The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

Filed under:Adventure,Mystery,Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on May 19, 2017 @ 4:16 pm


The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes

This books is a follow-on to Dream Park. In this, the Dream Park business is running a new simulation, an end-of-the world scenario with mythological connections. But things are going on behind the scenes. When a player dies before it should be possible, an investigation begins turning up murder and conspiracy – and a return character operating under an alias and with a hidden past.

The dream story is interesting. It was well-researched and involves some Inuit history and mythology, and we see the players drawn into an interesting culture.

However, I didn’t feel the story was as good as the previous one. The characters are a bit shallow, which is moderately typical for Niven. But the story is very creative, which is also typical. In the end, I didn’t feel as if everything was adequately explained, such as the code modifications which had to get around security and have a very good understanding of their technology. The mystery player seemed to be far to uninteresting in the end, she had a lot of potential and should have been more complex. With the weak ending and the lack of character development I can’t recommend this book.

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on April 28, 2017 @ 3:09 pm


Bloodline by Claudia Gray

This is a story of Princess Leia’s political life. The New Republic is facing new threats from within, the Centrists, a political party wanting to increase control over the galaxy in the name of preserving peace, have created a new role of First Senator. This person has much increased power and my be one step away from another emperor.

In addition to the political issue, Leia is investigating an underground military buildup. But no one believes it is possible. With the help of a Centrist, Ransom Casterfo, they travel across the galaxy to try to find proof of the existence of this army.

I found Ransom to be an interesting and complex character. On his first meeting with Leia, he comes across as an Empire apologist. This created a lot of tension between them. Yet his complexities reveal another side to him which warrants sympathy.

I listed to the audio version of this book. I found January LaVoy to be a good reader, and Random House has done a good job in the production. They have provided good background sounds that really enhance the book experience.

even though neither the political situation nor the military situation reach resolution, the book has good characters and interesting situations. It calls for a sequel.

Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

Filed under:Adventure,Fantasy,Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 1, 2017 @ 2:23 pm


Myth-ion Improbable by Robert Asprin

This books is set earlier than some of the recent books, following Myth Directions. In this adventure, Skeeve gets hold of a treasure map that leads to a golden cow. At the thought of treasure, Aahz loses his senses, with Tananda, they begin a grand adventure. .

Only, the map is magical and changes as the proceed. They meet some odd characters, some peculiar dimensions. Meeting vegetarian cowboys, odd cattle, and redundant towns on their way to find gold, they face odd obstacles and find humorous solutions.

The Long Road Home by G. B. Trudeau

Filed under:Humor,Series — posted by Randolph on April 3, 2016 @ 7:23 am

The Long Road Home by G. B. Trudeau

This is a collection of cartoons relating to B.D.s recovery from an RPG attack near Fallujah. It deals with recovery issues and the loss of a limb. It also tells the story of Fisher House, a recovery house for wounded vets. It not only addresses B.D’s and Boopsie’s recovery, but addresses some of their friends. But Trudeau keeps it light, there is a suggestion we might find out what his initials stand for, and Zonker can keep any subject light.

This collection keeps its distance from politics and the stronger political characters don’t make an appearance. The book really focusses on the recovery issues without any distracting side-stories.

Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on March 20, 2016 @ 8:46 am

Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart

This is Jim Stewart’s first book, and he is establishing himself among the big names in mystery novels. This novel is in the style of John D. MacDonald with a special forces-trained and capable hero, Mike Ironwood, who has a PI office in Portland, Oregon. Mike has a half-brother, Daniel, who is more spiritual and half Nez Pierce. Daniel, who was trained as a Navy Seal, provides some support.

Here, a green-eyed woman, Willimina Hayes, who has a ranch near Prineville. Someone seems to be trying to gain control of her ranch, by hook or by crook. She came to Mike just to get some answers.

In an adventure taking Mike into Mexico to deal with a drug cartel and a rogue DEA agent, there is a good mixture of suspense and action with a few surprises thrown in.

The book has interesting characters and is well-paced. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Death Dance: A Novel by Linda Fairstein

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on January 28, 2016 @ 10:14 am

Death Dance: A Novel by Linda Fairstein

This is another in the series of Alexandra Cooper. She is investigating the apparent suicide of a ballerina at the NY Met. Unfortunately, she isn’t someone the reader cares about, nor are the incidental characters. Most are flat and uninteresting, although there is some interest in a few of the interactions.

The book opened with a drug-rape scene and its ensuing courtroom actions. The judge was a mysogenist, although way over the top. He was too extreme to be believable as a character. Although probably within the realm of reality, he was too much for a book. This plot line was more interesting and more appropriate for Alexandra. Unfortunately it was a subplot and happened in the background and was resolved without much interest.

Overall the story felt flat. It wasn’t a bad mystery, but just barely held my interest.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on January 12, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

This is book 13 of the Mary Russel stories of Sherlock Holmes. This book is more a cultural story of Japan and Japanese culture in the 1920s than a true mystery, I’m not sure there’s enough information for the reader to solve the puzzle.

The story opens on a cruise from India to Japan. Sherlock cannot relax and enjoy the trip, he finds questions to ponder, a suspicious English lord and an odd acrobat are part of a growing mystery that involves royalty and extortion.

The Japanese culture is exposed through two unusual characters. They become closely intertwined in the mystery for most of the book. They present a cultural experience that seems extreme, but can be forgiven due to the nature of these characters.

One of the books minor themes are haiku by Basho. Each chapter begins with a haiku, presumably in the style of Basho. The haiku does relate to events in the chapter and can provide additional meaning. They are well worth reading for content.

Overall, the book has good pacing and is interesting enough to keep the reader involved. Laurie King does not disappoint her audience.

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams by Gareth Roberts

Filed under:Science Fiction,Series — posted by Randolph on November 20, 2015 @ 10:39 am

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams by Gareth Roberts

This book started as a script for TV written by Douglas Adams. The script does not follow what we think of as Doctor Who cannon. Production did start on an episode (or movie?) but (apparently) not completed. Gareth Roberts took the script and expanded it into a book.

The book is an adventure story, it seems to be based on the Tom Baker version of The Doctor, but it isn’t explicitly stated. It does have a good feel of Doctor Who, the deviations are pretty obvious and appear early, and it is easy to get past them and enjoy the story. The flavor of Douglas Adams is obvious, especially toward the end of the book.

The characters are interesting, although the relationship between the two primary human characters felt contrived. The plot is interesting and has enough twists to keep the interest up.

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

Filed under:Mystery,Series — posted by Randolph on October 3, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs

A woman, Lucky Strike, approaches Dr. Brennan with questions about a disappearance, a case that was closed years ago. The woman is a web sleuth, a hobbyist detective who spends a lot of her free time investigating closed cases and discussing them on the internet.

The woman comes across as a nut, but naturally provides Temperance enough to become curious, which leads into twisty passages of an investigation.

Ramsey, a sheriff she has to deal with, is a reluctant partner, and a comes across as a bit of a chauvinist. He contrast a bit with Andrew Ryan, who wants to get married. Then things get complicated with Lucky is killed.

The solution to this one surprised me, and the story was very good, I looked for those moments when I could read a few pages. This is better than some of the more recent books, a very good read.

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay

Filed under:Fantasy,Series — posted by Randolph on September 8, 2015 @ 8:08 am

Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay

The book is set in a fantasy-world equivalent of Byzantium. The title refers to going to Sarantium in order to find opportunity or the cost of failure in not standing up to that opportunity.

The protagonist is a mosaicist who goes to Sarantium in place of his master to build a mosaic for the King. There is some courtly intrigue and it has interesting and well-developed characters.

I’m not sure why it’s set in a fantasy setting, as the fantastic elements seems of negligible importance and could have been achieved by other means. It could easily have been set in Rome or Byzantium, among other ancient cultures.

The book got off to a slow start, but became much more interesting when the protagonist reached Sarantium.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace