Backlist Burndown: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Backlist Burndown

As a book blogger, sometimes I get so busy reading review titles and new releases that I end up missing out on a lot previously published books, so one of my goals for this year is to take more time to catch up with the backlist, especially in my personal reading pile. And it seems I’m not the only one! Backlist Burndown is a new meme started by Lisa of Tenacious Reader. Every last Friday of the month, she’ll be posting a review of a backlist book and is inviting anyone interested to do the same. Of course, you can also review backlist books any day you want, as often you want, but be sure to watch for her post at the end of the month to link up!

For this month’s Backlist Burndown, I’m reviewing…

Dark EdenDark Eden by Chris Beckett

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of Dark Eden

Publisher: Broadway (April 1, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Something tells me Dark Eden isn’t the kind of book you can take at face value; I have a feeling it could spawn a dozen papers on sociology and human psychology if you were inclined to analyze it. Heck, I’m sitting here writing a monster of a review for it myself. The book takes place in the far-flung future on an alien planet, but simply labeling it science fiction misses out on a lot of its themes too. In some ways, it’s almost like a hypothetical social experiment, exploring the possible outcomes if a society were to emerge on its own, completely cut off and free of influences from the rest of humankind.

Continue reading Backlist Burndown: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Book Review: The A.I. Chronicles by Ellen Campbell

AICThe A.I. Chronicles by Ellen Campbell (editor)

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Windrift Books (March 13, 2015)

Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

 

The A.I. Chronicles houses a collection of short stories by many emerging and best-selling names that take on the concept of the artificial intelligence from military based stories to stories that feature hybrids of machine/machine or man/machine to stories that are more quizzical in nature about what it means to be alive. I would love to talk about every story in this book, but if you regularly read my reviews, you’ll find that I am long-winded enough. I can’t say that every story in this book is a winner. That can be said of any anthology of stories, though, but there are a very good crop of stories in this book.

I love science fiction, which I wrote a very public love letter to for Fantasy Cafe’s Women in SF&F Month, especially science fiction where artificial intelligence factors in heavily. I’d learned about this book about three months prior to its release and read it as soon as I could make the time for it between an already busy reading schedule.

The A.I. is probably arguably one of the more interesting subsets of science fiction because it poses a psychological and philosophical question to human beings, summed up well by one of my favorite robot/A.I. hybrids (okay, more of a gestalt consciousness type awareness), Legion, from the Mass Effect gaming series: “Does this unit have a soul?”

That simple question bundles a whole multitude of other questions inside those few words, including the definition of how “self” is defined, the idea of murder being limited only to biological beings, and of course, the ever present threat of a self-aware machine becoming the god of its own creators and how our limitations may be perceived as usefulness/uselessness. In turn, these questions are explored in media such as Mass Effect and films, such as this short film called Abe, featuring a robot programmed to love (warning: this is not a happy film at all and falls over into the territory of horror):

Did this book satisfy my interest in the subject?

Continue reading Book Review: The A.I. Chronicles by Ellen Campbell

Tough Traveling: The Ace

3bfd8-toughtraveling

The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information.

This week’s tour topic is: The Ace

Some people are just ridiculously good at everything. Be it magic, swordplay, or all of the above. THE ACE has no equal.

Mogsy’s Picks:

Best

traitor's bladeTraitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Falcio val Mond’s talents may lie in his silver tongue, but his two companions are the ones who are the master fighters. Brasti’s skill with the bow and arrow are unequaled, and Kest is the best swordsman in the land, and even claims the title of Saint of Swords.

The City Stained RedThe City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

Dreadaeleon may be young, but he’s an ace wizard.  He also has a hard time taking advice from others and can sometimes be an arrogant jerk. What can you expect though, from a kid who knows he’s the best at what he does, which includes channeling lightning and hurling fireballs.

the warded manThe Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett

Arlen is just good at everything. It was he who ventured out into the desert and uncovered the old relics and wards that people long thought were lost. It was he who came up with the idea to tattoo himself with those wards, making himself virtually indestructible. And after deciding to munch down on a demon, the “misting” ability and other powers he gains makes him the best coreling hunter around.

s-typeopts13Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

Hadrian Blackwater was raised by his father, a blacksmith and a Teshlor Knight. He was trained to follow the code and to fight in the style of the ancient order, After several stints as a mercenary in various armies and becoming a renowned pit fighter, his reputation as the greatest swordsman became firmly established.

cce1d-bloodandironBlood and Iron by Jon Sprunk

Horace is shipwrecked and washes up on the shores of Akeshia , where is is promptly pressed into service as a house slave. But then it turns out Horace is a latent sorcerer, which vaults him to the top of the royal court food chain. Never mind that he just discovered his power like, yesterday, or that his there’s not even magic where he came from, Horace is already a better mage than everybody else, even those who have been training since childhood.

The Phantom MenaceThe Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks

“I’m the only human who can do it!” A sharp glance from his mother wiped the grin from his face. “Mom, what? I’m not bragging. It’s true! Watto says he’s never heard of a human doing it.”

Oh, STFU Anakin. Yes, we all know you’re the best podracer, and that you’ll grow up to be the best starfighter pilot the galaxy has ever seen. But you’re still an annoying little snot.

 Wendy’s Picks

Mogsy beat me to the Wolverine reference, so I’ll offer this X-Man instead, who even comes with his very own aces!

Gambit

princess of mars (barsoom)A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

John Carter is awesome at everything he does. How do I know this? Because John Carter says it is so. When he gets to Mars, his earth-based biology makes him even awesomer. Look out Martians, John Carter is here to be awesome. For you.

throne of glassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Adarlan’s Assassin might be the king’s slave at the start of this book, but she’s far from down for the count. As Celaena makes her way through this series, she just keeps getting better and better at everything she does.

hallowed huntThe Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold

Ingray is the one people call on to get the job done, whether it be escorting a condemned woman to her trial, or releasing long dead soldiers from their ghostly prison. His demeanor leaves something to be desired, but we’re not inviting him to social parties now, are we. If Ingray is summoned, it’s because we want him to let the wolf out.

the last wish the witcherThe Last Wish by  Andrzej Sapkowski

It takes a monster to fight a monster, and when towns have trouble with the former, a witcher is what they need. Geralt of Rivia is the witcher that other witchers look up to. You just better make sure you have the orens to pay him for his work. Witchin’ ain’t easy.

And finally, no one of consequence:

Tiara’s Picks

Comic book characters embody this trope more than anyone for me, so my list is doing some things. Please enjoy this musical tribute (not made by me and is also not the music from the comic Deadpool the Musical) of my favorite overpowered comic book character, Deadpool.

 

DisenchantedBoric the Implacable (Disenchanted by Robert Kroese) – Expert swordsman. Expert tactician. Troll slayer. Dragon hunter. Handsome as hell… until that whole death thing happened and turned him into a wraith. All around badass who turned into a bigger badass even after he died, if such a thing is possible. Badass.

the stolen throne dragon ageFlemeth (Dragon Age by BioWare) – She’s in the novels, so it totally counts. Flemeth’s magic is the stuff of legends in the game, comics, and novel. Since I met her in the first game and subsequently read about her, she’s always been a magical character I liked and knew was totally overpowered FOR THE GODS. I mean, she can turn into a  dragon. My mage in game wanted to learn this trick from her for reasons she need not disclose at this time. She literally tells every other magical character in the Dragon Age universe, “Get on my level.” After this last Dragon Age game, we now know why Flemeth is such a magical genius.

 

Dr StrangeDr. Strange (Dr. Strange by Marvel Comics) –  If you’re ever in a comic book jam in the Marvel Universe, it’s time to call Stephen Strange and his object conjuring, time-warping, transmutating, bolt slinging God Tier magic. Dr. Strange has more titles than a college professor. Not only is he Sorcerer Supreme. He’s also a neurosurgeon. He’s in more clubs devoted to the magical arts than any other fictional being ever. This dude is even in the Illuminati. I mean, who can stop  him? What can’t he do with magic? No, seriously, what can’t Dr. Strange do?

itsmagic

BR12Kazuo Kiriyama (Battle Royale by Koushun Takami) – Boy #6. Kazuo is a lethal weapon. Martial arts, he’s perfected that. Sword-wielding, he’s perfected that. Gunplay, he’s perfected that. Smarts, got those, too. Being the perfect psycho capable of killing a fair chunk of his classmates without remorse in Takami’s dystopian novel/manga/movie Battle Royale? Yeah, he’s got that, too. He took #1 spot for number of kills. There can only be one king.

20150419_210542

Kazuo

BRMitsuko Souma (Battle Royale by Koushun Takami) – Girl #11. I can’t mention Kiriyama without mentioning the female counterpart. She doesn’t work with Kiriyama, but she certainly earns her place alongside him. However, she’s given a more carefully crafted back story than Kiriyama to explain her behavior (and really, what the hell on his back story in the novel and manga?). She’s a scrapper, but her best asset is being the perfect seductress hiding her hand behind her back.  (And yes, these two meet in the final fight for one of them.) She took the #2 spot for most kills. The queen is dead; long live the queen.

Mitsuko2

Mitsuko1

Waiting on Wednesday 04/22/15

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that lets us feature upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick:

A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca: July 7, 2015 (DAW)

When I first saw this, I thought it was the sequel to The Thorn of Dentonhill. On closer inspection, it actually appears to be a companion series, called the novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, set in the same world but different neighborhood of the city and also starring different characters. Since one of the things I liked most about The Thorn of Dentonhill was the setting and its world building, I’m thrilled that Marshall Ryan Maresca is expanding it, though with two Maradaine series going, I imagine he’s going to be quite busy!

A Murder of Mages“A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.”

Book Review: The Gabble and Other Stories by Neal Asher

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The GabbleThe Gabble and Other Stories by Neal Asher

Genre: Science Fiction, Anthology

Series: Polity

Publisher: Night Shade (Paperback: February 3, 2015)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars (overall)

The Gabble and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction set in the universe of the Polity series by Neal Asher. I’ve been curious about his books for a long time now, especially since his work has been described as being close to Splatterpunk, a sub-genre often characterized by its depiction of gory graphic violence, fast-paced action, and a tendency to push the boundaries especially in horror-themed sci-fi.

I was not disappointed! Indeed, The Gabble ended up being a lot of fun and I enjoyed a lot of the stories in here. Being an anthology, I also went with the assumption that this book would work well as a stand-alone read, and thus a good place to jump on board. I think for the most part my instinct was correct, though I do have more to add to this. I will go into the details below in my in-depth analysis of each story, but I did notice a couple trends in my overall experience:

1) My favorite stories tended to be shorter ones, while the longer novelettes are perhaps too steeped in the Polity lore for me to get into as easily.

2) If the main focus of a story is aliens or alien culture, there’s a good chance I loved it!

Continue reading Book Review: The Gabble and Other Stories by Neal Asher

Teaser Tuesday & Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

TeaserTuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Tiara’s Teaser

QuicksilverPage 47: "To be a European Christian (the rest of the world be forgiven for thinking) was to build ships and sail them to any and all coasts not already a-bristle with cannons, make landfall at river's mouth, kiss dirt, plant a cross on a flag, scare the hell out of any indigenes with a musketry demo and--having come so far, and suffered and risked so much--unpack a shallow basin and scoop up some muck from the river bottom."
Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver

 

toptentues

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. They created the meme because they love lists. Who doesn’t love lists? They wanted to share these list with fellow booklovers and ask that we share in return to connect with our fellow book lovers. To learn more about participating in the challenge, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!

This week’s topic: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Tiara’s Picks

I love so many authors that it’s literally impossible for me to choose ten definitively, so I just kind of tossed some authors I love into a randomizer, and this is what I got. These are not in any order, and these barely even touch the tip of the iceberg of my favorite authors. So, I’ll just add a couple of my (current since this always subject to change) favorite books by them. Not all speculative, but many of these stories could fall into the realm of magical realism as well (such as Marquez’s Of Love and Other Demons). Click on the covers to be taken to their Goodreads pages.

Toni Morrison
Sula TBE

 

 

 

 

Ursula K. Le Guin
Gifts Omelas lathe

 

 

 

 

Greg Rucka
Cry For Blood Gotham Central 1 Hiketeia

 

 

 

 

Neil Gaiman
7643b-americangods The Sandman 1

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Garcí­a Marquez
Cholera Of Love

 

 

 

 

Brian K. Vaughan
Saga 3 YTLM 1

 

 

 

 

Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion Paladin of Souls

 

 

 

 

E. Lynn Harris
Invisible Life

 

 

 

 

Robert Buettner
Overkill

 

 

 

 

Isabel Allende
Ines Island

 

 

 

 

And I think that’s the best I can do with this meme for the week. tiara

Cover Reveal: Binary by Stephanie Saulter

I’ve always enjoyed the minimalist UK cover designs of the ®Evolution books by Stephanie Saulter, but GOOD GOD the US versions are just STUNNING. My jaw dropped last year when Quercus showed off the US cover of Gemsigns and now I find myself floored again when they shared with me the US edition of the sequel, Binary.

I’m very pleased to participate in the reveal today. With its poignant commentary on society and incredible insight into what it means to be human, Gemsigns was one of the top sci-fi novels I read last year. Binary promises to be all that and more, and this cover is actually an allusion to my most absolute favorite scene from the first book — but that’s all I’ll say about that, no spoiling the best part!

Here’s the cover, tell me your thoughts!

BINARY resized

Zavcka Klist is no longer the ruthless gemtech enforcer determined to keep the gems enslaved she once was. She’s now all about transparency and sharing the fruits of Bel’Natur’s research to help gems and norms alike.

Or is she?

Neither Aryel Morningstar nor Dr. Eli Walker are convinced by this change, but the gems have problems that only a gemtech can solve. In exchange for their help, digital savant Herran agrees to work on Klist’s latest project: reviving the science that drove mankind to the brink of extinction.

Then confiscated genestock disappears from a secure government facility, and the more Detective Varsi investigates, the closer she comes to the dark heart of Bel’Natur and what Zavcka Klist is really after—not to mention the secrets of Aryel Morningstar’s own past.

It’s a powerful cover. Personally I love the eye-catching color theme (you really can’t go wrong with yellow, if you want something to jump out at your from the shelf). Can’t wait to read it. Binary is set to be released May 5, 2015 in the US.

A Book Blog for Speculative Fiction, Graphic Novels… and more!

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