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May 2, 2010

Autonomy (Doctor Who: New Series Book 035) by Daniel Blythe

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 4:20 PM

Autonomy (Doctor Who: New Series Book 035)
by Daniel Blythe


Hyperville is 2013’s top hi-tech, 24-hour entertainment complex – a sprawling palace of fun under one massive roof. You can go shopping, or experience the excitement of Doomcastle, Winterland, or Wild West World. But things are about to get a lot more exciting – and dangerous! What unspeakable horror is lurking on Level Zero of Hyperville? And what will happen when the entire complex goes over to Central Computer Control?

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Review:Autonomy is the 35th Book in the New Doctor series which is basically Doctor Who from 2005 onwards. It features the 10th Doctor played by David Tennant.

The Doctor lands on earth in 2013 and finds himself in Hyperville a gigantic 24 hour entertainment complex which is being taken over by the Nestene Consciousness.

The plot of the book started off as pretty interesting but the story development was a bit shaky and a lot of the solutions to the problems used in the book were a bit too pat and felt contrived. Plus most of the characters were not very well developed and felt quite two dimensional.

This is one of the few Doctor Who books that I didn’t finish in one sitting. It took me three attempts to finish the book.

Final Recommendation: An OK book for when you don’t have anything else to read.

April 25, 2010

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04) by David Weber

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 11:51 PM

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04)
by David Weber


Young Cayleb Ahrmahk has accomplished things few people could even dream of. Not yet even thirty years old, he’s won the most crushing naval victories in human history. He’s smashed a hostile alliance of no less than five princedoms and won the hand of the beautiful young Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. Cayleb and Sharleyan have created the Charisian Empire, the greatest naval power in the history of Safehold, and they’ve turned Charis into a place of refuge for all who treasure freedom.

Their success may prove short-lived. The Church of God Awaiting, which controls most of Safehold, has decreed their destruction. Mother Church’s entire purpose is to prevent the very things to which Charis is committed. Since the first attempt to crush the heretics failed, the Church has no choice but to adopt some of the hated Charisian innovations for themselves. Soon a mighty fleet will sail against Cayleb, destroying everything in its path.

But there are still matters about which the Church knows nothing, including Cayleb and Sharleyan’s adviser, friend, and guardian’ the mystic warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes. Merlin knows all about battles against impossible odds, because he is in fact the cybernetic avatar of a young woman named Nimue Alban, who died a thousand years before. As Nimue, Merlin saw the entire Terran Federation go down in fire and slaughter at the hands of a foe it could not defeat. He knows that Safehold is the last human planet in existence, and that the stasis the Church was created to enforce will be the human race’s death sentence if it is allowed to stand.

The juggernaut is rumbling down on Charis, but Merlin Athrawes and a handful of extraordinary human beings stand in its path. The Church is about to discover just how potent the power of human freedom truly is.

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Review:The 4th book in the Safehold series continues the tale of Charis’ war with the Mother Church. Now that the initial quick battles are done both sides settle down for a long war with each other and set about preparing for it.

There are a lot of naval battles in the book and Weber shows his expertise in sailing in his depictions of naval battles. Although all the sailing terms does get a bit confusing for someone who doesn’t know a lot about sailing (like me) but if you know sailing then the battles will sound very realistic to you. I personaly ended up skimming through some of the longer battle sequences where a lot of technical terms were thrown around but that’s just me.

A couple of things irritated/bugged me about the book/series, they are mostly minor things still…

In the book they call a week Five-days instead of a week. Once or twice is ok but when you keep seeing it over and over especially when you are expecting to read ‘week’ it gets annoying. e.g. They would say something like: ‘It will take us about a month to do this or 8 five-days at the worst’. More than anything else it jars you out of the narrative. There is not a lot Weber can do in this series as the world is set but its something he should keep in mind for the next series.

The other issue I have is his tendency to switch between the name and title of a person in the same narrative. i.e. In the first line of a paragraph he would use the title of a person (like Rock Point) to adress them and a couple of lines later would address then with their first name or last name. Its understandable when a character uses a first name but when its done as part of the narrative it gets confusing. This is a trend I have seen in most of his novels including the Harrington series.

The book does a great job of going over previous events when needed so I didn’t have to go back to the previous books to figure out what happened when. Which is a rare trait in authors. I love the way he explains the finer points of a particular issue or a theorem by making the characters explain it to each other or in a flashback without sounding forced or stilted.

Final recommendation: A great novel. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.

April 14, 2010

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 9:14 PM

Inside Out
by Maria V. Snyder


Keep Your Head Down. Don’t Get Noticed. Or Else.

I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. One of thousands who work in the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. The Trava family who rules our world from their spacious Upper levels wants us to be docile and obedient, like sheep. To insure we behave, they send the Pop Cops to police us.

So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? Not like it’s all that dangerous–the only neck at risk is my own.

Until a lower level prophet claims a Gateway to Outside exists. And guess who he wants to steal into the Upper levels to get the proof? You’re right. Me. I alone know every single duct, pipe, corridor, shortcut, hole and ladder of Inside. It’s suicide plain and simple. But guess who can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered? Right again. Me.

I should have just said no…

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Inside Out is a different kind of book when compared to the other books written by Snyder. The book starts off a bit suddenly where you wonder what is happening but slowly the environment in with the book is based is revealed.

Thankfully it doesn’t take too long for the world to be established because that would have just put off readers on the other hand its long enough that we don’t feel rushed and the world doesn’t sound half-baked.

The book follows the life of Trella who is a scrub. Basically a person who is cleans the pipes and vents in ‘Inside’. She is a very self-centered person in the beginning of the book where she gives the impression that she thinks the other Scrubs are beneath her. But as the plot progresses she starts realizing that there are other things in life that are also important.

What I like about the book was the way it showed how things/knowledge can get lost over a period of time and how some people take advantage of the fact. Can’t really tell more about this without spoilers so…

Final Recommendation: An awesome read. Highly recommended, especially for children and teens.

April 11, 2010

The Taking of Chelsea 426 (Doctor Who New Series Book 034) by David Llewellyn

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 8:22 PM

The Taking of Chelsea 426 (Doctor Who New Series Book 034)
by David Llewellyn


The Chelsea Flower Show – Hardly the most exciting or dangerous event in the calendar, or so the Doctor thinks. But this is Chelsea 426, a city-sized future colony floating on the clouds of Saturn, and the flowers are much more than they seem. As the Doctor investigates, he becomes more and more worried. Why is shopkeeper Mr Pemberton acting so strangely? And what is Professor Wilberforce’s terrible secret? They are close to finding the answers when a familiar foe arrives, and the stakes suddenly get much higher. The Sontarans have plans of their own, and they’re not here to arrange flowers…

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This is the 34th book in the New Doctor Who book series that follows the adventures of the 10th Doctor. The book is based in a time period after he had left Donna but before he regenerated to the 11th Doctor. Liked the book, It was a light read (only took about 2 hours to finish). In the book you can see that the Doctor is starting to miss having a companion but is still not ready for a new one. The Sontaran’s are not portrayed as the usual brain dead people for whom the solution for everything is increasing the amount of force applied. This time their Intelligence division is incharge instead of the Battle Fleet so instead of destroying everything immediately they try to gain intelligence and learn more about their enemy’s plans. Final Recommendation: A good read but not something I will be reading over and over again

April 1, 2010

Shedding Light by Michael Edelson

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 11:35 PM

Shedding Light
by Michael Edelson


A combination of faster-than-light travel and an energy field telescope made it possible: outrun the light leaving the Earth and gaze back in time. For US Navy Commander Jack Roberts, it is the opportunity of a lifetime. Chosen as a last minute replacement, all he has to do is get the ship and its crew home in one piece and a promising career in space travel is his for the taking. But when the expedition is plagued with inexplicable and unlikely failures, the captain and crew suspect sabotage. The motive seems obvious, as the ability to look back in time raises a question that could undermine the faith of billions; did God really create the world? For the first time in history that question can be answered, assuming Jack can find the saboteur before he or she destroys the ship and kills them all.


Edit (11th May 2010): Michael Edelson pointed out to me in an email that this was infact novella and not a novel, which was the impression I was under when I reviewed the book initially. Taking that into account I have changed the rating that I gave to the book from a 3 to a 6 and written a new review of the book

Updated Review: This novella was a quick read and doesn’t contain a heavy plot. The concept of the book was pretty amazing, basically there is a group on people on an experimental spaceship that allows them to travel faster than light and they use it to travel to different points in space so that they can see earth as it was at different points in time. During their journey they find a saboteur on board. As I pointed out in my original review most of the characters in the book were two dimensional including the hero and the bad guys. In my opinion the author should have removed some of the plot twists and used the space gained by that to expand the characterization a bit and give more details on the remaining plot items. Personally I think that he should consider expanding this into a full length novel as that would be very cool.

Original Review:

This book was a quick read and doesn’t contain a heavy plot. Actually it read more like an outline for a book than the actual book. The concept of the book was pretty amazing, basically there is a group on people on an experimental spaceship that allows them to travel faster than light and they use it to travel to different points in space so that they can see earth as it was at different points in time. During their journey they find a saboteur on board. However even though the concept was amazing the implementation was quite bad. All the characters were pretty two dimensional including the hero and the bad guys. To make it a better read the author should expand the story and add a lot more detail to the book. Final recommendation: Only read it if you don’t have anything else to read.

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