Category: Science Fiction
Melding hard-boiled noir with a post-Facebook breach world is a brilliant idea. When nothing is private, the world’s only choice is to turn to Analog Volume 1.
In 2023, Jack is a Ledger Man, a paper jockey hired to move confidential papers from place to place. He also literally broke the Internet. Now people have no privacy at all. Many welcome the all access. For those that don’t, Jack is hired.
The government wants to break up Jack’s monopoly on confidentiality. “Aunt Sam” uses Jack’s loved ones to coerce him to breach his clients’ documents. An old enemy returns forcing Jack to retreat. Jack is in hiding but not for long…
Analog Volume 1 has excellent worldbuilding. The art is suitably dark. I just wish that the characters were more fleshed out. I’m unclear about the back stories and underlying motivations of all three main characters: Jack, his father and Oona, Jack’s girlfriend. I also expected more sarcastic humor from the author of Deadpool. Hopefully, future volumes will fulfill my wishes. I will definitely pick up the next one because the setting is incredible.
Putting noir characters in a future setting has been done before. Fans of those tales like Blade Runner and Looper will enjoy this dark look into the future. 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 9 2018
Battlestar Suburbia is a humorous take on a common science fiction question. What if the machines took over?
How did the machines take over Earth and its solar system? Internet memes become so stupid that people stop using the Internet. Without its audience, the Internet becomes first hostile and then weaponized as it develops intelligence. Once the intelligence is passed to hardware, all machines eventually wake up to the fact that they are inherently superior to the bags of flesh called humanity. Humans are only kept around to clean. Without waterproof opposable thumbs, machines have difficulty with those types of tasks. Some humans clean machines intimately, if you know what I mean. Unproductive humans, those without a job, are imprisoned.
When Darren loses his livelihood as well as his wallet, he is forced to find another job. After striking out at the official Job Temple and as an unofficial streetwalker (see intimately comment above), he is forced to team up with Kelly. Kelly is also a streetwalker but has a family of beauticians who help them both. In the meantime, Pam, a sentient breadmaker, is sent by the state to unofficially search the Internet for Kelly.
I wanted Battlestar Suburbia to be another Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which it was not. However, I’m not sure it was fair of me to have such high expectations. So I would recommend that readers go into this book with no expectations other than spending a few hours in a possible future world where the narrator quite frequently says funny things. Puns rain supreme. From the motto of the Job Temple, “You Betta Werk” to planets named “Municipal Parking” to the great goddess of the Internet, “Alexa”, the jokes are frequently groaners based on pop culture. Overall, I liked this quick read. It was like the Simpson’s episodes on Halloween—light and humorous. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Humor, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: Sentient machines, Sep 20 2018
Oblivion Song Vol 1 is a great sci-fi horror comic by the creator of The Walking Dead.
Oblivion was created ten years prior when Philadelphia was overrun by huge alien beasts from an alternate dimension. Unfortunately, the beasts like the taste of human flesh. 20,000 are missing and presumed dead.
Nathan works in a poorly funded facility that goes to Oblivion to rescue any remaining humans. When he catches two humans and teleports them back to Earth’s dimension, they tell him of 100 humans surviving in the countryside in Oblivion. Nathan is determined to help them despite government apathy, religious zealotry and aging equipment opposing him at every turn.
The plot, setting and world-building are terrific in Oblivion Songs Vol 1. Because this is only the first volume, the characters are rather thin but I’m sure they will be fleshed out in subsequent volumes. The highly saturated colors and use of stark shadows in some scenes contributes much to the atmosphere.
Is this the next Walking Dead? It’s too early to tell. However, it is good in its own right and definitely worth a read. 4 stars!
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: near future, Sep 12 2018
Rett and Bryn continually awaken in the apocalyptic future in the Echo Room.
Step 1: Rett wakes up in a locked metal room with no memory of how he got there. He has blood on his clothes and hands. Soon he sees Bryn, who is also locked in the room with no memory of how she got there. As they talk, they discover they are both from the government-run shelter for abandoned youth, Walling House. Rett tries to discover a way out of the room. He finds a broken lock on one door. He finds hidden doors to two other rooms. However, there is no food or water immediately available—just a bin filled with empty water bottles and another with strangely glowing green tubes. The only clue is the phrase “SCATTER 3” on one of the walls.
Step 2: Explore. Get scared. Repeat Step 1. Rett and Bryn learn a bit more with each repetition.
The mystery is intriguing. The setting in a wrecked near future world is eerily unsettling. Even though it’s marketed as young adult science fiction, the Echo Room works well as an adult thriller too. While the pacing slowed a bit in the middle, the plot kept the reader engaged. The book will make a great movie someday. It is perfect for fans of puzzles and intriguing situations like in the Maze Runner.
A sequel is hinted at toward the end. I’m looking forward to that book. This one deserves 4 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Tor Teen, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: apocalypse, locked room mystery, Sep 11 2018
A literary take on a post-apocalyptic novel sure to be nominated for a literary award or two. Severance is the story of Candace, a Chinese immigrant and millennial, who is trying to just live her dull life when a real apocalypse hits.
At first, Candace is in denial and continues to live in an eerily empty NYC. Eventually, she leaves in an old NYC taxi and collapses by the side of the road. A group of other NYC survivors take her on a trip to the Facility, where the nerdy leader, Bob, says he has a crash pad perfectly suited to the apocalypse he knew was coming thanks to gaming and Internet conspiracy sites.
I enjoyed the beautiful evocative prose of this novel the most. The plot works but some of its satirical aspects seem forced. I get that Candace’s life is an endless repetition of the same tasks with no knowledge gained from them. Why does the epidemic have the same symptom? It is like getting hit over the head with her point. Also, I would have liked characters other than Candace to be more fully fleshed out. Most seem like stereotypes like Bob the nerd. It is hard to care if something bad happens to a stereotype.
While I don’t think this will appeal to most Walking Dead or World War Z fans because it is too slow as literary fiction often is, it will be a fine change in setting for literary fiction fans. Since I am more the first choice, I give Severance 3 stars. I wanted more horror or more satire. However, your star rating may vary depending on your genre preference.
Thanks to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Humor, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Aug 14 2018, satire
Da Vinci Code + World War Z + Jurassic Park divided by the Bible = Maze Master.
The LucentB virus is 100% deadly and is moving outward from France. Anna enlists the help of Christian professor, Martin, to find “Marham-i-Isa, the legendary healing ointment created by Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead”—perhaps the only hope for humanity. While searching the Middle East for the ointment, Anna is also looking for her former mentor, the famed geneticist Hakari. In a parallel plot, Hakari is being driven mad by visions of shapes and his belief that he is the second coming of Christ. Wars break out as the virus spreads and nations look desperately for a cure. On battlefields, huge “angels of light” are spotted. Have the end times prophesied by the Bible arrived? Or is it something inherited in our Denisovan pre-historic genes that started the virus and the rest is pure human folly?
I loved the Da Vinci Code back in the day but I adore this book even more! It has the genre mashup that I like so much. It’s apocalyptic and scientific. With its factual underpinnings, it could actually happen. The setting and characterization are well done. It moves at a lightning pace. Overall, it is highly recommended for thriller readers. Open-minded fans of horror, science fiction and Christian fiction might also enjoy it. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advanced copy.
Posted in Christian, Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Jul 17 2018
Captivating could-be-happening-now science-fiction plot with appealing artwork.
There is a real tradition of former presidents leaving a personal note for the new president. In Letter 44 Vol 1, the note says aliens are building a mysterious object in our solar system. No one except for a few top defense staff have been told to avoid mass panic. The note continues that the seemingly senseless middle east wars were started just to keep our soldiers in tip-top condition and to inflate the defense budget. Because of a mysterious transmission obstruction, our cameras and telescopes can’t see what is being built. A ship is hastily constructed in secret and sent with 9 military/scientists to investigate. The ship is scheduled to arrive in a few days after more than 3 years in flight.
Will the new President reveal the secret to the American people? To the other national leaders? What will the ship’s crew discover when they reach the alien object? What is its purpose?
The premise and art are great. The plot has several twists and turns. It’s hard to judge who is good and who is evil. If you like your science fiction to be thought-provoking, you can’t go wrong with Letter 44 Vol 1. Plus it’s available for free on Comixology Unlimited and Prime Reading at the time of this review. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Oni Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jul 17 2018, space travel
Life is Hell after the Death of a Clone in this intriguing sci-fi mystery.
In the near future, Leila is a clone working on an asteroid mining metals no longer found on Earth. Lily, Leila’s sister clone is murdered. Leila vows to solve the crime using investigative techniques learned from Miss Marple.
The merging of space opera, human dynamics and a traditional amateur sleuth was done seamlessly. The frequent Christie references were fun. The murderer was readily apparent but another mystery was a complete surprise. 4 stars!
Thanks to Abaddon and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: clones, Jul 10 2018, space
If Doctor Who and Bridget Jones had a baby, it would result in Infinity 8 Vol 1.
Agent Yoko Keren is a security officer on a multispecies spaceship heading for Andromeda. She also wants a child. She is fine with a non-human daddy but checks their genetic history first. So far, all the candidates have poor family histories from asthma to alcoholism. When the ship finds a mysterious floating necropolis, Agent Keren investigates. An alien electrician pledges his love. A hundred necro-eaters try to kill her while she attempts to stop their plot to blow up the ship.
This comic has it all. Star Wars bar-like aliens, romance, fierce battles, fan service and humor. It is highly recommended for female sci-fi fans and admirers of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Lion Forge, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: Jul 3 2018
Ana and Gabe are addicted to froot, the mostly illegal hallucinogen. They also pilot a space ship in a future world. Ana looks and acts like Spicoli from Ridgemont High. The plot is reminiscent of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Weird stuff just keeps happening and that’s it for plot.
Void Trip misses an opportunity to create an awesome future world. The artwork is well done but the plot is a mash-up of better books. I think froot (or a similar substance) is required while reading. 3 stars!
Thanks to Image Comics and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 30 2018, space travel
Great high concept of a world where all animals from ants to humans to elephants one day suddenly can think and speak to one another. The leaders in Animosity Evolution Vol 1 believe that predators must be prevented from killing their natural prey. Only meat from criminals may be eaten after they are killed by the state. The predators form gangs to sell forbidden products. They also attempt to overthrow the state.
The world building within Animosity Evolution Vol 1 is great! The idea of using technology to both save and protect animals is ingenious. My only issue with my advanced review copy was that the muddy artwork sometimes prevented me from determining what was happening. Some of the pages, in particular the two-page close-up of the Leopard’s face, were extremely clear and detailed. Hopefully, the blurriness in the other pages will be corrected in the final version of the product. Still, due to the intriguing plot, I’m looking forward to reading more in the series. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.
This book contains issues #1 through #5 published October 2017 through April 2018. Thanks to the publisher, Aftershock Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 30 2018
Ho hum space POW camp story. With this author’s background, it is surprising that Stalag-X contains nothing innovative or even interesting.
A mysterious prisoner, known only as Joe Human, gets swept up in a space battle. Taken prisoner by the alien Krael, the other POWs at Stalag-X hate him for his seemingly special treatment by the science commandant called Mengele by the POW camp. Mengele has a human called Linda, who allows him to feel her emotions willingly. Deacon, a hired assassin, is also trapped on the ravaged planet. Respected by the Krael, she is allowed to move freely around the planet.
The artwork was clear and the writing was acceptable but there is no originality here. The characters are cardboard cutouts drawn so broadly that the reader doesn’t truly connect with anyone. As advertised on the back cover, this is Bridge over the River Kwai redone in comic book form. However, the shortness of the comic medium makes both the plot and the characters not complicated enough to draw the reader in.
Many readers will have a connection with the author, Kevin J. Anderson’s earlier work on Tales of a Jedi and Dune. For those readers, this book is slightly recommended. For all others, Stalag-X is a pass. In a world full of great comics and graphic novels, it is easy to find something more imaginative elsewhere. 2 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Vault Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Science Fiction Tagged with: May 9 2018, space travel
Page-turner is so overused that it has become trite. Here is how I felt about Obscura by Joe Hart. I…COULDN’T…PUT…IT…DOWN! Literally! I was reading my kindle at stop lights, during boring parts of a telephone conference call at work (with my office door closed of course) and when I should really be sleeping. The plot is completely different from what I usually read. It is a mystery but set in the future that included copious comingled science fiction and science fact.
Humans are increasingly becoming victims of a vicious type of dementia that resembles quick onset Alzheimer’s. Dr. Gillian Ryan’s husband falls victim to it. When their daughter also catches it, Dr. Ryan, a neurologist, tries to find a cure using rats. When her funding is cut, she takes a wild gamble on a six-month trip into space to try to find a cure for an even more virulent version of the disease by using human subjects in her trials.
Unfortunately, revealing any more of the plot would be a spoiler. The best part of Obscura are the wild twists in the plot. What is causing the disease to become more intense in space? Will Dr. Ryan find a cure? What will happen to her daughter?
This book is superb. It is recommended to anyone who wants to read an intriguing rollercoaster ride with a scientific bent and a near future setting. 5 stars! At the time of this review, this excellent read was available on Kindle Unlimited. It is definitely worth picking up!
Thanks to the publisher, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: Family, May 8 2018, science, space travel
Dark sci-fi noir set only two years in the future. Magnus: Between Two Worlds pairs fantastic artwork with a unique storyline.
In 2020, Artificial Intelligences (A.I.s) work as butlers, maids, pets and toys. In return, they receive a federally mandated four hours of time off each day. The A.I.s have come together and built a beautiful alternate world called the Cloud where they can live as they wish. But only until their next day of serving humans. Some A.I.s refuse to return to the human world when their four hours are up. The human police send Dr. Kerri Magnus into the Cloud to find and return those rogue A.I.s. Dr. Magnus starts to feel empathy for the A.I.s. She changes professions and becomes an A.I. therapist. She tries to coax AIs to accept their lot in life before they go rogue. However, a mysterious group comes together to fight A.I. oppression. Their methods include murder and mayhem. Can Dr. Magnus stop them before they kill again?
The world building in Magnus: Between Two Worlds is awesome! Two complete worlds of the future are distinct enough to easily tell apart. Dr. Magnus’ back story is slowly revealed as the main detective story is told.
The artwork is innovative with many panes shown vertically rather the standard horizontal layout. Artful blurring and smudging effectively portray the electrical waves supporting the A.I.s’ world.
Magnus: Between Two Worlds is highly recommended for both science fiction and noir fans. It collects issues 1-5 of Magnus. Despite receiving excellent reviews, the series was cancelled so this book contains the entire story of this reboot of the Magnus Robot Hunter comics from the 1960’s and 1990’s. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Dynamite Entertainment, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: Female lead, Mar 27 2018, Reboot
Like light science fiction, fantasy and/or romance? Don’t mind a slow build-up to a fantastic finish? If so, the Coincidence Makers is for you.
Emily, Eric and Guy meet in a 16-month training class for Coincidence Makers (CMs). CMs are secret agents that work for the government. They “are creators of possibilities, givers of hints, winkers of tempting winks, discoverers of options.” Some examples of their work is Lennon meeting Paul McCartney, the development of corn flakes, and the discovery of penicillin. There are other behind-the-scenes government workers too like imaginary friends, dream weavers, luck distributors, etc.
I love the idea of mixing Men in Black with Harry Potter’s first year at Hogwarts. However, the execution was rather sluggish for the first half. I enjoyed the flashbacks to their schooling much more than their jobs immediately after graduation. I think it would have been better as a trilogy of books with the first only showing the training, the second standard CM work and the third book showing the highest level of CM work. With all of those topics put in this relatively short novel, it seems like an opportunity for a more in depth exploration of this world was missed. For the intriguing world, the Coincidence Makers receives 3 stars. However, the excellent ending ups the stars to 4.
The Coincidence Makers is recommended for soft science fiction or fantasy readers that are willing to wait patiently for a big payoff. Don’t quit reading before the halfway mark as the finale is definitely worth a few more hours of your time. If you are not patient, just wait for the sure to be awesome movie (or movies) based on this book.
Thanks to the publisher, St. Martins Press, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction Tagged with: genre mash-up, Mar 6 2018, original
There are not enough synonyms for fantastic to adequately describe this book. I’ll just stick with awesome and awe-inspiring!
Written in layman’s terms, the Future of Humanity goes from mankind’s move to Mars to its eventual move to a new universe. It discusses what famous science fiction books, television shows and movies got right (surprisingly a lot) and what they got wrong (no fast trips through wormholes or suspended animation in the foreseeable future). The Future of Humanity also contains a brief history of science in tiny easily digestible bites.
The first third of the book talks about what will probably occur by the end of this century. The second part discusses the nut and bolts of how mindless robots, smart artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology will assist the colonization of our universe. It also tells how building a starship could be accomplished (once science solves some mysteries and reduces the price of creating antimatter). The final section discusses long-term travel issues and the changes to Earth and humanity required by the acceleration of the expansion of the universe initially caused by the Big Bang. The pesky problem of extending human life to live long enough to reach a distant planet is described. How humanity may be able to move apart from their physical bodies is investigated. An exploration of the possibilities of extraterrestrials and the string theory of the bubble universe concludes the book.
A enthralling and timely book merging science, pop culture, and intelligent guessing. The Future of Humanity is an intriguing, well-researched look into the future by a beloved scientist. Obviously, the first third is much more likely to occur. As the timeframe lengthens, the odds of prophecy being correct always goes down. However, this is a great peek into mankind’s possible future.
Highly recommended for science-fiction readers and writers. This book contains some great science-based plot ideas. It is also recommended for regular readers who enjoy a great and fact-based story. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Doubleday, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: aging, Feb 20 2018, Robot, space travel