Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Ships of Aleph by Jaine Fenn #spaceopera #scifi

Title: The Ships of Aleph
Author: Jaine Fenn
Genre: Scifi/space opera
Publisher: Tower of Chaos Press
Available: Amazon $1.99 (Kindle)  42 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

Lachin is a dreamer. He's just too curious for his own good. When he gets the chance to be part of an expedition which will allow him to escape the confines of his village, of course he takes it; he wants to see the world. But the world is not what he thought it was... 

The Ships of Aleph is a fantastical adventure set on a world like no other, which fits into Jaine Fenn's popular Hidden Empire universe.

What I liked:
I'm always eager for another Jaine Fenn story, so I picked this up as soon as it released. I love the depth and scope of her writing, how I'm immersed not just in another world but another culture. This had an almost daydream like quality, which reflected the central character's state of mind for much of the story perfectly. I'm also a fan of stories set at sea, and that have a fantasy setting. It's told in first person - not my favourite POV, but written well it works. In some respects it reminded me of a Sir Terry Pratchett story where the incompetent wizard Rincewind sails to the edge of the world. But what Lachin finds there is nothing he expected, and neither did I! This is a story that will make you think about what else might be out there. I should also mention that the main character is crippled, and uses his intelligence to compensate for his physical disability.

What I didn't like:
The story didn't feel complete to me, not just because of being part of set universe - as stated in the blurb, this is part of the Hidden Empire universe, most of which I've read so I know most of the surrounding story - but even then I felt the ending to be abrupt and that it left me hanging.

In conclusion:
This story reads like a fantasy at the beginning, switching to a very scifi feel toward the end, and the jump might jar with some readers (not me, because I was expecting and hoping for the scifi part, and having read Guardians of Paradise - which also has a similar fantasy opening leading to a science fiction ending). For those who like to question the meaning of existence, this might be a good book, but to most readers I would suggest reading the rest of Fenn's Hidden Empire books to really follow the latter part of the story. As a stand alone, it might leave some readers confused. I would recommend this to fans of Fenn who have, or plan to read, the Hidden Empire books, but perhaps not as a first taster of her work.
(You can read my reviews of the other Hidden Empire books at Fantasy Book Reviews HERE).

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Girl From Above by Pippa DaCosta #spaceopera

Title: Girl From Above: Betrayal  (The 1000 Revolution #1)
Author: Pippa DaCosta
Genre: Space Opera
Available: Amazon $0.99 (Kindle) 179 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

"My name is #1001, and I am not ready to die." I’d only just begun to live."
When Captain Caleb Shepperd is released from prison, all he wants to do is keep his head down and earn a living smuggling illegal cargo through the nine systems. So when a synth stows away on his ship, and brings with her a crap-ton of problems, including guilt-ridden secrets he thought he’d escaped, he’d prefer to toss her out the airlock. The problem is, she’s priceless tech, and he’s fresh out of credit.
#1001 is not meant to exist. Created for a single purpose, she has one simple order: to kill. But not everything is as it seems. Buried deep inside, she remembers... Remembers when she was human. And she remembers what Shepperd did to her. She’s not ready to die, but she is ready to kill.

WARNING: 18+ only. Contains graphic adult content, including sex, drug use, violence, and a plethora of curse words. Not for the easily offended.

What I liked:
For 43K, the author has certainly packed a huge punch into this space opera novella. It had the depth of world building, character development and necessary back story without info dumping that I'd normally only expect from a longer work. And the action did not stop - there wasn't a slow moment in it. As a huge fan of androids/artificial humans, I was fascinated by 1001 and the theory and technology involved in their creation. I would have loved the entire story told solely in her POV. *possible spoiler follows* Francesca had me intrigued, though I figured her out before the revelation.

What I didn't like:
In a word, Caleb. Sorry, but I do not like jerks, and he has to be the biggest a-hole I've ever encountered in my reading history that is supposed to be the 'good' guy. I can tolerate one for a chapter or two if he's redeemed or shows signs of being redeemable but by the time the story showed any indication of it happening for him, I couldn't care less, regardless of what had driven him to be like that. I think his intention of letting a certain character *no spoilers* die was the final straw. Because of him, I'm not sure I'd read the next in the series. I also wasn't too happy with the cliff hanger ending because it makes the story feel incomplete and left me feeling somewhat cheated. I would expect this to therefore have been listed as first book in a serial rather than book one of a series.

In conclusion:
The author has packed a hell of a lot of action, character and world development into an explosive, often violent and sexually charged 43K. I would probably read more by her, but Caleb has potentially put me off reading the rest of this particular series even though I'd have loved to reach the end of 1001's story - if it had been told solely from her point of view, I would definitely kept reading. Sadly Caleb was not the 'hero' for me. If you like your space opera along the lines of Firefly and Farscape, with a hint of Bladerunner (and foul language, sexually explicit threats and casual violence don't put you off), this could be the space opera series for you. Not for the easily offended.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Gods of Probabilities by Liza O'Connor #scifi #humor

Title: The Gods of Probabilities (The Multiverses 1)
Author: Liza O'Connor
Genre: Scifi Humor
Publisher: New Authors Online
Available: Amazon $2.99 (Kindle) 352 pages
Rating:  5 stars
Rater: Pippa

The Gods require a time shifter to ensure the Path of Light reigns during the final collapse of possibilities. To speed the process of finding an Oceanic with the specific talents needed, God DNA is induced in several batches of Oceanic eggs, resulting in a generation of brilliant tiny blue Oceanic children.
One charming boy named Drogan has the ability to manipulate quantum reality in ways that will strengthen the Path of Light. Only trouble is that his gift runs a high probability of killing him and wiping out the path for good.
While the bureaucratic Gods will try to assist, in Quantum all possibilities not only can, but do happen, so the future is never certain.

Releases 1st July 2015

What I liked:
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, having not read any of Liza's non-SF titles, other than knowing she had a reputation for being humorous. I wasn't disappointed. I had a smile on my face for much of the book due to her Douglas Adams-esque humor throughout, tempered by some intriguing science (quantum theory and multiple parallel universes), theories of evolution, and comic theology. While humans are mentioned very briefly, the story focuses on an ocean dwelling intelligent life form and their struggle for survival while overseen by a superior race (whom legends describe as gods). I loved the twist on Greek mythology and basing the story around a non-human race. The science isn't so heavy that even a non-SF reader would struggle with it and woven in carefully throughout so not to overload a reader with facts to remember. The world building is also nicely layered in. This is a story that will make you laugh, but keep you thinking about it long after you finish.

What I didn't like:
Because it wasn't told in what I think of as deep 3rd POV, some of the more serious emotion was lacking for me. However, the story, the characters, and the comedy more than made up for this. I can live without emotional punch if it's made up for with comedy that has me chuckling every few pages. Not to say this doesn't have its serious elements and moments of tear-inducing sadness, but not to the level I'd normally seek from a story.

In conclusion:
If you're a fan of Douglas Adams (re the Hitch-Hikers' Guide and Dirk Gently's Long Dark Teatime of the Soul) or Sir Terry Pratchett's SF novels (The Dark Side of the Sun and Strata) you should definitely read this. Even non-SF fans who like humor (including some grumpy gods and sassy goddesses along with the SF) will enjoy this book. Can't wait for the next in the series!