Tag Archives: #Robots

Scott, Alan: The “Y” Front Standoff (The Y-Front Chronicles) (2014)

Artist: Saskia Schnell
Illustrator: Saskia Schnell

Once again Alan Scott serves us a plateful of humour with a dash of serious. OMG, that talk-show. “Women Who Bitch With Other Women” remind me of some very popular talk-shows that definitely do not have ASD’s in mind. “Next season’s must-have fashion accessory!” indeed.

Once again, the idiotic government wants to kill their once-upon-a-time tool. This is one of the worst thing about governments around the world. For heavens sake, let SCoT-1 get his well-deserved revenge instead of wasting unnecessary lives trying to stop an unstoppable person – especially with Terminal Flatulence on his side.

I laughed. Out loud. Definitely recommended.


The “Y” Front Chronicles available at amazon.com


My review of The “Y” Front Chronicles

Barnett, David: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl (2013)

“Darling Annie!” He took her in his arms and kissed her. Annie wanted to should it from the rooftops. She had a sweetheart, and he was a toff to boot.

Poor little Annie Crook became involved with the wrong man. In Victorian times, whether they be in alternate or our history, the rabble risked much if they caught the attention of the upper class. Yet, sometimes, the rabble manages to surprise. Young Annie is one of the voices David Barnett  introduces us to in Mechanical Girl.

At first, he thought the knocking was a gear slipping, or one of the spring wearing. He sat up in the chair, suddenly alert, and peered around. “Anybody else hear that?”

Arthur frowned. There it went again. He stood and walked to the port side. Probably a piece of driftwood or rubbish hauled over the side from one of the factory farms. He leaned over and looked at the black, oily water.

Lives of trawler-fishers are dangerous one. In the past, more so. Usually, lives are lost because of the ocean’s wiles, but for Arthur Smith the cause of death of was much more sinister. Left behind is 24-year-old Gideon Smith (our main protagonist). To him Sandsend seems like the end of the earth and he wants nothing more than to leave it behind and experience the adventures he reads about in World Marvels & Wonders.

To have his father’s death be the impetus for his investigation  was not how Gideon thought his adventure would begin. Investigate he must, for there is something distinctly off about the disappearance of the crew of the Cold Drake. Anger can be a marvelous tool when we suspect something needs fixing. Anger at our gods, the fickleness of nature, people dying and leaving us behind and even at our own fears are all angers that can prompt action and change. Gideon is an angry man, and rightly so. Life in Victorian times (both alternate world and our) was unfair. It still is. Being wealthy makes life easier to navigate while poverty keeps people in their place. Annie was certainly kept in her place. Now Gideon has to find a way to leave his and investigate and explore.

Which is why he goes seeking Captain Trigger, that wonderful hero of the penny dreadfuls. Such a hero must see that Gideon’s cause is worth pursuing (taking Gideon with him). Getting hold of Captain Trigger proves difficult and Gideon must seek help. Who should turn up but Bram Stoker. Yes, that one. David Barnett throws  conspiracies and magical names at us through the story. We just have to pay attention to where we are going.

Once Bram becomes involved, officials finally pay attention to Gideon’s worry about a smuggler’s cave. Stoker is just higher enough on the layers of society for him to be taken more seriously than Gideon. Let’s face it. That is the way the world works. I am taken more seriously than a homeless person. My husband is taken more seriously than I. Writing about inequality in a manner that is fun to read is something Barnett does well. Intended or unintended.

In the end, Gideon gets to meet Captain Trigger, a meeting that changes both men. Gideon also meets wonderful and strange Maria. As he and Maria get closer to an answer to both of their questions, stranger and stranger creatures turn up. Conspiracy indeed.

I had fun. Lots of fun reading Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl available at Amazon.com

Miéville, China: Railsea (2012)

“Well, no one knows,” Caldera said, “but they’ve got a sense of the possibilities. What do they say where you come from? Streggeye, you said? What do you think? Were the rails put down by gods?” Her questions came faster. Were they extruded from the ground? Were they writing in heavenly script, that people unknowingly recited as they travelled? Were the rails produced by as-yet-not-understood natural processes? Some radicals said there were no gods at all. Were the rails spit up by the interactions of rock, heat, cold, pressure & dirt? Did humans, big-brained monkeys, think up ways to use them when the rails emerged, to stay safe from the deadly dirt? Was that how trains got thought up? Was the world an infinity of rails down as well as around, seams of them through layers of earth & salvage, down to the core? Down to hell? Sometimes storms gusted off topsoil & uncovered iron below. The most excavation-gung-ho salvors claimed to have found some tracks yards underground. What about Heaven? What was in Heaven? Where was it? (Railsea, p. 181)

Certain subjects will probably interest me until I die. The lengths to which we go to justify our beliefs and avoid being wrong is one of them. We cling so hard to our philosophies that we end up with mechanised arms, like Captain Naphi, or send our navys out to get hold of two children, the way Maniniki did.

Realizing that my childhood faith was not based on facts, had an immense effect on my ability to handle the thought of being wrong. Debating an issue is now merely fun. No longer do I see other people’s beliefs as something to be feared. Some of the lies I told myself are no longer necessary.

Lying to ourselves, even if we are not aware of lying, holds us firmly in our socially accepted places. Sham Yes ap Shoorap is a brave kid. He often needs to be prompted; but by asking himself difficult questions, he manages to defy conventions and seeks answers. Answers are sometimes only found in dangerous waters, and the metaphoric waters of the railsea are indeed dangerous. The Railsea seethes with life wanting to devour anything and anyone in their paths. One has the choice between being eaten by giant burrowing owls, giant moldywarpes, giant earwigs, giant naked mole rats, giant turtles, blood rabbits, tundra worms and so on. Being on the moletrain was one thing. Going from that to his handcart was quite another.

The Railsea‘s culture is post-apocalyptic. A huge war between rail-barons and other big corporations has caused environmental damage that has lasted long enough for cute creatures to mutate into threats for humans. The heavens are only seen as a smog cover containing angels. Yes, angels. And quite scary ones, too. Scientific knowledge has more or less died along with anything resembling healthy ecology for humans. Yet people keep on messing up the ground even more, especially when greed prompts justification. Greed is a fairly common motivator for destroying our habitat in today’s world. I suppose it always has been. I admit that my own attempts at being an environmentally responsible person are inconsistent, yet I keep on trying. George Carlin has a fitting commentary on the effect humans have on the Earth. Railsea seems a fitting vision of it getting revenge.

While Railsea is indeed a young adult story, it is also very much an adult story.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Railsea can be found at Amazon


Translations:

Bridger, David: A Flight of Thieves (Sky Ships I) (2013)

A Flight of Thieves
Cover artist Georgia Woods
Love this cover

A Flight of Thieves was given to me as a reviewer’s copy.

While I do try to say something positive about all novels I review, some novels need less work from my side than others. David Bridger’s new series Sky Ships is such a series. Right off the bat A Flight of Thieves caught my reader and I had to work to put A Flight of Thieves down when real life called.

A Flight of Thieves is very definitely a young adult novel with intelligent language. It has that warm sense of humour that only the British manage to convey. After so many reviews I feel certain some of you have gotten an idea of how much I enjoy writers from all over the United Kingdom. David Bridger just added himself to that list.

We get a combination of political intrigue, action, steam-punk, robot/human interaction and humour blended into 170 pages worth of enjoyment.

King Henry happens to be one of three robot kings who have ruled the Earth after humans managed to ignore the threat of climate warming long enough for it to be too late. We saw that we had been idiots and Henry and his brothers were created to rule us and hopefully keep us from flooding the Earth once again. 1000 years later he has experienced two rebellions and is looking at a third. Only by chance did he and Princess Victoria discover what was going on. The King joined the Princess on a trip to the Lord of Ireland as her footman (travelling incognito as Henry called it) and discovers that all is not well in his kingdom.

Princess Victoria is our main character. It is through her point of view that we learn of this world 1000 years into the future. She is an adventurous sort of person ready to explore her world if only her parents will let her. There is a little rebellion in Victoria and her sister Anne, but these two are pretty good kids who want to do the best for their kingdom. We get to see how Victoria deals with success and failure, love and death – for not all of her allies will make it through the story. That is the way it is when rebellion enters a land. I liked her optimism and willingness to face reality – panic attacks and all.

Definitely had fun with this one.


Bell, Odette C: A Plain Jane 2 (A Plain Jane) (2012)

Plain Jane 2
Cover art stock photos:
Future city NYC: Nmedia
Earth from Space: Dean Neitman
Fashion woman: Romangorielov
Licensed from Dreamstime.com

Odette C. Bell used to publish her work under the pseudonyms “Muscularkevin” and “Scrabblecat” on Fiction Press. There aren’t really any updated blogs or websites that belong to this author. Fiction Press is the closest I can get.

A Plain Jane continues to be a delightfully light read about the search for identity.

Jane has worked her whole life at being as plain as possible. Now it turns out this has been because she has an “Assister” lodged in her head, meant to keep her safe and invisible. It turns out she is anything but plain.

A Plain Jane II begins where no I left off: Jane on the run with Racarl toward somewhere supposedly safe. But Jane doubts his intentions yet still finds herself unable to assert herself and be the Pala (ruler of her people – the mysterious Para) that she is supposed to be.

As I read A Plain Jane (all three of them) I thought about the brainwashing we are all exposed to from the moment we are born (or socialization as it is more popularly called). What if I grew up trying my hardest to think of myself as plain and boring? What would that do to me? Granted, most of us are plain and boring but do not necessarily think of ourselves that way.

I’ve met quite a few people like Jane on my journey through life. They have been told that they are stupid, worthless, boring, ugly and all sorts of other unkind names by the people they trust. Like Jane they come to believe what they have been told and find it almost impossible to break away from that belief.

In A Plain Jane II this is the phenomenon I found the most interesting. Jane struggles against the ingrained belief she has grown up with and works incredibly hard to overcome herself.

But A Plain Jane II is not a serious reality type of novel. It is in fact an extremely entertaining science fiction story with plenty of action and fighting to go around.

Lucas Stone turns out to be not quite as dead as it seemed he might be by the end of A Plain Jane I.

When Lucas was stopped by Element 52 from killing Jane at the end of A Plain Jane I, he fell an entire kilometer before smashing into the ocean. While his armor had been hijacked and caused him to attack Jane, it was also his new and improved armor that has saved him (barely). Luckily for him his true and tested friends Alex and Miranda managed to come after him with the Paran artifact that had helped Jane. Now they are on the trail hoping to get to her before the Darq does.


Reviews:

Grumpy in Pink



My review of A Plain Jane I

Bell, Odette C.: A Plain Jane (2012)

Plain Jane
Sunset in alien planet: Frenta,
Futuristic City background, Nmedia,
Earth from Space, Dean Neitman,
Fashion Woman, Ramangorielov
Licenced through Dreamstime

The Plain Jane covers happen to be some of my favorite covers. Amazing what an imaginative mind can make of a bunch of pictures. The cover details do not say who the cover designer is so I will go with Bell herself as my candidate.

Odette C. Bell is a difficult woman to chase down. For some strange reason her Plain Jane novels no longer appear on Amazon but Smashwords will link you to various sites.

Plain Jane works with people of every variation there is. Most of them are bi-pedal but come in every version from scaly green to purple with a tail. Jane herself is not human, but exactly what she is neither she nor anyone else knows.

As a plain Jane she is fairly average. Average looks, average life and average abilities. In fact, her averageness makes her blend into any group perfectly. For who would notice someone so boring.

I love boring. In fact, I am probably the queen of boring (at least according to my kids). Other people can experience all of the exiting stuff and then I can read about it. Through my own experiences I discovered that exiting has a price, sometimes a very steep one.

Plain Jane is about to discover the same thing. Her dreams of adventure and excitement never included all of the sweat, pain and grit that come along with them. Then reality hits in the form of an assassin robot trying to kill her. Good for Jane that Lucas happened to be near by and had on his special suit of armor.

Jane and Lucas are fun characters. It is obvious that they are going to get involved at some point. That sort of follows whenever a female character in these types of books are annoyed with some male counter-part.

Jane seems to work pretty hard at remaining plain, but sometimes we see extremely different sides to her. Lucas is thrown into helping her time and again and they both end up delving into the mystery that is Jane.

Into the cauldron we also have a bit of politics, a bit of unlikely technology and a bit of extremely unlikely biology. This is the fun part of science fiction. Guessing and/or making up weird stuff is all part of the package.

A Plain Jane is a romantic mystery that has a science fiction background. Thankfully, the romance isn’t a huge part of the plot. Adventure is the prevalent feature. In A Plain Jane we get the more innocent version of murder and mayhem. In addition we get plenty of humor. Bell’s writing is good. She kept my interest throughout the book and nudged me towards buying the rest of the series.


Reviews:



A Plain Jane: A woman of unremarkable appearance. Appears on the scene at the beginning of the 1900’s.

Pratchett, Terry: Strata (1981)

Cover by Josh Kirby

Kin Karad works for the Company. Her job is to oversee the creation of planets. Some of the workers like to play jokes on future inhabitants. The one she has discovered this time is a plesiosaur in the wrong stratum holding a placard reading “End Nuclear Testing Now”. While she is impressed with the inventiveness of the culprit, Kin is getting tired of her life. It has been a long one.

Then she meets a mysterious person who invites her on a journey. Kin Karad decides to go and when she gets to the spaceship she discovers that she is alone, but will be picking up two companions – a kung called Marco Farfarer, and Silver the Shandi. They are told that they will be going to a flat world.

The spaceship takes off and off they go on their adventure.

Strata precedes Pratchett’s Discworld series, but we clearly see how the foundations are laid for the later series. Kin Karad and her fellow explorers are fun characters with clearly defined personalities. Plays on words and concepts are obvious from the first pages. Pratchett was a pretty good author even back in his early days.