Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep cover

I finally got around to reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? And although I had no idea what to expect going in, it was still nothing like what I expected.

Rick Deckard is a police bounty hunter, “retiring” escaped androids that pose a vague threat to Earth’s remaining human population. His world is dull and grey, full of despair and the detritus of human lives long gone. Nuclear war has made much of Earth uninhabitable, causing freak mutations and decimating animal populations. Most humans eligible to immigrate to off-world colonies have done so.

While this premise might sound dark, gritty, thrilling, and potentially action packed, –spoiler– this novel is not.

Continue reading “Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

Dredd 2012 - Judgement is Coming

For the purpose of disambiguation, this review is of Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as trainee Judge Anderson.

When Dredd and Anderson respond to a grisly triple homicide in the high rise mega slum of Peach Trees, they have no idea that they’re walking into the heart of a ruthless criminal’s base of operations. Ex-prostitute Ma-Ma (played excellently by Lena Headey) is the kingpin of a cartel that has risen to supremacy through a brutal combination of extreme violence and drug trafficking. The drug in question is Slo-Mo, a substance which slows the user’s perception of reality to 1% normal speed.

I’ll admit I didn’t have high expectations for this film. I’m not a huge fan of Karl Urban, and I had suspicions that Judge Anderson would be, as happens all too often to female action leads, little more than eye candy. The prominent place of Slo-Mo in the trailers gave me flashbacks to the heavy-handed drug propaganda of the 80s and 90s.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Dredd surprised the hell out of me. It was really good.

Continue reading “Review: Dredd”

Cover of Redemption of Sisyphus by Eric Michael Craig

In the thrilling conclusion to Eric Michael Craig’s solar system-spanning Shan Takhu Legacy series, the fearless crew of the ice-harvesting research vessel Jakob Waltz, the remnants of the Human Union, and the rebels of Fleet Cartel battle an AI bent on saving the human race from itself by any means necessary.

The AI Odysseus proves to be a Pandora’s box of nasty tricks, and it possesses nothing that could even remotely be called a conscience. Powered by a “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet” style of damage control –where the eggs are human lives– Odysseus works to extend its control to the edges of the solar system and eliminate anyone that could possibly be considered a threat to its power.

After all, it’s hard to protect humanity with all these pesky humans standing in its way.

Fortunately, in addition to the motley group of heroes and leaders we’ve come to know and love over the course of this series, there’s also a couple of pro-human AIs, a crew of upgraded humans, and a treasure-trove of mysterious alien technology on the heroes’ side.

Put all of these elements together, and the result is a grimly prophetic thrill ride peppered with seat-of-your-pants skirmishes and dark discoveries. Redemption of Sisyphus is a multi-fronted three-dimensional chess match against a malignant artificial intelligence able to infect almost any automated system, and capable of some deeply chilling meatspace tricks as well. The final installment of this series kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

I don’t review more than the first book of a series very often, and that’s due to the fact that beyond book one it gets successively harder to write a decent review without revealing potential spoilers. Hopefully I’ve managed to walk that fine line between being too generic and revealing too much about the plot for new readers. Whether you love this review or hate it, let me know in the comments.

If it sounds like something you want to read, Redemption of Sisyphus is available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. New to the series? Start with Legacy of Pandora, and check out my review here.

storm and rocks in the North Pacific

Steely grey swells rolled under leaden skies as Danny steered the skiff around the tip of Dog-Ear Point. He released the throttle and let the craft glide to a stop beside the faded plastic buoy that marked one of his family’s few remaining crab pots. Ava snagged the chain with her boat hook, and together she and Cam hoisted the pot into the skiff.

“Empty,” Cam spat. “Munchers even took the bait.”

“We’ll reset it after the storm passes.” Danny chose not to comment on the fact that it was their tenth and final empty pot of the day. If they didn’t get lucky in the tide pools, none of them would be having dinner.

Continue reading “Between A Rock & A Storm”

Blood & Bluegrass

Author’s note: Blood and Bluegrass takes place immediately after the events of The Moon Buck. If you haven’t already, take a moment to give the previous story a read!

The tracks were the same.

Annabelle stared at the impressions in the muddy leaf mold, ears ringing from a sudden surge of adrenaline.

The story was there, trampled by the searchers that found her sweetheart’s body, the coroner, sheriff, and crime scene investigators.

Jeremiah’s tracks picked their way through the brush from the road. He’d staggered mid-step and fallen to his knees, his boots cutting gouges in the dirt. A larger set of tracks followed his, superimposed over his prints in a few places but the same age. The tread on the second set of boots was chunky, size fourteen, and brand new. Their owner was standing right behind her, calling her name.

A little while back someone asked me why I post artwork of dead astronauts. (For the purposes of disambiguation, I’m talking about artwork like this, this, and this.)

There’s something both chilling and deeply saddening about these images. I don’t post that much art that involves zombies or dead bodies– zombies and gore for the sake of gore fail to make me feel much of anything. Dead astronauts and cosmonauts are a different story.

Continue reading “Spaceflight & The Death of Heroes”

Cover of Fulcrum of Odysseus by Eric Michael Craig

The discoveries made by the crew of the Jakob Waltz in the cold darkness of the outer solar system have set off a catastrophic chain of events, fatally destabilizing the fragile balance of power among the factions of the Human Union. Worse, they’ve inadvertently activated a doomsday failsafe created to protect humanity in the event of contact with an extrasolar entity.

Former FleetCartel Chancellor Katryna Roja and her allies are on the run, the crew of the Waltz is struggling to make the best of an increasingly ugly situation, and it’s beginning to look like humanity will be far worse off under the control of the omnipotent and all-encompassing AI known as Odysseus than they were under the Human Union. More calculating than the greatest chess master, able to infiltrate and manipulate virtually any system, Odysseus swiftly proves itself to be a cold, calculating, and ultimately ominous entity.

The artefact encountered by the intrepid crew of the Jakob Waltz isn’t without its own mysteries and perils either. Just as Odysseus at first seemed benignly helpful, the Tacra Un proves to be at times disturbingly unconcerned with the well-being and ongoing survival of its unwilling inhabitants.

If you enjoyed the hard science, intrigue, and interstellar action of Star Trek and felt that Skynet wasn’t far-reaching or threatening enough, then Fulcrum of Odysseus is definitely for you! It’s a riveting read and I greatly enjoyed it. Honorable mentions are also in order for the slang spoken by the residents of Tsiolkovskiy Freeport East (very nicely done!) and the introduction of genetically modified and upgraded humans. This is one of those rare series where the second book is even better than the first.

Sound interesting? Fulcrum of Odysseus is available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. New to the series? Start with Legacy of Pandora, and check out my review here.

Cover of Soul Jacker by Michael John Grist

Michael John Grist’s Soul Jacker is easily one of the most unusual and thought-provoking cyberpunk novels out there. This book is up there with the classics of the genre in terms of style, narrative voice, and introduction of new concepts.

Grist has built a world that is strange and fascinating both inside and out: memories are injectable, mind bombs can disrupt and destroy thousands of minds without leaving a physical trace, and we’ve honed hacking the human mind down to a fine (if dangerous) art.

Ritry Goligh is one such hacker, or Soul Jacker, a former marine left adrift by the end of the war he was created for. He’s a hard individual who’s made a lot of sacrifices in order to survive, but he isn’t a bad guy. Despite picking up the pieces of a psyche shattered by trauma multiple times throughout his life, he never quite succumbs to the darkness. I found myself really liking that about him. He’s a hero, if nothing else than because he refused to become a monster like those that surrounded him. In an ugly world, refusing to give in to cruelty is an act of rebellion.

Grist gives the reader plenty of demons to hate, though, (or cheer for, if that’s your thing.) This is a narrative that pulls no punches, and gory is an understatement for much of the action. We plumb the depths of a world ravaged by fuel wars and rising sea levels, as well as the depths of Ritry’s oft-broken-and-rehealed mind– a labyrinthine maze of hidden memories and missing pieces, hidden behind steel walls of protective scar tissue and stalked by monsters. And then of course there are the traps laid by the enigmatic character known as Mr. Ruin.

Soul Jacker is a wilder ride than I ever expected when I picked it up, full of dizzying highs and sickening lows that I found oddly satisfying. This is a novel that will thrill you, horrify you, and make you think about where we’re going. I loved it, and I think you will too.

Sound interesting? Soul Jacker is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. I highly recommend it!

Moon Buck

It felt like Jimmy’d walked up and punched him in the back. Jeremiah staggered forward, the sound of the gunshot ringing in his ears as a fine spray of blood erupted from his chest. His legs went weak. Glancing back toward the truck, he saw Jimmy lowering the hunting rifle from his shoulder.

“Why?” he whispered. Jimmy didn’t seem to hear him.

Ahead, though the moonlit clearing where they’d been stalking deer, the shadow of a massive buck raised its head. Strangely it hadn’t bolted at the sound of the shot. Footsteps crunched across dead leaves, and then Jimmy stood over him, face impassive.

Continue reading “The Moon Buck”

The Red Wind of an Alien World

The wind wailed through the remains of the outpost, burying corroded machinery in a shifting tide of fine red silt.

“This is pointless,” Lyndie said, not for the first time, from the right seat of the lander. “You think there’s going to be anything salvageable left in there?” He waved a scarred hand at a cavernous hole in the side of one of the derelict hangars.

“With that asteroid field up there? I think so,” Neff grunted back. “I don’t see many scavengers risking their lives for the chance at the scrap from an outpost this small.”

Lyndie snorted. “We did. And scrap? More like battery packs. Weapons. Field generators. Maybe even antigrav flyers. Just look at the size of those buildings. This wasn’t no farmers’ outpost!”

“Exactly,” Neff growled, piloting the battered craft to a gentle touchdown on a field of silt. “Good stuff. Stuff we need.”

“Think we’re the only ones to have that idea?” his copilot shot back. “Either everything good is long gone, or it’s booby-trapped. Remember Prima-5-Centauri? The FCP doesn’t leave their outposts for looters.”

“Who says its a FCP post?” Neff grumbled as he pulled on his helmet and locked its seal to the collar ring of his EVE suit.

“Oh, great. Alien tech. I feel so much better.” Lyndie’s sarcasm was apparent even over the radio connection afforded by the sealed extra-vehicular exploration suits.

“Could be some exploration firm’s abandoned field station. Quadrant’s littered with ‘em.” Neff pulled his rifle from the charging station and popped the hatch.

Continue reading “Wind of an Alien World”