December 2016

A stand-alone post-Apocalyptic book.

Publication year: 1969
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1990
Translator: Leena Peltonen
Format: print
Page count: 172
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Book Studio

Hell Tanner is a not a nice man. He used to be a smuggler and the leader of a violent biker gang and by his own admittance, he’s a rapist and a slaver. He might also be the last hope for many people.

The world is a destroyed wasteland (or at least the US is): filth, fish, and stones rain down during storms, many areas are very radioactive, many animals have mutated into giant man-eaters, and many, many people have died. Some of the survivors have banded together into violent gangs. But a few cities still stand and people still live in them.

One such city is Los Angeles and another is Boston. Each have declared themselves independent states. LA gets word that there’s a plague in Boston. LA still has medicines and the ability to make more of them. Someone just needs to get to it to Boston. It’s not possible to fly anymore because of unpredictable storms and winds.

Tanner is given the choice of either driving to Boston and getting a full pardon or spending the rest of his life in a tiny cell. He tries to run away but is caught. So, without another choice he climbs into a heavily fortified moving vehicle and heads towards Boston, with two other cars. The hope is that at least one of them would get through.

Tanner loves to drive and so he set to Boston but he hates anyone else telling him what to do and that he’s forced into accepting this deal. The other drivers make it clear that they have nothing but contempt for Tanner and so does California’s Minister of Traffic who gives Tanner the deal. No wonder, Tanner doesn’t care of the people or situation. But along the way, he encounters other people and has to decide if he can trust them or not. We also get short glimpses of the people in Boston. They struggle to live with the plague which kills lots of people every day. Some few still hope that the medicine will come.

This is a short and quick read. The imagery and the atmosphere of the story is great, creating a paranoid and claustrophobic feel.

The first in a science fiction series but can be read as a stand-alone.

Publication year: 1985
Format: print
Page count: 346
Publisher: Baen

This series is set far into the future where humanity’s Dominion of Man has spread to several planets. But they’re at war with an alien race, the Trofts, who have just invaded two human planets at the start of the story.

Jonny Moreau is young man who wants to help people and he thinks that the best way to do it, during a wartime, is to enlist to Army. His parents are concerned but allow him to do that. He’s one of the few who are selected to be a new kind of soldier, a Cobra. Cobras undergo a lot of surgeries which make their bones unbreakable, put in servos, and even a nanocomputer which gives them far better reflexes and ready responses to dangerous situations. These enhancements can’t be seen so the Cobras are sent to the occupied worlds, to blend in with the civilians already there and to lead the resistance. For years, they do just that and some of them die there, too.
When the war finally ends, the government is wondering what to do with these new kinds of humans. Some of them want to leave the army and return to civilian life, but not all of their enhancements can be taken out. Jonny returns home, too. While his family is welcoming, almost everyone else seems to be afraid of him or at least wary of him. He can’t find a job, except as a laborer using his enhanced strength which other men resent. Both he and the government are looking for a solution.

While parts of the book are action adventure, underneath are more serious themes like how humans will treat people different from themselves and just who should have power over other people. Most of the book follows Jonny but we get small flashes of the government workings, as well. The storyline jumps ahead from time to so we get to see Jonny at different times in his life and in different roles, as well. The secondary characters change, too, quite a lot.

This turned out to be quite a different, and more thoughtful read than I anticipated, which is good. We don’t really get to know the Troft, though.

Booking Through Thursday

What’s your guilty pleasure, reading-wise?

I’m sure there are people who think that everything I read is a guilty pleasure. 🙂
Superhero comics and O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books certainly qualify.

A stand-alone time travel book.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Running time: 11 hours and 43 minutes
Narrator: John David Krygelski

It’s the eve of John Augur’s marriage to Gail and he steps out from his bachelor party. Outside, he meets an older man who yet seems strangely familiar. He calls himself Jack… and is John from thirty years into the future. Apparently, Gail is a narcissist and a borderline psychotic. Life with her was almost unbearable. Luckily, Jack’s best friend Cal is an inventor and he has invested a time machine. Call has given the time machine to Jack so that Jack can warn his younger self not to marry Gail. Cal has warned Jack from changing anything else, but shortly an accident happens which kills Cal, years before he invents the time machine.

Jack, John, and his best friend Kurt have to try to figure out what to do. Things take a turn to the worse when John tells Gail that he’s going to cancel the wedding and she starts to plot revenge. Meanwhile two detectives are trying to find out what’s going on.

This isn’t an adventure book. Instead, the characters talk and theorize about time travel, paradoxes, and alternate realities which was quite interesting at first. Unfortunately, it got somewhat repetitive. There are some mysteries and twists, though.

John hasn’t seen how manipulative Gail is even though his friends and parents have seen it and tried to talk John out of marrying her. It takes Jack’s horror stories from his past (John’s future) to persuade John. Yet, I didn’t see John really loving Gail; he wasn’t devastated or anything, more like relieved. Indeed, he found a new love interest literally on the same day. So, I wondered why would he stay with her? But I guess that’s her manipulative side. Otherwise, John read a lot and has a beloved miniature train set.

Kurt is the best friend who jokes a lot and Jack is very determined, bitter man. All the four named female characters have romantic or family ties to John.

Today the topic of Top Ten Tuesday is Top 10 new to me authors I read this year

This year I concentrated on read books I already own and thought that I wouldn’t read many new to me authors at all. However, I ended up reading 24 new authors, most of them in audio format but some from my own book shelves.

Four of them clicked with me so well that I’m going to read more from them:

Karl K. Gallagher: Torchship
Torchship was an impressive debut book. It’s science fiction but more hard than space opera. In fact, I’ve already read the sequel, Torchship Pilot.

Becky Chambers: The Long Way to the Small, Angry Planet
This debut book was more warm-hearted science fiction than most SF. It focuses on characters rather than plot. I’ve already ordered the second book, which isn’t a direct sequel.

Leigh Brackett: Eric John Stark: An Outlaw of Mars
I have hard time resisting books set in Mars. Brackett wrote in the science fantasy or planetary romance style I really enjoy. I already have a handful of Eric John Stark books.

Genevieve Cogman: The Invisible Library
Librarians traveling to other dimensions!

Writers I will most likely continue to read:

China Miéville: The City and the City
I’m told that this isn’t actually a typical Miéville book but I’m definitely intrigued.

Rachel Aaron: The Spirit Thief
Charming rogues all the way!

Steve Turnbull: Maliha Anderson Mysteries volume 1
Steampunk alternate history!

Sebastien de Castell: Traitor’s Blade
The three musketeers in a fantasy setting is always a good way to lure me in and the next books are available at the library.

Andrea is hosting Vintage Science Fiction Month in January. I’m joining the fun with a batch of Leigh Brackett books.

Ok, so Vintage Month. The idea is to read (or watch or listen to) anything scifi / fantasy / spec fic / fantastika from 1979 or earlier. You can read a book, listen to an audio book, watch old movies or TV shows. Then talk about it online. Or comment on someone else’s post online. Don’t have time to experience something Vintage-y in January? That’s OK too. If you comment on someone else’s Vintage post, guess what? You’re a participant in Vintage Month. Why 1979 you ask? It’s the year I was born.

My tbr:
The Ginger Star (1975), The Hounds of Skaith (1976), The Sword of Rhiannon (1953), The Reavers of Skaith (1976), and Planet Stories 1 (1975) where Brackett is the editor.

Happy reading, everyone!

Books read:
1, Isaac Asimov: End of Eternity
2, Leigh Brackett: The Sword of Rhiannon
3, Leigh Brackett: The Ginger Star
4, Leigh Brackett ed.: The Best of Planet Stories #1

A Modesty Blaise adventure.

Publication year: 1982
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2012
Translator: Veli-Pekka Ketola
Format: print
Page count: 275
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Jalava

Modesty Blaise was a very successful criminal when she was younger. She rose quickly to lead her own criminal organization, the Network. But there were certain criminal activates she didn’t do, and she even brought down other criminals engaged in them. Her Network dealt mainly with espionage, smuggling, and jewels. The beginning of this story reveals how Modesty told her closest men that she’s going to retire and how they did their last job together. For a while now, Modesty has wanted to bring down Bora who deals with drugs and human trafficking. So, as her last gig she does exactly that, with the help of Willie Garvin and some of her men.

Years later, Modesty, Sir Gerard Tarrant, Professor Steven Collier, and his blind wife Dinah are enjoying a night out when they are shot with a crossbow bolt. Modesty manages to deal with the man responsible but he’s later killed in police custody. The hit could have been against either Modesty herself or Tarrant who is head of Britain’s intelligence. Modesty decides to disappear. Later, there’s another attempt against Tarrant’s life which Willie manages to stop, barely.

When Modesty is vacationing in San Francisco, she runs into an old friend but unwittingly puts him into great danger. Because of that Modesty and Willie become entangled with the dangerous plans of a cruelly efficient organization known only as the Watchmen. They have taken credit for variou terrorist attacks in the names of different causes, so nobody knows what they really want or who they are.

This is another great adventure. This time some of the elements which I don’t like are missing, so I enjoyed it even more than usual. However, I don’t remember Willie having a photographic memory before.

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