Tag Archives: #Adventure

Halstead, Jason; Voidhawk (2011)

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Longing for his own spaceship, Dexter Silvercloud drags his friend Kragor away from his life as a married man to fix a space derelict called Hawk’s Talon. The space ship is stuck in the asteroid field off their planet. Two nights a week are spent fixing up the vessel and Dexter will do anything to buy it. The rest of the week is spent getting enough money together to buy Hawk’s Talon.

One day while traversing the Playground to fetch his friend Dexter stumbled into an ambush. Contrary to stories told around hearths with mulled ale, most ship to ship encounters in the void do not involve catapult shot and ballista bolts flying. Even the rare bombards so often talked about in the story are seldom seen, let alone fired. Only the Federation and the Elven Armada ships are prone to fire at the slightest provocation. Repairs and even ammunition are too expensive for the private ship owner to run the risk.

Three small ships emerged from teh background of floating rocks to close with him. Dexter quickly identified an Ant, a Dart, and the third was little more than a skiff with a sail upon it. Dexter sped up his Gnat, risking the perils of the asteroid field and trying to lose the pursuing ships. Being a Federation scout ship, Dexter was correct in assuming that his was faster than the pirates. They were very familiar with the asteroid field; however, so he was unable to lose them.

The largest one, the Ant, slammed into a pony sized rock, sending one man flying into the void and another to the deck bleeding. Broken planks of wood drifted free, bobbing in the small vessel’s gravity plane. Seeing that gave Dexter an idea.

Yes. You read correctly. Space vessels with wood plating and sails. In space. Sail ships in space. Sorry. I just cannot comprehend why Halstead would choose to place sail ships in space. It makes no sense. Even if they have their own gravity wells. Even though I do not hold space operas to the same rules as most other forms of science fiction. There are  minimum requirements that I have, and Halstead keeps on breaking them throughout the story.

One of the reasons I think I kept on reading was because of a fascination with an author who completely disregards physical laws. Plus Halstead’s writing is halfway decent. If only he had chosen a stricter editor and science fiction beta-readers. Sadly, Voidhawk‘s characters suffer from the same lack.

I cannot say that I recommend Voidhawk. If only … I probably would have.

Wells, Martha: The Ships of Air (The Fall of Ile-Rien II) (2004)

 

Martha Wells brings back the three worlds caught up in the invasion of Ile-Rien.

For some reason there are readers out there who have decided that The Fall of the Ile-Rien is a fantasy work. The first story, The Wizard Hunters, has plenty of elements of fantasy in it, so that would be a natural conclusion to draw about that. That is until you get to the parallel world and strange technologies that turn up. In The Ships of Air the science fiction element is even stronger. My annoyance comes from the way women authors are so casually relegated categories that simply do not fit.

There, rant over.

Tremaine is a great main character. In spite of Ander’s misogynism, she manages to get people to follow her. Perhaps this is due to her quick thinking, diplomacy and ability to cut through objections when need be. Her childhood training by her father and uncle is clearly an asset in the treacherous landscapes of worlds and people that she finds herself in.

Ander, on the other hand, still needs to have his testicles removed. He never quite seems to grasp just how different the Syprian society is to the one of Ile-Rien and the power women have in Sypria. He really needs to be a bit more careful about what he says around Tremaine. The men surrounding her would probably just nod approvingly if Tremaine got her scissors out.

We get to meet representatives of the Gardier community. The “top dog” there seems to be a soldier of some sort. The Gardier are an interesting people. All of them seem to be terrified of the evil Ile-Rien and dismissive of the animal-like Syprians. Their beliefs about their own superiority  mirrors much of what we see in the real world on a regular basis. Hell, 6 million Jews got killed for being “animals”.

Fear is a powerful tool to get your citizenship in line. We see the US using this tool all the time these days, and it seems to be working. Even here in Norway the government has started using the same type of fear-propaganda. The Gardier leader’s socialisation shows in the way she interacts with the Syprians and the Ile-Rien. Just because she is a Gardier leader does not mean that she sees other Gardiaer’s as equal to herself. Oh, no. Nor do the people in either Ile-Rien or Sypria. That is how the world works. It seems humans have this need to belong to a “we” group that feels far superior to the “them” group where the rest of the world is lumped.

I really enjoy the questions raised in this trilogy and the action I get to enjoy. Sadly, I have to admit to enjoying well-written fight scenes. Yes, that probably makes me a violent creature, but there you are. Martha Wells knows how to make her worlds of the possible and impossible come alive for this reader.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Ships of Air available at Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, Books-a-Million, Book Depository.com, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon.ca, IndieBoundTantor Audio, French: Polish: Łowcy czarnoksiężników


My review of The Wizard Hunters


I know I got my shovel, where’s yours?

N.K. Jeminims GoH speech

Science Fiction’s invisible authors

Wells, Martha: The Cloud Roads (The Raksura I) (2011)

Moon is an orphan. A 35-year-old orphan, but nevertheless. Orphans are one type of people this world has in abundance. How strange it is that we are so eager to bring children of our own genes into this world while so many live in horrendous circumstances. We humans aren’t very logical.

Finding your place in the world when you look and act different to the majority seems impossible for a child to do. Like most homeless orphans, Moon goes through some pretty traumatic experiences. Sometimes he thinks he has found his place. Then it turns out the people he lived with were only looking for cheap labor. When such labor was finished, he was tossed out. What would that do to a person? In my case, I would most likely die due to some of my autistic traits. Moon, survives any way he can.

We meet him right after the last group of people he was living with chains him up as bait for a predator. Shapeshifters that might be taken for the group of people called Fell aren’t very popular in Three Worlds.

Since this is fiction, Moon is saved just in the nick of time. When Moon discovers that the person who just saved him is like him he is stunned, angry, suspicious and afraid. Here he thought he was either a monster or all alone in the world. Then he is not. What would that do to a person?

What happens now is that Moon ends up in a society where people are like him. Except they aren’t. After all, Moon has seen a life they could not dream of. Yet again he does not fit into the mold set apart for him. But I think Wells has portrayed him perfectly. Of course, he isn’t thankful for the role these new people want him to play. Why should he be. They weren’t there when he was abused and battered. Instead, they were all learning how to fit into their society and to adhere to the rules created for each class of person. Someone who has had to make on his own isn’t going to be able to play such games. In this inability I recognize myself. But such an inability is bound to create conflict.

Add to that the Fell and Wells has created a world fraught with danger, adventure and plenty of action. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Cloud Roads available at Barnes and Noble, Chapters Indigo, Amazon US, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, The Tattered Cover, Books-a-Million, Book Depository.com, Waterstones UK, Book Depository.uk, Amazon UK, Whitcoulls NZIndieBound, Abe Books. Baen Webscription, Audible.com, Audible UKiTunes

Wells, Martha: The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien I) (2003)

A female protagonist looking to die in what seems to be an accidental manner is a relief to meet. Wanting to die is something I experience on a regular basis so I find it nice to know that there are people in literature who feel the same way. Her death-wish is why Tremaine joins the clean-up crews after bombings and why she joins Gerard when he asks her to bring her uncle’s sphere along. Tremaine Valiarde is a woman with an unusual life up to now and it is about to enter the realm of the unexpected. She has two qualities that I really like. One is her ability to make difficult decisions quickly without needing to question her choices. The other is her ability to integrate others in her life as a matter of course. Actually, there are three qualities I really appreciate. The third is Tremaine’s ability to remain fairly clear-/ and level-headed in a crisis. When she, Florian and Gerard end up on an island in the middle of the ocean those qualities will become essential to survival.

Ilias and Giliead see it as their mission in life to hunt wizards. Their experience with wizards thus far in life has been that all wizards are  insane. In Sypria being a sorcerer, wizard or even the victim of one gets you either shunned or killed. Ilias and Giliead are about to get their views challenged.

Prejudice is an interesting quality. All of our fear-attitudes are. There must be people out there who do not struggle with prejudices, but I have not met any of them yet. We get to see different types of prejudices in the people from Ile-Rien and the people from Sypria, but at heart all of their prejudices are the same. This is where Tremaine’s ability to integrate others into her life becomes especially important.

Meetings between two fairly different cultures are bound to be troublesome. But the need to fight a common enemy enables people to overcome some of the fear and cooperate. Gardier provides the role of a common enemy through their invasions of both Ile-Rien and Sypria. When survival depends upon the parties cooperating logic states that they cooperate. But reality both here in the real world and in the world of The Wizard Hunters shows that people aren’t always logical.

The Wizard Hunters is my first meeting with Martha Wells. I have had a lot of first meetings with authors over the years and not all have been as successful as this one. Definitely recommended.

P.s.: Ander needs to have his testicles cut off.


Reviews:


The Wizard Hunters available at Barnes and Noble, Edge Books, Powell’s, Mysterious Galaxy, Books-a-Million, Amazon, Amazon UK, Tantor Audio, iTunes

French: Amazon.fr
German: Trade Paperback