Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lethal Seasons-Alice Sabo

Lethal Seasons
Alice Sabo
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Aug 6 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781500526627

In what afterward became known by survivors as Year Zero, a maniac released a virus leaving estimates of 40% of the world population dead and all governments unable to cope with a pandemic of that magnitude.  Every summer for the next decade since Year Zero, the virus returns with a new lethal strain to continue the devastation of humanity and the end of urban centers.

Nick, who lost his loved ones to the disease, travels what is left of the United States as a census counter.  When he finds two corpses who apparently killed each other; Nick would rejoice that there is one less mercenary causing havoc; but mourns for the other dead person since child bearing age and younger females are the most critical demographic if mankind is to survive.  His mission now is to find and rescue the deceased woman’s siblings while teams of marauders stalk these youngsters and his home High Meadow is under assault.

Mindful of the Kevin Costner movie The Postman, the first Changed World post-apocalyptic thriller is an exciting but grim novel as survival of the deadliest is the way of life (outside of High Meadow) since Year Zero.  Although the key cast is underdeveloped, Alice Sabo authors a twisting tense tale of an America (like the rest of the earth) continual out of control spiral deeper into the darkest era since recorded history began, but with tiny lights of hope like Nick.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time-Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark

Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time
Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark
David C. Cook, Sep 1 2014, $9.99
ISBN: 9780781411073

In Ireland, on his eleventh birthday Jack Staples is at the circus with his teenage brother Parker and their mother.  Ironically while a girl performs on a tightrope above lions and surrounded by a ring of fire, Jack is the only one in the audience distracted by a blackbird.  Suddenly all hell breaks loose inside the tent leaving Jack trapped by a spreading inferno while a terrifying voice demands he help destroy the Awakened.  His sibling and everyone else made it outside; they all assume Jack died except his mom who insists that The Child of Prophecy lives.  Inside, a lion dies saving Jack from the blaze by covering his body with his.

Most people have scales covering their eyes to keep them from seeing the evil that surrounds mankind; however Jack’s has fallen off so he now sees these horrors.  He and his BFF Arthur join the scales-off Awakened who include their elderly teacher Mrs. Dumphry and her former student Alexia AKA “Wild”.  Jack and Alexia learn both make up The Children of Prophecy; one will terminate and the other will resuscitate the Awakened.  When the Assassin attacks the town targeting the pair, they must learn under fire how to fight back.

Jack Staples (and Alexia) And The Ring Of Fire hooks readers from the opening act and never slows down in spite of rapid shifting focus.  The Christian good and evil fantasy is faster than DC’s Flash, as the pace never allows the tweener audience a respite.  Yet the first Staples story still insures that key players like the yin and yang Children of Prophecy and their teacher are fully developed. 

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Memory-Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold
Baen, Sep 2 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781476736730

On his last mission at Jackson's Whole, dwarfish secret agent Miles Vorkosigan died, but was frozen and resuscitated (see Mirror Dance).  Insisting he is fine, Miles returns to field work only to suffer a seizure that endangers others while on a combat foray.  Afterward he lies about what happened and especially his physical condition in the report he provides to his superior, Barrayaran Imperial Security Chief Simon Illyan.  Reacting as he must, Illyan fires Miles.

Devastated as his field work including being the Admiral of the Dendarii mercenaries has been his only reason to live; the depressed Vorkosigan considers an active response “to be or not to be”.  However, when Illyan’s 100% perfect recall memory chip begins to fail him, Miles convinces the desperate Emperor Gregor to name him the Imperial Auditor; as both understand the gravity of errors by the Chief of IMPSEC places the empire in peril.

Following up on the Hugo Award winning Mirror Dance, this reprint of Memory is a strong transitional entry as Vorkosigan begins a new career.  Character driven by the "failing" minds, bodies and emotions of the two heroes, readers will appreciate this powerful novel that showcases Lois McMaster Bujold’s skills as Miles finds a new relevancy answering “…that is the question.”

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sleeping Late On Judgment Day-Tad Williams

Sleeping Late On Judgment Day
Tad Williams
Daw, Sep 2 2014, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756408893

Known in the Bay Area as Bobby Dollar, the Angel Doloriel entered Hell to rescue his girlfriend Caz the Countess of the Cold Hands trapped there by her owner Eligor the Horseman.  The good is he escaped Hell; the bad is he failed to liberate his demon girlfriend (see Happy Hour in Hell); and the ugly is he has no idea what to attempt next.

Bobby’s friend Walter escapes Hell, but suffers amnesia.  His buddy’s memory loss concerns Bobby because when they met in Hell, Walter was trying to warn him that Heaven is not a sanctuary.  Soon after their reunion, Bobby faces a not so heavenly judgmental tribunal with his only chance of surviving being that damned feather he needs to either save his soul or rescue his beloved.

The third Bobby Dollar urban fantasy (see The Dirty Streets of Heaven) is a fabulous satire as this time the angel advocate learns first hand that Heaven and Hell are identical twins when it comes to incompetence, immorality and intolerance.  Sleeping Late On Judgment Day is a tremendous spoof.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dinosaurs & A Dirigible-David Drake

Dinosaurs & A Dirigible
David Drake
Baen, Sep 2 2014, $14.00
ISBN 9781476736839

This anthology contains reprints of the fun four Henry Vickers (first time together) time traveling dinosaur era hunter novellas (King Tyrant Lizard, Calibration Run, Time Safari and Boundary Layer) and a fifth fine but filler entry (Travelers) in which he does not appear in the dirigible.  The Vickers sagas take readers to the predatory prehistoric era as the safari guide learns first hand who The Most Dangerous Game (Richard Connell) in history is while hunting dinosaurs and in one case hominid.  The non-Vickers addition occurs in 1897 when two teen Travellers have adventures crossing the United States in an airship captained by a seemingly eccentric genius.  Dinosaurs & A Dirigible is a delightful read.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fortunes of the Imperium-Jody Lynn Nye

Fortunes of the Imperium
Jody Lynn Nye
Baen, Sep 2 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9781476736723

In Taino, after losing his driver’s license due to accepting a foolish dare from his cousin, Core Worlds Lieutenant Lord Thomas Innes Loche Kinago learns from his aide-de-camp Commander Parsons that his irate mother has a special punishment for his shaming the dignity of the fleet.  Thus Thomas prepares for a diplomatic mission into the Autocracy of the Uctu sector where he is to learn why shippers are being held and delayed in that region.  However, his hidden agenda is to end the smuggling of contraband including weapons into Uctu space; as nine vessels recently were caught with illegal shipments.

To Thomas’ dismay, his cousin Jil joins him due to personal reasons involving a need to leave Taino for a while.  When Thomas and Visoltia the Autocrat meet, she likes the Core World officer for his upbeat energy and kindness, and amused by his ego greater than Uctu space; he is not the usual simpering diplomat she typically encounters.  Still as is his personality, Thomas distracts easily; leaving it to Parsons to keep him as usual focused on the mission; especially since most likely someone high up in the Autocracy runs the smuggling gamut.

The latest amusing Imperium science fiction (see The View From The Imperium) is a lighthearted outer space adventure due to the Jeeves-Wooster hyperbolic characterizations of the lead pair as they struggle with understanding an alien sentient lizard populace.  Although the storyline remains a one act joke with too much sidebar focus on Thomas’ latest distraction, this jocular novel is fun due to the antics of this aristocratic superego playing the roles of diplomat and undercover agent.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Winter Long-Seanan McGuire

The Winter Long
Seanan McGuire
Daw, Sep 2 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756408084

In Muir Woods, King of Cats Tybalt coaxes Sir Toby Daye to attend the first kingdom-wide Yule Ball since Gilead’s murder.  Adhering to protocol, Toby pays her respect to her liege Duke Sylvester Torquil. 

After Toby and the gang return to San Francisco, Sylvester rings the door of her Victorian.  Only after she allows her surprising visitor to enter does Toby realize her guest is not her liege as Sylvester smells like dogwood flower and daffodil while his lookalike’s odor is that of smoke and rotten oranges.  Her personal bogeyman Simon has returned stunning her with his claim to have saved October’s life when he changed her into a fish.  Astonished by this revelation and other Simon assertions, Toby relooks at what she believed were indisputable facts.

The latest October Daye urban fantasy is a stunner as Seanan McGuire shakes up her universe with a Big Bang that takes us fans and the heroine out of our comfort zones after seven previous entries (see Ashes of Honor and Chimes at Midnight).  The shocked Daye obsessively soul searches needing to believe as John said: “…the truth will set you free” but hopes not by killing her or driving her insane.  This is a fantastic spin to a fabulous saga.

Harriet Klausner