what you’re floating in front of people’s noses for FREE is also awesome-sauce, […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Ball Lightning

Posted: September 11, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Cixin Liu, Science Fiction
Ball Lightning

You’re probably going to do this anyways, so instead of leaving halfway through the review I’ll suggest now that you type ‘ball lightning’ into Youtube/Wikipedia and get it out of your system.

Pretty weird, huh?

Alright, back to the review.

If Cixin Liu’s name sounded familiar to you a few years ago, it might have been because you were following the speculative fiction scene in China, where Liu has won multiple Galaxy and Xingyun Awards (equivalent to winning multiple Hugos and Nebulas, respectively).

If Liu’s name sounds familiar to you now, it’s probably because he was the first Chinese author to win a Hugo award for his novel THE THREE BODY PROBLEM, the first book in The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Signal

Posted: September 7, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Tony Peak, Science Fiction, Audible
Signal

A couple weeks ago, a public relations specialist from Audible contacted us about possible interest in reviewing a new book slated for immediate release. Publishers contact us quite frequently to review their books, but this was the first one that I could remember coming directly from Audible. The book was Science Fiction, so naturally I picked it up. What with me loving Science Fiction and all. 🙂 My first surprise of many came when I found out that this book wasn’t going to get any kind of print version. Meaning no physical book and likely not even an ebook. This understanding gave me the immediate feeling of a very tiny dagger stabbing me in the heart. How could someone do that to a story? Especially if it’s a good one. I mean, doesn’t everyone love the feel and the smell of the paper? The heft of the bound pages? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good audio book (Simon Vance is a voice-talent god). I listen to them quite often actually, so I felt fairly qualified to give Signal a go. Thus, I dove in.

And that’s when I got my second surprise.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Moons of Barsk

Posted: September 5, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books that are Mediocre Meta: Lawrence M. Schoen, Science Fiction
The Moons of Barsk

BARSK: THE ELEPHANTS’ GRAVEYARD (EBR Review) was such a pleasant surprise that I can’t help but smile every time I think about the experience of reading that book. And feel bad, of course, because it took so long to finally make its way to the top of my reading queue. It was fun and engaging and intelligent without feeling like it was pandering in any way. So, when I saw that there was going to be a sequel… I determined that I was going to do right by it. To mention nothing of the fact that I was actually quite excited to hear that we’d be getting more from the world of Barsk. In fact, I can still feel that excitement in the slightest bit, even on this side of my reading experience.

Which is somewhat interesting, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been quite so disappointed with a sequel.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Calculating Stars

Posted: August 7, 2018 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Mary Robinette Kowal, Science Fiction
The Calculating Stars

Did you read Mary Robinette Kowal’s 2014 Hugo-winning novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”? If not, you can read it here on the Tor.com website, or for time’s sake my reaction to it at the bottom of this EBR Review post. In short, it was the obvious standout winner. The main character, Elma, is a 60-something former pilot/astronaut who must make the ultimate sacrifice. But after reading that, one wonders, how did history change to make it possible for 1950s Earth to colonize Mars?

Wonder no more!
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Apocalypse Nyx

Posted: July 31, 2018 by Allan Bishop in Books We Like Meta: Kameron Hurley, Science Fiction
Apocalypse Nyx

Strange is good; in fact, strange is what makes Fantasy and Science-Fiction so wonderfully memorable. Neither genre need always be grounded in absolute realism; but, as Fantasy and Science Fiction fans expect, worlds must adhere to their own internal logic.

In an alternate future, far from Earth, there is a planet. It is a planet where eternal war rages. Its rationale? Forgotten. Its objectives? Pointless. It is on this world, where Islamic-influenced matriarchal societies dominate the planet, we encounter a particular soul.

She is a bel dame, she is a killer, and she has the heart of a venomous eel. Her name is Nyx, once a government assassin, now a rundown mercenary, a black dog.

And so begins APOCALYPSE NYX, a series of interconnected novellas surrounding Nyx, her team, and several contracts of… well, non-importance.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Carbide Tipped Pens

Carbide Tipped Pens

Hard Science Fiction, huh? Sounds cerebral, nerdy, probably unsentimental, maybe a bit dry… but could be good. Or really boring. I have had good fortune reading and reviewing anthologies so far for EBR. (Let the streak continue!)

My sincerest apologies to the publishers of this mostly excellent anthology. This is possibly the most beat-up paperback I have ever carried around and carried around and…which I cannot explain because I enjoyed it very much. There was one story that stopped me cold, though so, in good conscience, I could not write this review until I had read every SINGLE word. That wasn’t easy.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Freeze Frame Revolution

Posted: July 17, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Love Meta: Peter Watts, Science Fiction
Freeze Frame Revolution

Author Peter Watts’ newest offering, FREEZE FRAME REVOLUTION exists somewhere in the squishy space between a novella and a novel (according to the ‘Afterword’ it’s 1,000 words over the length of a standard novella, but who’s counting?). Watts is of the opinion that he has written a novella and I think that the story he tells is well-served at this length, which allows him to explore a single incident in-depth and with a focus that wouldn’t be well-served by irksome sub-plots or other novel-length narrative features.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

Writers of the Future, Volume 34

I find it somewhat unsettling how quickly I tend to look past the art associated with this annual anthology. Well, if I’m being truthful, I tend to naturally look past most of what is offered in these anthologies other than the stories from the winners. Because it’s those stories that most have the chance of speaking to my soul, as an aspiring author myself. And yet, this time around, I’ve made it a goal to give special attention to those “extras”. After all, it’s the winners of the “Illustrators of the Future” that will be penning the future covers that will catch my attention enough to get me to pick up books and give the first handful of written pages a chance at catching my mind afire. As well, it is the extra writings–the essays and sometimes stories from the judges of the contest–that represent what they admire and enjoy in fiction. There is indeed much more to this anthology than just a simple collection of stories by a bunch of newbie, but not always unskilled, writers of fantastical fiction.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Head On

Posted: June 5, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
Head On

The first time I ever read a story by John Scalzi was a short of his about something to do with an alien, but I don’t remember the details. He was selling it for whatever you wanted to pay for it, but hoped that you would pay more than a buck because, ya know, it cost him a solid buck per sale to run the transaction through Paypal. Even before I’d read his story, and the dude already had me laughing. I remember enjoying that one quite a bit, but some of his others I haven’t been too enamored with. I still haven’t read his Old Man’s War series, although there have been several times when I’ve been tempted to pick them up. After reading this one, I think I might just have to do that.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Killing Is My Business

Killing Is My Business

The line between an homage and a pastiche is as thin as a sheet of New England lake ice. At times refreshing when done right, but often as bitter as an old flame’s sudden departure, the Noir genre has for decades fascinated, riveted, and influenced literature, both pulps and classics alike. When I caught wind of a fusion of a hard-boiled mystery staged in an alternate 1960s LA, still as iconic as it was in the days of yesteryear, I had to crack it open over a bottle of ten-year-old stale gin for a compulsive reason. Why I have gin in my rickety desk is only my business, but I was feeling pretty cozy with this little spine opener of a yarn.

But it didn’t have that pop you’d expect from a Coke. It was more like a flat Coke. Sure, it’s got the feel, the look, and even the shape of a Coke, but it don’t have the taste of it. You can feel it in your gullet. Something just ain’t right about this one. But that’s ok. Not every tale’s got to be a real sob story, a mournful heartbreaker, or make your gray matter noggin do some joggin and thinking real hard about all the bad stuff that goes on in life. So it goes.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

American Elsewhere

American Elsewhere

So, we put this book on our “Best of” back in 2013 without posting a review for it. I know. Naughty us. I thought it was about time that we rectify the problem. Plus, it gave me another chance to read a Robert Jackson Bennett book. 🙂 After reading his Divine Cities series, I made a point of putting his name on my go-to list of authors to constantly check in on. Interesting story that’s actually on topic: I was having dinner with a few friends back in February. Brian McClellan (of Powder Mage fame) was part of the group and talking about how he was helping beta read Robert Jackson Bennett’s most recent work in progress. Nearly lost my stuffing. Can you say jealous? Whoa. Anyhow, I found this story on my audio book app, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Provenance

Posted: May 10, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Ann Leckie, Science Fiction
Provenance

Ann Leckie’s PROVENANCE (Amazon) is not a space opera. While the scope is broad, covering an uneasy interstellar treaty and the implications of a society obsessed with origins and authenticity, the real focus is on Ingray Aughskold, a foster child from a public crèche, acutely aware that in her mother’s eyes, she has always lacked “a certain something” (423). PROVENANCE plays out on an intimate scale, the coming-of-age story of a woman who should have come into her own years ago.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Tomorrow’s Kin

Posted: April 26, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Don't Like Meta: Nancy Kress, Science Fiction
Tomorrow’s Kin

A while ago, I had a dearth of books sitting on my shelf for which I was foaming at the mouth to read. Several times I walked by the stacks and asked myself which of those various offerings I would dive into next. After several attempts, I just started grabbing books at random, and decided to choose the one that I thought had the best potential based on the first two pages of story. This is usually about all it takes for me to decide whether I’m going to be able to like a book or not. Like there’s a base-minimum amount of goodness that my inner reader is willing to accept, and after about two pages I can just tell. After parsing through a dozen or so of the possibilities, I whittled my choices down to this single book. It was even science fiction, which is always a good thing in my opinion because I feel like I need to read more science fiction. Problem is, I need to read science fiction that’s better than this.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Altered Carbon

Altered Carbon

As with my previous review, the decision to finally read this novel came as a result of consuming media outside of the book realm. Prior to now, I hadn’t picked this book up because of the complete underwhelming Richard K. Morgan had given me in previous books. Granted, most of his stuff that I’d read was in the fantasy genre. Although I have also read THIRTEEN, but that didn’t really ruffle my feathers either. Still, the trailer for the series that Netflix recently did just looked AMAZING. Grabbed me and would not let go. And wouldn’t you know it, about that same time the book came up in my audiobook queue at the library as available and I just couldn’t help myself. Turns out, I probably should have listened to myself and/or watched the show instead.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Dune

Posted: March 23, 2018 by Allan Bishop in Elitist Classics Meta: Frank Herbert, Space Opera
Dune

A timeless classic is a term that should be uttered rarely. Timeless implies you could pick it up today, read it in ten years, and still come away with a new perspective, a new rage at a book that challenges you politically, socially, and spiritually. DUNE, the grandfather of modern science-fantasy, in my opinion, of course, is the black sheep of the pulp Science Fiction family that ran away from a raygun shooting, fish bowl shaped, space helmet wearing universe of tomorrow. Instead, it is a morality play in line with Shakespeare, a political examination of tyranny, prophecy, good intentions, and how a tiny, insignificant planet holds the real-politik resource to create or destroy galactic dynasties with a simple drop of an atomic bomb. Even if its vision of the future is a wrong-way mirror compared to the projections of today, it cannot be overstated how vital, how genre-changing it was to the language, the imagery, and the soul of Science Fiction. DUNE deserves all its accolades both in terms of story, theme, character, and its sprawling, fully realized false future that never came to be.

DUNE (Amazon), the first in a long series of novels by Frank Herbert, tells the story of humanity millennia in the future. Certain technology is suspect, due to dark atrocities brought about by atomics (atomic bombs and other atomic-powered technology) and robotic uprisings, in the vein of contemporaries like Arthur C. Clarke. The universe is ruled by a galactic emperor who divides planets into the stewardship of noble houses. Within this viper’s nest of nobles clashing against each other, there are monastic orders like the Bene Gesserit, an all female order of psionically gifted matrons manipulating a genetic conspiracy for millennia, who vie for influence and control within the Galactic Padishah Empire.
Read the rest of this post »

Review

Iron Gold

Posted: March 22, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Pierce Brown, Science Fiction
Iron Gold

I remember picking up GOLDEN SON for the first time and being surprised at where the author started the story. RED RISING had finished in such a way that, given the thousands of other books I’d read, I fully expected GOLDEN SON to be about Battle School. If any other author had written it, that book just might have been about Battle School instead of starting at the end of those two vicious years of Darrow’s training. And that single fact made not only that book, but the entire series, rise up above so many of those others and give a mighty shout that it would be heard. Thus, it was no surprise to me to learn that after writing three solid books about Darrow’s rise to power, that Mr. Brown should choose to begin the next book in his series after ten years of hard-fought war later. Ten. Years. From what I can tell, Pierce Brown is not only asking himself “What is the next story in this world that I could tell?” when he sits down to write the next book, but “What is the most brilliant next story in this world that I could tell?”. And people, when an author does that for their readers — when he goes all out to deliver a knockout punch every single time — THAT is the kind of author that you want to pay attention to. THAT is the kind of author that you want to give you money to. Because THAT author deserves his coveted title. The title of “Favorite Author”.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Children of the Fleet

Posted: March 21, 2018 by Jane Funk in Books We Like Meta: Orson Scott Card, Science Fiction
Children of the Fleet

I first learned the term “bottle episode” while watching “Community” (thank you, Abed). One episode of Season 2 takes place entirely in a locked room as the characters search for a missing pen. While the premise is absurd, trapping everyone in the same room allows for hilarity, as well as serious revelations about their relationships, to ensue. Not only are ‘bottle episodes’ cheap to shoot, relying on one set instead of several, they are also light on plot, allowing writers to spend more time focusing on character development. In his newest addition to the Enderverse, CHILDREN OF THE FLEET, Card immerses his readers once again in a world of precocious children, absent but watchful adults, and a life or death mission. While it’s not exactly a bottle episode, Card’s narrative shares a similar intense focus on depth, not breadth. By limiting himself to a relatively simple plot and using the already familiar setting of Battle Fleet School, Card can fully explore the emotional journey of Dabeet Ochoa.

Set in the aftermath of Ender’s victory in the Third Formic war, CHILDREN OF THE FLEET (Amazon) begins after Battle School has been converted to Fleet School, a place to train future leaders for humanity’s colonization efforts. Dabeet Ochoa is a preternaturally intelligent child who is convinced that he belongs in Fleet School, not stuck on Earth.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Annihilation

Annihilation

I really like the trend I’m seeing of speculative fiction comprising a larger portion of the movies and tv (streaming?) shows in production today. In fact, the whole reason I picked this book up was because someone was making a movie out of it, and the trailer totally pulled me in. Got another book in my stack right now with a review waiting to be posted, that I picked up because of the same kind of media inspiration. Netflix has just been upping the game. If I’m honest with myself, most of the new movie/tv speculative goodness seems to be coming from, or associated with, them. Granted, not everything. But lots of it, yeah? Have you been keeping up on your “Coming Soon” trailers and news buzz? Might just be time that you did that. After you read this, of course. What were you thinking?
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Elysium Fire

Posted: February 15, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Elysium Fire

Negative boring parts. If you’re not familiar with that term, you should likely go and read my review of THE PREFECT (EBR Review), which was one of those Alastair Reynolds books that I just hadn’t gotten to when the release date for this sequel showed up in my email. I mean, yeah, I could just stop reading anything else altogether and go read all of his stuff that I haven’t been able to yet, and it would be awesome. But then EBR would suffer, and I just can’t justify that. Although, I don’t have to plan on catching up on anything before his next novel comes out. Of course, this means that I’ll remember that fact perfectly well the next time I have a hankering for some science fiction goodness instead of forgetting about it until it’s too late. The reason I won’t have to catch up on anything, is because his next two books are going to be direct follow-ups to REVENGER (EBR Review). But until those are available, there’s lots of currently-available goodness to be had from this author. This novel being a prime example.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Prefect

Posted: February 1, 2018 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
The Prefect

After reading Revenger last year, I remember finding out that the next book from Mr. Reynolds was going to be a sequel to this book. As I hadn’t read it yet, I decided to put it on my list of books to read “relatively” soon. I figured I had about a year after all. Color me purple, the sequel caught me completely unawares, and I suddenly realized that I either needed to get on the bandwagon extremely fast, or I was going to have to read that new one without having read the first in the series. Okay, so honestly that second option really wasn’t ever on the table, as the surprise I first felt at finding the sequel in my hands was quickly swept aside by the realization that I now had a valid excuse to read TWO Alastair Reynolds books in a row. Oh goodie goodie for me. So although this review is coming to you all a little late with respect to its actual publication date, I will be following it up with a review for the sequel in short measure. So check this one out, and then watch for my next review in the coming weeks.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Persepolis Rising

Posted: December 5, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Persepolis Rising

…and so here I am, writing a review for a book that I haven’t even received in the mail yet, and I realize just how upside-down the world has turned. I mean, YES, I was uber-excited to get the story early, but there’s just something that I miss about being able to turn the actual pages of a real book. The feel of the paper in my fingers, the visual cue of the turning of the page, the smell of it. It all just seems a bit MORE when I get the physical book. When I can see it on my shelf, sitting there staring back at me. For some reason, ebooks just make a story seem somehow… easier than they should. Less substantive. So am I over-exaggerating at all when I tell you I’m even more excited to get my actual book in the mail later tonight, on the date of “publication”, than I was to get the eARC I actually read? Not in the slightest. In fact, I may just have to start reading this one again. When I get home from work tonight. Just… you know… don’t tell my boss or anything. Cause I really should be reading the next book in my queue. 🙂
Read the rest of this review »

Review

A Lot Like Christmas

Posted: November 16, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Connie Willis, Science Fiction, Short Fiction
A Lot Like Christmas

I’ve always loved Connie Willis. She’s the kind of writer who makes reading fun, whose stories engage her readers and really makes them think. Her stories are full of the whimsical, absurd, and humorous with endearing characters, clever prose, and witty dialogue. Connie’s collection of Christmas-themed short stories was first published in 2000, but lucky us, this year we get an updated and expanded edition in A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. Connie writes Christmas with heart and delight, hope and joy, but still with her signature twisty elements that take you where you don’t expect–and to a better story. I love The Washington Post‘s quote from the flyer insert the publisher included: “A novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness…” What better way to read about Christmas than with “bounce and stylishness” because that implies a joy for the process of telling a story.

All of the short stories are great because she’s not afraid to mix faith and science fiction, allowing religion center stage without forcing it on readers. Here are some of my favorites from the collection.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Strange Dogs

Posted: November 9, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Strange Dogs

When originally planning out my review for this one, I thought about beginning with a strongly-worded letter to the publisher about ebooks in general, but decided against it. Instead, I’m going to opt for writing a strongly worded letter to all publishers of ebooks with the purpose of letting them know about my little beef with the way they’re doing things. So, here we go. “To Whom It May Concern: I am a huge fan of reading awesome books, and I read many of them on the e-reader of my choice. At the bottom of every page of every story I receive for my e-reader is a little percentage scale, which I quite frequently reference while reading, that let’s me know just how far I am into the story and how much goodness I have left to go. This tool has become a staple for me when reading books for the purpose of reviewing them. While reading this book, however, I came to a point that my e-reader’s scale said was about 65% of the way through the book when I found these unexpected words on the next page: THE END. I was incredibly perturbed by finding that the story I was reading was inexplicably over, and that the remaining 35% of the file was filled with sample chapters I had no interest in reading whatsoever. Hrm. How to say this nicely? Please do not do this to me again. There. If you want to give me sample chapters, which I am usually quite amenable to receiving, please instead include a link to said sample chapters on your website or other online location so that I do not feel cheated when suddenly finishing the awesome stories I expected to get in the first place. Thank you. Sincerely Yours, Your Somewhat-Disgruntled Yet Still Mostly-Friendly Neighborhood Team of Elitists”
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Luna: Wolf Moon

Posted: October 12, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Hate Meta: Ian McDonald, Science Fiction
Luna: Wolf Moon

You may have already noticed, but there’s this little fever burning through the public at large right now concerning a certain speculative fiction series. Its novels are door-stoppers, its HBO episodes are reportedly hitting $15M a piece to produce, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (heh-heh) to realize that hitching your ride to such a wagon might not be the worst idea in the world if you’re looking to make a few bucks. It’s also available for attaching parallels that can instantly make a connection to the minds of many readers. So, seeing this book’s predecessor described as “A Game of Moons”, is sure to pull in more than a few readers, yeah? You’d think. But the difficult part in all of that would be the actual story, and whether it can stand up to such a comparison to a story that is loved by, literally, millions. Maybe you all can see where I’m going with this, and if you happen to remember my review of that last book, it’ll probably even be an easier line to pick up.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Bannerless

Posted: July 6, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Dystopian SF
Bannerless

From the cover: “Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn’t just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them, with symbolic banners awarded to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.”

Our main character, Enid, is from the community called Haven, and works as an investigator–she mediates disputes and investigates offenses against those living along the Coast Road. In her mid-twenties, she’s considered young for the job, and her first big case is to investigate the suspicious death of a young man treated as an outcast.

Strangely enough, in the post-apocalypse life murder is rare. Strict controls of being able to prove your worth as a contributing member of the community means people are focused on surviving and earning the right to have offspring. While for the most part this concept works, too many chafe at the restriction, hence the need for investigators.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Humanity 2.0

Humanity 2.0

This one comes as yet another in a long line of short-story anthologies that have fallen into my lap. Most of the others up to this point have been fantastical (urban, heroic, horrific), but this one instead is of the science-fictiony variety. More specifically, it tries to deal with how humanity might change when, not if, interstellar travel becomes possible. Was hoping for some goodness out of this bunch of stories. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Cosmic Powers

Cosmic Powers

It feels like I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction lately. Well, more than usual anyhow. There’s something about the quick in and quick out that’s attracting me right now for some reason. Perhaps it’s because I’ve run into a dearth of new novels from my favorite authors and I need to find some new sources for brilliant storytelling. It’s kind of a disquieting feeling for me to not have something in my queue that I’m ridiculously excited to read. This anthology definitely fit the bill, and it was science fiction to boot, which is a genre I’m always looking to fill with new favorites. And this time around, I think I might have found one or two. Praise.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

The Collapsing Empire

Posted: May 30, 2017 by Shawn in Books We Like Meta: John Scalzi, Science Fiction
The Collapsing Empire

There’s something comforting about reading a series, isn’t there?  You get to come back to situations and characters you’ve already met and fell in love with (at least I’m assuming you fell in love with them, otherwise, why continue reading the series?).  It’s like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket.  On the other hand is the excitement of something new.  One of my favorite things of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre is coming into a book and that opening, those first couple pages/chapters where everything is starting to take place in your head.  You start building a framework of this new world, these new people, this new story.  It’s fantastic (no pun intended).  For the last 15 years or so we’ve been getting Old Man’s War books from John Scalzi and then occasionally another standalone novel thrown in.  But the standalone novels have always been stand alone (I know that he had/has plans for more books in the Lock-in world and the Android’s Dream world, but we haven’t gotten those yet have we?).

Now for the first time in awhile we have a brand new universe for Scalzi to play in.  A whole new setting that will span at least a few books.  And while his other books have stood alone each telling their own stories and wrapping it all up, this one, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE, is certainly just the beginning of a series.  There are a few minor things that get wrapped up, but the major stories, the major events are still very much open and ongoing.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Revenger

Posted: February 23, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: Alastair Reynolds, Science Fiction
Revenger

So I’ve been sitting on my hands for the last five months, fairly disgruntled, that I didn’t have this story in my hands yet, because it was published in the UK last September and as part of that cycle, released in ebook/Kindle format. I’m pretty much a hard-copy only kind of guy. I don’t buy eBooks. I’ll read them. I just don’t buy them, because I so love seeing all of those bound blocks of paper sitting on my bookshelves at home. As Tracy Hickman refers to them (per my sometimes sketchy memory), the “physical reminders of the experience we found within them”. I guess I always have the option of importing hard copies, but that can get expensive fast, and for the most part I end up just shaking my head and dealing with it. Regardless, it’s always nice to get a new Alastair Reynolds book.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Martians Abroad

Posted: January 26, 2017 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Martians Abroad

To Polly’s dismay, her mother–the administrator of Mars Colony–has signed up Polly and her brother Charles to the earth school Galileo Academy where the teens will rub shoulders with the progeny of the solar system’s elite. Polly and Charles were born on Mars and have lived there all their lives; but while Charles considers schooling on Earth as useful, Polly knows she’ll miss Mars and doesn’t want to give up her own plans.

Here at EBR we love us some Carrie Vaughn. We’ve reviewed several of her Kitty Norville books as well as a couple of her standalones, DISCORD’S APPLE (EBR Review) and AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE (EBR Review). Now her newest book, MARTIANS ABROAD is another standalone in the vein of Heinlein’s Young Adult books (such as CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY — EBR review) mixed with a little STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND–only our protagonist is a teenage girl.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Babylon’s Ashes

Posted: January 12, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction
Babylon’s Ashes

If you haven’t at least heard about this series by now, it’s likely that you’re not a fan of science fiction. If you’re looking to be a fan, this is a great series to start with as it is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the best Science Fiction series being written today. The writing duo of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have been doing a bang up job of it, and this book has FINALLY arrived. I include the emphasis here only because it feels like I’ve been waiting for this book for so long, and nothing to do with the book being delayed. The authors have been doing a great job of keeping these books coming on a regular schedule, and I can do nothing but applaud the work they’ve done so far. That being said, it did feel like a long time since book five, and I know that has to be because of the zinger of a hit the story took, when the Free Navy finally brought their war from out of the shadows.
Read the rest of this review »

Review

Confluence

Posted: December 20, 2016 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: S.K. Dunstall, Space Opera
Confluence

Here we are on book three of S.K. Dunstall’s Linesman series, CONFLUENCE. Our friends seem to be barely hanging on because now the Emperor of Lancia, Michelle’s father, has decided to assert his influence in the New Alliance, which includes marrying her off for political gain. Emperor Yu also wants his cousin, Ean’s trusty bodyguard Dominique Radko, to marry to one of Yu’s trusted (and nefarious) advisors–to Ean’s dismay. But Michelle and gang are crafty and begin their own maneuverings in order to maintain as much control of events as they can.

Unfortunately, the humans aren’t taking the sentient alien ships into account. The ships want a crew now, whether the New Alliance factions are ready to supply crews and linesmen or not. And that may mean the ships start choosing crew without input from the humans.

It feels like everything is on the verge of blowing up.
Read the rest of this review »