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Newsletter #111 September November, 2015

Short Recommendations
by Don Blyly

        Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia ($25.00) is the first of the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series, and is very different from any other novels that Larry has written. There are no guns and very little humor in the first volume. This is a more traditional fantasy novel, set on a world with a rigid caste system.
        There was a war many centuries ago between the humans and the demons, that eventually lead to the demons controlling the seas and the humans controlling the land. Over the centuries, the number of magical weapons has slowly decreased, and without the magical weapons the demons will take the land away from the humans. After its previous bearer died, a powerful ancient sword picked young Ashok to be its new bearer (after killing or maiming the other humans who first tried to claim it). After years of training, Ashok became a Protector, part of an elite military order of roving law enforcers. Ashok became legendary not only for defeating incursions by the demons, but also for having a very rigid black and white attitude towards law enforcement. Political maneuverings among the leading human factions, plus some uncovered secrets from Ashok’s past, place Ashok on the wrong side of the law, but his rigid black and white attitudes continue. Larry will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Tuesday, October 27, 5-6 pm.

        A few years ago, when it seemed like half of Uncle Hugo’s new release section was paranormal romances, it was hard to find much space opera. That is no longer the case.
        Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey ($27.00) is the fifth volume in The Expanse series. In the first three books in this wonderful series, Leviathan Wakes ($17.00), Caliban’s War ($17.00), and Abaddon’s Gate ($17.00), the action takes place in the Solar system. In the fourth book, Cibola Burn ($17.00), the humans are using alien technology to expand into the galaxy, and James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are sent through the alien gateway to try to make peace between a group of independent settlers and a powerful corporate colony ship, which becomes even more difficult when the billion year old artificial planet wakes up and turns violent. In Nemesis Games, the Rocinante is back in the Solar system for massive repairs. Holden stays with the ship to supervise repairs, and the rest of the crew split up to tie up loose ends from their earlier lives, Amos back to the slums of Earth, Alex back to Mars, and Naomi among a radical political element of the asteroid belt. This allows the book to fill in a lot of back story regarding the main characters, to show in more depth the deep political divisions within the Solar system, and has the crew spread all over the place when all hell breaks loose, so we can view things from four different points of view. I suspect the next book will go back to the galaxy.
        The last I read, the SyFy channel series based on The Expanse is supposed to begin broadcasting in December. The first episode was shown at the San Diego ComicCon, and received very favorable reveiws.

        Empire of Dust by Jacey Bedford ($7.99) is the first published novel by a new British author, and it’s a very good old fashioned space opera. Hundred of jump gates have allowed the humans to expand to over 1000 colony worlds, and the megacorps are always looking for more worlds to terraform and sell to new batches of colonists. They are also constantly searching for teenagers with a bit of psi ability, and those they find are “given” hardware in their brains to greatly boost their psi abilities and lots of training to use that hardware, after which they owe decades of work to the megacorps as psi-techs to pay off the megacorps’ investment in the hardware and training. The megacorps profit not only from selling new worlds to colonists, but also from renting teams of psi-techs to help the colonies to develop and thrive. Cara is a runaway psi-tech, who has proof of how corrupt and ruthless her former employer is. She teams up (under a false identity) with a psi-tech from a competing megacorp to help establish a new colony on the edge of the frontier, hoping that will keep her former employer from tracking her down. But there are soon problems with the new colonists, with the planet, and with corruption within competing megacorps.
        Crossways ($7.99), the sequel, has just arrived, and is also very good.

        Linesman by S. K. Dunstall ($7.99) is another good space opera by another new author (actually two sisters writing together). Five hundred years before the novel begins, an alien spaceship was found and the technology was replicated to allow humans to get to the stars. There are ten lines that control a spaceship, with three of the lines being vital for getting to the stars. The job of a linesman is to keep the ten lines functioning properly. There are a lot of people who are capable of balancing the lower lines, but only fifty people in the human part of the galaxy who have the skills needed to balance all ten lines. After five hundred years, the humans have colonized hundreds of worlds and split into three major power blocks, each with extensive space military forces. All of the linesmen are members of the Linesmen’s Guild, which handles certification and working conditions, and is supposed to insulate linesmen from the political squabbles of the different power blocks.
        After five hundred years of not finding any aliens, the humans have found another alien artifact, much more powerful than the earlier alien ship, and everybody wants to control the new artifact. The story is told from the points of view of two very different level ten linesmen. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment of the story.

        It’s been almost three years since Michael Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire series came out, but I just got around to reading it. The books are Seeds of Earth ($9.00), The Orphaned Worlds ($9.00), and The Ascendant Stars ($9.00). This is a very big universe space opera, like those of Peter F. Hamilton or Iain M. Banks, with lots of things going on. In the first book, Earth is under attack by Swarmers, a large insect-like race trying to conquer this part of the galaxy. Earth manages to send off three colony ships using random hyperjumps so that they can’t be followed. One of the colony ships reaches a planet (Darien) with a moon that also supports life, and both the planet and the moon are already populated by a short, furry race called the Uvovo, who take in the humans and help them survive. After 150 years of isolation, they are found by Earthsphere. Seems that shortly after the colony ships left, another alien empire (the Sendrukan Hegemony) came along, became allies of Earth, helped to defeat the Swarmers, and have been dominating Earth ever since. Seems there are lots of alien empires out there, and they are often at war, and the Hegemony is happy to use Earth troops in their wars. About the time the Earthsphere ship arrives, the colonists discover the remains of a Forerunner military installation that was critical in a major galactic war 100,000 years ago. Suddenly, the Hegemony and many other empires want to take Darien away from both the humans and the Uvovo and discover the Forerunner secrets.
        The three books are fast paced, fairly complex, with lots of interesting characters to remember, and a strange idea about hyperspace I’ve never seen before. The other two missing colonies also become part of the story. The story arc is completed at the end of the third book, but a new novel set in the same universe will be coming next January.

        I am a big fan of Eric Flint’s 1632 ($7.99) and most of the many sequels to it. But when Time Spike by Eric Flint and Marilyn Kosmatka ($7.99) came out in 2010, I didn’t realize that it tied in with 1632, so I didn’t get around to reading it until recently.
        Since the events described in 1632 took place, it seems that the U.S. government has been trying to cover up whatever happened, and many scientists have been quietly trying to find out the truth. When another major time displacement event takes place (sending an under-staffed maximum security prison from southern Illinois millions of years into the past, and sweeping up Indians from before the Europeans reached North America, some early Spanish explorers, and some Cherokees and U.S. troops from the Trail of Tears and sending them all to the same time period), we see both what’s going on in current times and back in the Cretaceous. This book can be read and enjoyed entirely on its own, but I think a lot of fans of 1632 will be particularly interested in it.

        I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of Robert J. Sawyer’s books over the years, but I recently got around to reading his WWW trilogy (WWW: Wake ($7.99), WWW: Watch ($7.99), and WWW:Wonder ($7.99)), and I enjoyed it more than any of his other works. An intelligent being evolves on the worldwide web, and is discovered by Caitlin, a sixteen year old girl in Canada who had been blind since birth until she received an experimental implant to convert the signal from her optic nerve into something that her brain can comprehend. The first experiment doesn’t show her what the outside world looks like, but rather shows her the worldwide web as no other human has ever seen it. Once she finds the intelligent being, she sets out to raise it, train it, and protect it from both the U.S. and Chinese governments’ efforts to harm it. Sawyer smoothly conveys large amounts of science without slowing down the plot, and the assortment of humans characters is interesting and well developed.

        I’m a big fan of Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series of urban fantasies, and she has announced that Revenant (#9, $7.99) is the last Greywalker book, at least for a while, as she tries her hand at some other projects. The earlier books in the series consist of Greywalker ($7.99), Poltergeist ($7.99), Underground ($7.99), Vanished ($7.99), Labyrinth ($7.99), Downpour ($7.99), Seawitch ($7.99), and Possession ($7.99), and they should be read in order.
        Harper Blaine was a small-time Seattle PI until she was briefly killed on a case. She was resuscitated within two minutes, but ever since then she has been a greywalker, able to step between the world of the living and the world of the dead (and all kinds of supernatural threats). This has led her to take some pretty strange cases. She also met and eventually took as a lover Quinton, a man with very different skills, on the run from his crazed father, a former CIA operative who is now trying to create paranormal tools to carry out his own deranged political plots.
        In Revenant, Harper follows Quinton to Portugal (with the help of a vampire/necromancer she has dealt with in Seattle in many earlier books, but who was originally from Portugal hundreds of years ago). An ancient cult has become an ally of Quinton’s father, but they have their own diabolical plans, even worse that Quinton’s father’s plans. If Harper and Quinton don’t foil the plans, millions of people will die.
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