Category Archives: science fiction

Ghostdrift (The Finder Chronicles 4) by Suzanne Palmer

Sponsored link

Stars: 5 out of 5.

When we last saw Fergus, he had been saved from imminent and very painful death by the Asig, while he in turn saved the known galaxy. But all is not sunshine and roses in this book. Yes, Fergus is alive and even whole, but he is the most wanted man in the humanity settled cosmos, with a hefty price on his head and a lot of powerful enemies. So he has been in hiding. Which means that he has been alone with is cat and no contact with his family and friends. But when one such friend finally comes calling and asks for his help to free another friend from pirates, of course he will say yes.

Suzanne Palmer has a gift for creating likeable characters. I mean, we are dealing with a ship full of pirates here, yet I grew rather fond of all of them in the end. I think this is also due to the fact that Fergus always tries to see good in people, or at least to find ways to coexist with those he has no choice but to interact with due to various circumstances. It also helps that all of the characters are painted in different shades of gray and all have their own needs, wants and motivations. The villains aren’t even just for the sake of being evil, they have their own reasons behind their actions. The good guys aren’t always exactly good either. Everyone is human and bound to make an absolute mess out of things.

I also liked the main mystery of this book – a missing ship, possible rogue active jump points. A solitary planet in the middle of the Gap between two sections of the galaxy. Oh, and new kinds of aliens, who turn out not so evil in the end after all. Oh, and Fergus being his usual “interesting” self. We get more Asig as well, and get introduced to some of the other humans they changed.

I had a lot of fun with this story, and I am looking forward to following Fergus on his future adventures.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Redemption Ark (Revelation Space 2) by Alasdair Reynolds

Sponsored link

Stars: 2.5 out of 5.

This is the third book I read by this author, and I’m beginning to see a trend: the worldbuilding is excellent. The ideas are fascinating and thought-provoking. The faraway future of human space exploration and settlement the author paints is definitely worth exploring further. But the characters, oh the characters… the author can’t write engaging characters to save his life.

It was a slight issue for me in the first book of the series, Revelation Space, but the new world was interesting enough to dive into that I overlooked the lack of engaging characters to follow. It was also visible in the prequel Chasm City, but at least that book gave me some answers about other things raised in book 1, so I let is slide. But this problem came to the forefront in this book, because the main storyline is most definitely character driven. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any good characters to latch on to. And by good I mean interesting and realistic, or even engaging. 

I couldn’t care less for Clavain and his identity crisis, mostly because he came off condescending and thinking himself smarter and better than anyone else in the universe… while making some rather stupid assumptions and decisions. I also didn’t like Skade and couldn’t really understand her motivations for being as she is. You would think that it would be better explained, since she is the main villain. But even her story was put aside halfway through, when Clavain and his crew got busy with the big confrontation with the Triumvir. 

Speaking of which, what was that even about? We spent pages upon pages talking about the importance of the weapons, and everyone is fighting for control and possession of said weapons… only to just leave them and run at the end? What was the point of this book exactly then? If they were essential for the fight against the Inhibitors, then why didn’t anyone bother to scoop them up before they turned tail and burned it out of the dying system?

As it stands, the book dragged for me. In fact, it took me the better half of last year and then a couple months in 2024 to finish it, simply because I would start losing interest after 10 pages or so and put the book away. I had to force myself to come back to it every time and finish it. I will still give book 3 a try to see where this story is going, but I hope it will be a much tighter book with at least a couple characters I can latch into.

A Mirage in the Memory by Simon Tull

Sponsored link

Stars: 3 out of 5.

I like the concept of this book. This is a post-apocalyptic world where some humans have been turned into vampires… then exterminated normal humans. Now the world is ending, the civilization is crumbling, and the immortal vampires linger in sun-shielded cities under the tyrannical rule of a handful of families. 

I was fascinated by the few glimpses we have of this world and I would have loved to learn more. Unfortunately, the author gives us only crumbs of information. Though I understand that this is a prequel, so maybe the events that led to the current state of affairs are explained in the main books.

My issue with this book is that even though the world is fascinating, I simply couldn’t empathize with the protagonist. Yes, he is haunted by the things he has done and the lover he was forced to leave behind, but it felt rather flat for me. I think I would have felt more invested in his plight if the author had introduced me to his relationship with his wife a bit more. Maybe in flashbacks or something. Or if I got to experience the event that made him leave her behind instead of just seeing it mentioned here and there. As it stands, I had no clear feel for their relationship, and no clue why he left her, or why he felt guilty about it. 

I also need to mention that a lot of the choices the protagonist makes in this story are… questionable, to say the least. Not to mention that the ending is a complete downer. I mean, nothing was accomplished. Thibault is still as much of a slave as he ever was, AND he still doesn’t know where his wife is or if she is even still alive. So what was the purpose of all this?

I was honestly more interested in the side characters, like the burned hacker or the android mod builder. Them, I wouldn’t mind reading about. Thibault? Not so much.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Sponsored Link

Stars: 2.5 out of 5.

I come to the conclusion that I don’t like how this author writes her protagonists. I had that problem with her previous book, and it’s even worse in this one. Ophelia is a horrible person, at least in my opinion, and instead of punishing her for her shortcomings and making her grow up and become a better human being, the author rewards her for them.

I mean who you have a protagonist that LIED about her past to get the job she has now. Mind you, this job is to help people suffering from a psychological condition that can make them violent and delusional. Moreover, this is a condition Ophelia is very familiar with because her father had it… yes, that’s the part she lied about. Oh, and she also has PTSD from her experience with things her father did, and a plethora of other psychological issues herself, yet she thinks she can be objective enough to help others with this? I mean how self-absorbed do you have to be to think that this is okay?

Also, no professional board in their right mind would ever authorize something like that, so no wonder she had to lie about her identity. Oh, and use the influence and money of the family she despises so much just to get what she wants. So it’s okay to disparage your relatives and pretend that you are better than them, but still use their name when it suits you… okay then.

Not only that, but Ophelia also accepts a posting that will put her in the precise situation that will trigger her PTSD. She know is, in fact, she mentions is a few times… yet she fights tooth and nail to still get that position. I mean is that supposed to endear her to me? If this protagonist spent even a moment thinking about anyone other than herself, she would realize that she is the LAST person that needs to go on this mission. That by going she is putting everyone else in danger. She is supposed to provide psychological counseling and stability to the crew put under difficult conditions. How is she supposed to do that when she has several psychological breakdowns just being in an abandoned space station? But no, that thought doesn’t even cross her mind.

And, as I mentioned before, the author thinks this is perfectly normal and in fact brave of Ophelia to do that. She is rewarded for being this reckless and selfish at every turn. She is saved from though situations by plot armor and deus ex machina solutions. 

That’s the other issue I have with this book – the ending is extremely underwhelming, just like the previous book by her, Dead Silence, has been. We get this huge buildup with so many mysteries and horrors… and it all circles back to the evil corporation will be evil trope.. that we already saw in the previous book as well. This is getting old, and it cheapens the plot, in my opinion.

As for the supporting characters, there is really nothing much to say about them. They are more a collection of stereotypes than realized individuals. We have the gruff team leader with a hidden heart of gold who will become the protagonist’s possible love interest. Then we have the rude macho dude that hates her from the get go (for good reasons, mind you). And another male character that might as well be a non-entity. As for females, we have the b76chy female that will turn out to be evil, and a sweet young innocent girl that everybody wants to protect. Actually, if you look at the cast of characters in this book and compare it to the characters in Dead Silence, they are identical. Only the names changed.

I think I’m done with this author. Their stories sound so great when you read the blurb, and the covers are top notch, but the execution is sorely lacking, at least in my opinion. 

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu

Sponsored link

DNF at 60%

I love the cover of this book. It’s what drew me to it in the first place. The content, however, was rather disappointing. 

Part of it is due to the rather non-existent worldbuilding. There is the city of Shantiport that might or might not be sinking, and it’s implied that it’s part of a bigger inter-galactic civilization, but we don’t get much more details than that. What planet is this on? How is this civilization organized? Why are people fleeing it? Is it really sinking? There are hints here and there, but they never form a coherent picture. 

Problem is, since I can’t see the overall picture, I don’t understand the stakes. And since I don’t understand the stakes, I can’t really get invested in the characters’ fights. Will a revolution be good for Shantiport? How is that better or worse than what they have now? 

Another reason for my gradual lack of interest with this book is that the author chose to tell this story through the eyes of dispassionate (at least at first) observer. Yes, Moku ends up getting involved in the action and even taking sides, but it was a little too late for me. Since Moku can’t read Lina or Bador’s minds (after Bador blocks him), he can only observe their actions and speculate to their motives. Problem is, they show very little, especially Lina, who had to live with constant surveillance all her life and learned to show a blank mask to the world in most occasions. 

It’s an interesting concept in theory, but a boring read in execution. I can’t empathize with a character if I have no clue what their motives are. Both Lina and Bador appear shallow and self-centered at times because of their actions, since the reader isn’t privy to their motivations. Which also means that some of their actions come a bit out of the left field as well.

The pacing of the book is also very slow. The action sequences are fun, especially Bador’s intervention during the fight between two giant robots, but they are few and far between. What we have most of the time are pages upon pages of dialog (and sometimes monolog) that go absolutely nowhere. And since the characters are under surveillance, they speak in riddles, which makes those passages even more convoluted and, honestly, boring to read.

I am very disappointed in this book. The cover drew me in and promised something fun and original, but the content let me down.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Sponsored link

Stars: 5 out of 5.

I can’t believe it took me so long to actually read this book! It’s been languishing on my TBR list since 2014. That’s 10 years. All I can say is that life got in the way and with so many other wonderful books, I got sidetracked. But I rectified that mistake now, and boy did I love this book! I am a big fan of the movie with Matt Damon, and I had found it clever and suspenseful, but let me tell you, the book is better, as books often are.

What I loved most about Mark Watney both in the book and the movies is his relentless optimism and ability to problem solve. Yes, he has times when he breaks down and freaks out and has a temper tantrum when things go from bad to worse, but he never just wallows in the misery. Yes, stuff happened, but it didn’t kill him (yet), so he will do everything in his power to prevent it from killing him, then troubleshoot everything to insure that he lives another day and is slightly closer to rescue. That sheer good humor is contagious and very fun to read about. 

Because, honestly, Mark’s situation is really dire, if you think about it. He is stranded alone on a hostile planet with no means of communication with Earth or even his crewmates on the Hermes. And everyone thinks that he is dead. Another human would have despaired and given up, but not Mark. 

The food won’t last until the next Ares mission lands on Mars? Let’s try to grow some potatoes on Martian soil. After all, he has half a dozen non-frozen potatoes to work with, and he can produce plenty of fertilizer. Sure, it will not smell good, but needs must. No way to communicate with Earth? Let’s do a field trip to pick up Pathfinder, and test if he can survive in a rover for long period of time. Stuff really went FUBAR? He is still alive, so he will figure out something to keep himself being alive until rescue comes.

I also liked the down to earth (or down to Mars) way this story was told. Sure, we are in the near future, so it’s a science fiction book, but all the technology and solutions that Mark comes up with are very plausible and accomplishable even with current day technology. And because it is so plausible, I found myself a lot more involved in Mark’s fate. Because this could happen in real life. We are already talking about a manned mission to Mars in the near future, so we could have a man stranded there in my life time (though I really really hope not).

I loved the very hopeful tone of this book as well. Yes, the situation is dire, but the author chose to concentrate on everyone’s efforts to save Mark Watney instead of finger pointing and dicussing who made what mistake leading to this situation. The author chose to show us a world united in a common goal, which is very refreshing and hopeful, especially in the current political climat.

Anyway, this is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it even for those who already saw the movie. There is a lot more here than ever made it into film.

Redspace Rising by Brian Trent

Sponsored link

Stars: 3 out of 5.

I have a hard time reviewing this book. On one hand, I loved the worldbuilding. It’s complex and interesting, and brutal, to be honest. In a way, it reminded me of Altered Carbon. On the other hand, I honestly couldn’t care less about the protagonist or the other characters. Hence my dilemma, so I will just rate it middle of the road, I think.

This book illustrates perfectly that the value of a human life goes down significantly when technology is advanced enough to achieve near immortality. Why care about the body if your consciousness is backed up on a regular basis, and you can be decanted into a new clone in a matter of days? It opens the door to great deeds of selflessness, but also to horrible abuse. Just thinking about the torture row on Phobos makes my blood boil. Imagine torture that can last forever, because every time you die, they just decant you into a different clone and start all over again. 

On this one, I wish we would have had a chance to explore the theme of identity a bit more in this book. What happens if there are several versions of you running around at the same time? Who is the real one or the “prime”? What rights do the clones have? How do you decide whose memories and experiences merit a backup and whose don’t? Unfortunately, even though we have a character living in two bodies, that particular concern is never explored.

As I had mentioned, by biggest problem was that I couldn’t empathize with the protagonist. In many ways, Harris Alexander Pope is a blank slate. I understand that this was done on purpose, since even the character himself doesn’t know who he really is or what he wants, but it makes it hard for the reader to form an emotional connection. Since Harris doesn’t his own mind or even his motivation in most cases, it’s hard to decide if we should root for him or not. What does he want in life apart from meet up with his brother? Unknown. Why is he pursuing the Patriots so relentlessly? Unknown. Why does he always repeat the same speech word for word before he kill them? Un… no, wait, that is known, but that would be a big spoiler.

It doesn’t help that the supporting characters are rather unlikeable, apart maybe from Umera. And the bad people are so villainous they come across as caricatures. I mean what’s with the supposedly great general and strategist who finishes all his sentences with an exclamation point and loves to drone on and on and on… like he is giving a lecture? I couldn’t take him seriously even if I wanted to!

I also wasn’t satisfied with the ending. I mean, yes, it’s a win for humanity – they get a chance to expand beyond the solar system, but is it a win for Harris? I wouldn’t be so sure. He is still stuck in his hunt and destroy loop, and he honestly doesn’t have any dreams or desires aside from that. 

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Eyes of the Void (The Final Architecture 2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Sponsored Link

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

You would think that when different factions and races that make up intelligent life in the galaxy discover that the Architects are back, they would put aside their petty squabbles and unite in the face of an overwhelming enemy, right? Well, you would be wrong.

The Architects are back and this time they are destroying inhabited worlds regardless of the species who live on them, whereas before they only concentrated on human worlds. Heck, even the Hegemony isn’t protected by their Originator relics anymore. But instead of uniting and fighting together, humanity is shattering and descending into an inner conflicts. HUGH and the Partheni are at each other’s throats and the smallest spark can ignite a powder keg of mutual destruction…

It’s interesting to see that all the characters in this book struggled with their loyalties to their respective factions versus their own moral code and what they thought was the right thing to do. Idris defected to the Partheni at the end of the last book because he hoped that they could engineer Ints without subjecting people to the horrible programs that HUGH had put in place. Programs that have over 80% mortality. And the surviving Ints are broken beyond repair, and are no better than slaves. But when a war between HUGH and Partheni seems eminent, he struggles with this decision. Is he a traitor for abandoning the Colonies? Of course, soon that consideration becomes rather irrelevant, at least to him.

Solace and Olli have their own doubts and crisis of faith moments as well, but ultimately, I love that their first loyalty is to their found family on Vulture God as well as humanity as a whole instead of a particular faction their originated from. 

We also learn a lot more about the universe, the structure of Unspace and its relation to our real space, oh and a little bit about the foreboding presence that stalks whoever enters Unspace. 

I was also impressed with the few planets described in this book. The destruction of Arc Pallator by the Architects after they removed the Originator ruins was epic. Especially considering that our characters were smack in the middle of it, running in said ruins. That was an amazing and heartpouding sequence of events.  And Criccieth’s Hell is truly a hellish world. 

My only complaint about this book is that the characters seem a lot more passive than in the first book – things happen to them, and they just react to that instead of being a driving force behind the story. This is especially true of Idris, who spends the whole book being a magic McGuffin that everyone tries to kidnap.

This small complaint notwithstanding, I enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to the last book in the series.

Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax 2) by Ann Aguirre

Sponsored link

Stars: 3 out of 5.

I liked this book better than the first one, probably because I was already somewhat familiar with the world, so I wasn’t as lost. Plus, the story progresses from the events of the last book, and our protagonist’s actions have some very real consequences.

I am less annoyed with Sirantha in this book as well. She is still an emotional wreak, but she seems more self-aware at least. And she is finally becoming a lot less selfish then she was in the first book. I think she finally realized that she isn’t just a jumper anymore who has no other responsibilities than to get the ship from point A to point B through Grimspace without loosing anyone in the process. Even if in the beginning she only accepted the mission of ambassador to get off planet (and frankly because she didn’t have two coins left to rub together), by the end of the book she started taking this mission very seriously.

I think seeing the Morgut infested space station had a lot to do with that change of heart. You can’t really remain selfish when you realize that there is a species out there who thinks humans are delicious, and destroying the Conglomerate just rang the dinner bell. Honestly, I think the segment of them exploring that space station was the best part of the book. It was scary and intense, and reminded me of some of the best space horror titles I read this year.

I still have issues with Sirantha’s and March’s relationship though. It feels very unhealthy to me. I mean, they claim to love each other unconditionally. To always be there for each other and all that stuff. Yet, they can’t talk things through when they hit a difficult bump on the road and get their feelings hurt. Or just plain abandon the other because someone else needs them more. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but I honestly still can’t understand March’s decision on Lachion. Probably because I didn’t give a flying fig about the war between the clans on that planet. Honestly, that part of the book was a slog to read. 

What I am saying is that I don’t understand why the author keeps pushing these two characters together when they are obviously toxic for each other. If that’s her idea of a perfect relationship, I will have a problem with the rest of the books. I like my relationship on the non-abusive spectrum. 

Oh, and the whole subplot about Jax’s mother was very far-fetched in my opinion. Are you honestly expecting me to believe that in all those years Sirantha was growing up, she never noticed that her mother was at the head of a crime syndicate? Right…

However, I am interested enough in the worldbuilding to give the next book a try. If nothing else, I really want to know how they will resolve the Morgut problem. I am also interested to learn a bit more about Grimspace, and why Sirantha can sense it even when not jacked up.

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 1) by Tamsyn Muir

This is a sponsored link.

Stars: 4 our of 5.

This was a very bizarre book set in a weird world, and I loved every minute of it! A one sentence summary for this story would be – Necromancers in Space, but that doesn’t do this book justice. 

I came into this book with no small amount of trepidation, because opinions were very divided about it amongst my Goodreads friends. Some adored it, some couldn’t stand it, some DNFed it halfway through. I now can proudly admit that I am in the “adored it” camp.

I think the biggest surprise for me was just how attached I grew to all the characters. I grew to love all of the necromancers of various houses and their cavaliers. It was interesting to observe their interactions as well as ties that kept the different pairs together. And some of the characters I even enjoyed hating, like the unbending militaristic Second house, or the scheming Eight. 

The slower pace of the book in the first half helped create that effect – the author takes her time first showing us the abysmal life that Gideon lived in the Ninth house, and the decrepitude it was slowly falling into. That way I clearly understood why Harrow was so desperate to answer the summons, or why Gideon would agree to come along, even though she hated her guts. 

By taking time to introduce us to the different characters and explore the strange palace they find themselves in, the author makes us care for everyone. Even Teacher with his perpetual good humor. So when the horrors start happening and the first deaths occur, it hits the reader like a punch in the gut. Especially since it happens to the characters that are the most sympathetic of them all.

The ending is also heartbreaking. I wanted so badly for Gideon to finally break free from the clutches of the Ninth house. I’m glad that her and Harrow finally aired all their grievances and made piece before the final confrontation with the big bad of the book. So Gideon’s sacrifice came as a natural conclusion of that story. It made sense. It was the only way Gideon could act at that time. It was still heartbreaking.

I wish we got a few more answers by the end of this book. Where did Gideon come from? Why was there mentions of her name in this palace? Why can’t the Emperor set foot on the planet again? What was the force lurking beneath the place that Teacher was so afraid of? I doubt we will ever get the answers to these questions now, since this story seems over.

I will however continue with this series because I want to know what force in the galaxy is more terrifying than a whole empire of necromancers.