Monday Book Pick: There Will Be Dragons

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

There Will Be Dragons by John Ringo
This is the first book in John Ringo’s four book Council Wars series. He wanted to to a science based fantasy series. So this series is set in a far future, in a technological utopia. People live for centuries, they can transform themselves into mermaids, whales, humanoids capable of flight, unicorns, etc. Prety much limited by imagination. There are also fantasy creatures created by genetic engineering and nanotechnology, including dragons and Elves. The Elves were designed as ultra-efficient combat troops. Pro-tip, do no screw with the Elves. Of course, things are no perfect in a Ringo utopia. The human population is shrinking, mainly because raising kids is a chore, and a twenty year commitment. The closest thing to a government is a “Council” that have control over “Mother”, the massive AI that controls the planet, and makes the utopia possible. The Council disagrees with how to handle this problem, so one side decides to kill the rest of the Council in order to gain control. The attempt failed, and the resulting conflict between the Council members sucks up all the available power, reducing the rest of the humanity to pre-industrial levels. Mother still enforces her basic protocols, absorbing all energy higher than low pressure steam. Ringo achieves what S.M. Stirling did in his “Dies the Fire” series, by evoking Clarke’s Third Law. I’ve recently reread the series. It’s a fun read. Check it out.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Tom Swift and his Flying Lab

January 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

Tom Swift and His Flying Lab by Victor Appleton II
Let’s go back to 1954 for the first in the rebooted YA science series. The Tom Swift Jr. books are a spinoff from the earlier Tom Swift juvenile science based adventures. In the original Tom Swift books (first published in 1910), the young inventor was pushing the science of the day, with his motorcycle, airship, and airplane. So the science bar had to be raised in the mid 1950s. Tom Swift Jr., starts his adventures with an atomic powered VTOL aircraft that includes a full set of science labs, a kitchen for their cook, Texan “Chow” Winkler, and a smaller set of aircraft (jet and helicopter) in a hanger bay. Good fun, with a definite Cold War setting.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners

December 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo and Larry Correia
Oliver Chadwick Gardenier is back. Seattle got a bit “too hot” for him (How was he to know that elf chick was only 40?), so for his sins, he is sent to New Orleans. Vampires, werewolves, and giant naked mole rats. Oh my! As fans of the series know, the job of the MCB is to keep knowledge of monsters and the “supernatural” from the public. This is a problem in New Orleans, since most of the locals already know that “HooDoo” is real. There are enough outbreaks of zombies and ghouls that cemeteries in New Orleans are built with fences and locked gates. Then there is the full moon. Things get really weird then, and very, very dangerous for Monster Hunters. Like any John Ringo book, the action scenes are very well done. It is the little touches that had me giggling through this book. Like the male bonding sessions with Chad and Milo (Milo is on the roof the car, trying to pick off zombies on a golf course, and Chad is rocking the car…something my own asshole of a brother would do (love ya Fred, but don’t try to deny this). There is a also the Cajun member of “Team Hoodoo” that things monsters make good eating. That includes the afore mentioned giant naked mole rat. Monster Hunting in New Orleans is different that what fans of the series have come to expect. For one thing, the MCB publishes a supermarket rag of the local events. Think “plausible denial.” Team Hoodoo are local celebrities, and yes, Chad uses that to get laid. Their “landlord” is a local drug gang, who makes sure nobody bothers the building or their cars. Those drug dealers are out on the streets, at night. Zombies and vampires are bad for business. In all a fun read. The only downside is that there is one more book in this series (The memoirs of Oliver Chadwick Gardenier), and it isn’t out yet.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Sunday SciFi: Jim Baen and Baen Books

December 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Science Fiction, Sunday SciFi 

JC Carlton has a really nice Jim Baen tribute article.   Well worth the read.

I’m a fan of Baen Books.  I like hard SciFi and adventure.  Andrew Liptak notes in his article on Jim Baen, that “the type of fiction that Baen was most interested in: adventurous, escapist, and fun.”   I pay my money to be entertained.  I don’t need lectures on social justice, and the evils of capitalism. I get more than enough of that just from living in New England.

Thomas Disch, author of The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World, doesn’t share my opinion.  I read his book, which I liked. Mr. Disch however didn’t like any Science Fiction with the slightest politically conservative leaning.  He also wasn’t too fond of female authors either.  He targeted Baen specifically for catering stories for conservative fans.  I think a more accurate description would be that Jim Baen didn’t discriminate against authors with a politically conservative viewpoint, as other publishing companies did. There are authors who only deal with Baen, because of the open hostility shown at some other publishing houses to any author who didn’t toe the progressive leftist line. Jim Baen didn’t care about your politics, he cared if you could write good adventure stories.  Case in point, Eric Flint.  Eric Flint is one of the top selling authors at Baen, both in number of books, and number of books sold.  He was also an editor at Baen for a while.  He as also worked for the Socialist Workers Party. Mr. Flint is a well educated historian, who paid for grad school by working as a longshoreman.  He has also co-authored books with Charles E. Gannon, David Weber, and Tom Kratman.

Baen was also an early pioneer in using the Internet as a way to reach their readers.  The Baen Bar forums were up and running before most publishing houses knew there was an Internet.  Baen also was one of the first publishing houses to sell ebooks.  They also bucked the trend, by refusing to put DRM (“copy protection”) on their ebooks.  Jim Baen went by  the novel notion that his customers were not crooks, and actually wanted the authors of the books they read to be successful, and write more books.    Jim Baen went as far to put out CDs (included with hardcover purchases, as well as available online), with a complete catalog of an given author’s work.  All without any encryption, and in multiple e-reader formats.

I did some research into the e-book market, and the Baen approach, for a graduate marketing class.  The problem, as stated by Eric Flint, wasn’t people stealing your books. The problem was that people don’t know about your books.   Baen Books found that when they put out an e-book as a free download on their site, sales rose.  Not only for that book, but for the entire author’s catalog that was still in print.

Jim Baen loved his work, and knew that if you gave the fans a good ripping yarn of high adventure, and didn’t consider them criminals, he could spend more time working on content than running the business.

Monday Book Pick: Soldiers Out of Time

September 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

Soldiers Out of Time by Steve White
Jason Thanou is once again traveling through time, and in this latest entry in the series, space as well. Keep in mind that Thanou is not from Earth, so the space travel element in this series has been baked in from the start. If fact, most of the action against the evil Transhumanists takes place on planets other than Earth. There is, of course, time travel on Earth, late 19th Century, near the Khyber Pass. Lots of action and plot twists. A good addition to the series.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

August 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by John Ringo and Larry Correia
As my gentle readers know, I’m a big fan of John Ringo and Larry Correia. So when John Ringo decided there was a few Monster Hunter books in him that just had to come out, of course I was there. This is the first in a series of books detailing the life and hard times of one Oliver Chadwick Gardenier, a hot shot monster hunter during the 1980s and early 1990s. Returned to Earth by a fisher named Peter, who said “the boss” had a job for him. That job was hunting monsters. Interesting fellow Chad, genius with a gift for languages, who studied the ASVAB tests so he could make sure that he was made a Rifleman when he joined the Marines. Then there was Chad’s relationship with his parents, especially his mother. Let’s just say they didn’t get along well. One of the cool parts of the book was the “Pro Tips” Chad scatters around his memoirs. Here are some examples: “Pro-tip: If you’re going to be cutting off a lot of heads, get a really good katana.” “I don’t care how big and muscle bound you are, things like yoga and ballet are useful. That’s the pro-tip.” Then there is what to wear when jogging in the dark in an area you know monsters live in. A fun read, like most of Ringo’s books, there is a fair amount of humor mixed with really, really good actions scenes.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: Liberty 1784

Liberty 1784 by Robert Conroy
Another excellent alternate history from the late Robert Conroy. In this one, history changed when the British Navy defeated the French convoy sent to support the American in their bid for independence. The British army is reinforced at Yorktown, and Washington’s army is defeated. Things don’t go well for the defeated Americans: George Washington is taken to London, tried for treason, and beheaded at the Tower of London (which how the book starts); many members of Congress, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, are captured and sentenced to hard labor as slaves in Caribbean.  Members of the American army are branded, and are ill treated by the Tories and the British Troops still in the colonies.  Many surviving patriots went west, to towns like Liberty.  These included people still wanted by the British, such as John Hancock and Ben Franklin.   In order to root out the last bits of rebellion, the British gather a large force to enter the wilderness and destroy Liberty.

Liberty is a hard thing to destroy it turns out.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Disinherited

February 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

The Disinherited by Steve White
This is Steve White’s first solo novel. My first printing of this book has a 1993 copyright. It’s a straight up space opera, and fans of the classic SciFi RPG Traveller, and the closely related 2300AD game will some familiar concepts. It is also a first contact story. A group of Terrans, a mix of Americans and Russians working in the Asteroid Belt are contacted by beings from another star, with advanced technology. Both sides are more than a bit freaked out to find out they are both human. The alien humans have a problem, namely a very aggressive species of actual alien that makes up for a slightly lower tech base with a fracking lot of resources. The space faring Earth humans go to assist the other humans. They might as well, since the Earth had been poisoned by what Mr. White had correctly identified 23 years ago as the toxic ravings of the so called “social justice” movement, which has a more dangerous level of Antisemitism than it does today. Heroic stuff happens, and there is even a surprise twist at the end. Just to top this tale of adventure in deep space off, there is a mad scientist and his beautiful daughter.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Justice League: Gods and Monsters

January 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Comics, Movies, Science Fiction 

Justice League: Gods and Monsters
Yet another example of excellence from DC Comics animated movie team.  This is an alternate universe where the Justice League is made up three, and I use the term loosely, heroes.  Superman is the son of General Zod, not Jor-el, Batman is a vampire (created by Science!), and Wonder Woman is one of the New Gods.  All them have no issues what so ever in killing bad guys.  Just to set the tone for this universe a bit more firmly, Amanda Waller is President.  Ya, it’s a dark reflection of the DC Universe.  Things only get worse when the Justice League starts getting framed for killing scientists.  In the end, it’s a wake up call for the League, with some help from Lex Luthor, who seems to be crossed with Stephen Hawking in this setting.

Friday B-Movie Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Terminator Genisys

January 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies, Science Fiction 

Terminator Genisys

Starting the new year with the latest in the Terminator francise. Once again, they are moving forward with the premise of changing the timeline doesn’t always work the way you want it to. Ya, I’m going to do spoilers, so quit now if you care. This entry has some delightful (to the fan base at least) almost scence for scence sequences from the orginal. Plus it has Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a T-800 series who has been guarding Sarah Connor since a T-1000 tried to kill her as a little girl. The flesh around the machine ages, which is how they explain using a current Schwarzenegger for the aging robot.  The special effects are great and the fights are epic.  Well worth the popcorn and rental.

Friday B-Movie Archive

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