Thursday, 23 February 2017

Shout-Out: The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

On the outer rim of the universe, a galactic war has been waged for centuries upon hundreds of world-ships. But these worlds will continue to die through decay and constant war unless a desperate plan succeeds. Anat, leader of the Katazyrna world-ship and the most fearsome raiding force on the Outer Rim, wants peace. To do so she offers the hand of her daughter, Jayd, to her rival. Jayd has dreamed about leading her mother's armies to victory her whole life-but she has a unique ability, and that makes her leverage, not a leader. As Anat convinces her to spend the rest of her life wed to her family's greatest enemy, it is up to Jayd's sister Zan-with no stomach for war-to lead the cast off warriors she has banded together to victory and rescue Jayd. But the war does not go at all as planned.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Video: R2D2 With a Voice: Star Wars - A New Hope

Auralnauts have turned R2D2's beeps and whistles into a voice for the first Star Wars film.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Book Review: The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley

Pros: excellent world-building, lots of action, complex characters and plot

Cons: minor irritants

Note: This is the third book in the series and as such my review contains spoilers for the earlier books. This is an excellent series. You can read my review of book 1 here.

It’s been several months since the events in The Providence of Fire. Adare remains with Il Tornja in the North, protecting Annur from the barbarian Urghul. When a messenger from Kaden’s republic arrives, asking for her to return to the capital as a puppet ruler, a series of events unfolds, allowing Il Tornja to pursue his true goal. Meanwhile the remains of Valyn’s wing return to the Eyrie to find out what’s happened there, while Kaden tries to untangle the mystery of gods walking the earth.

The first few chapters get you back up to speed with regards to what everyone’s been up to the past few months. It’s a bit disorienting, but things quickly get interesting as the intrigues pile up. There are a number of plots weaving around each other, getting ever more complicated as time goes on.

There’s a fair amount of action, with descriptions of war, torture (limited), and a LOT of one on one or small group battles. The action is varied and never dull. In between, there’s a fair bit of politics (mainly Adare) and philosophical questions (mainly Kaden). 

One scene greatly confused me for a few pages until I finally figured out what was happening. More on this in the spoiler section.

As with the other books the world-building is fantastic. We get to see more of the world, including learning more about the Skullsworn and their religious order. 

The motivations of the characters are as complex as the plot. People make, question, and regret decisions. They act in own best interests based on their information of what’s going on in the world. They lie to advantage and tell the truth when it suits them. They’re infuriating at times, and completely understandable.

It’s a great ending to an excellent series.


The scene I’m referring to above is the one where Valyn shows up again. The POV character is a boy named Valyn and at first I thought it was a flashback or a fever dream. I started to question those interpretations but it wasn’t until prince Valyn actually showed up that I fully realized my mistake. In the author’s defence, it does make sense that kids would be named after the royal family, and the descriptions clearly showed it wasn’t the prince, so the mistake is entirely my own.

I thought the end battles were surprisingly - restrained. At first I was a bit annoyed that we didn’t get to see the leach battle and get more details of some of the fights in the tower, but then I realized that by this point there’s been a lot of fighting and sometimes too much is worse than not enough. Balendin’s end was fully detailed and the struggle in the tower was heavily realized. At this point in the book, a quick resolution was really the best decision.

I would have loved a short scene at the end explaining if Gwenna and co intended (or were even able) to bring back the Kettral. With only one or two birds and a handful of people remaining I’m assuming not, but part of me was hoping they’d find a clutch of eggs and start training new recruits.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Shout-Out: Space Drifters - The Emerald Enigma by Paul Regnier

Captain Glint Starcrost is not having the carefree, adventurous life the space academy brochures promised star pilots.

Broke, with an unreliable star freighter and a bounty on his head, Glint is desperate enough to try anything. Even set out on a quest to find a fabled good luck charm, the Emerald Enigma.

Now for a crew. A passive aggressive ship computer, a peaceable alien warrior, and time-traveling teen from the past aren't what he had in mind. But they'll have to do.

The Emerald Enigma won't wait forever and neither will the bounty hunter tracking him.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Skyrim Skeletal Dragon Kit

For a while now I've wanted some sort of winged skeleton statue, whether it be a bat or a dragon, something that looked cool. Just before Christmas I found this Skyrim Skeletal Dragon kit on clearance (so the price was right too!).

The pieces came attached to a plastic frame. I wanted this to look good, so after snapping the pieces off the plastic I carefully scraped the attachment nubs off with an xacto knife.

Not all of the pieces wanted to fit together closely - one of the tail pieces and the jaw gave me some trouble - but the finished statue looks amazing.

Now to find a proper display space...

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Shout-Out: Scientific Romance: An International Anthology of Pioneering Science Fiction edited by Brian Stableford

Before the term "science fiction" was adopted in the 1920s, there were "scientific romances," tales of amazing journeys beyond the limits of the known world. Jules Verne's imaginative novels of the mid-nineteenth century met with international success, whetting the public's appetite for fantastic fiction rooted in actual fact — a craving that H. G. Wells satisfied with his visionary stories. 
This compilation presents more than two dozen early tales by Verne's and Wells's immediate predecessors, contemporaries, and descendants, focusing on the middle period, when the genre was at its most enterprising and exuberant. Originally published between 1835 and 1924, the stories offer early interpretations of the futuristic societies, rogue stars, rebellious machines, and other now-familiar themes of speculative fiction. Featured authors include Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, H. G. Wells, Jack London, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as lesser-known writers. Brian Stableford, a legendary science-fiction author and editor, selected the stories, for which he provides an informative Introduction and brief biographies for each author.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Steampunk Story Bundle

If you're looking for a batch of steampunk novels to read, Cat Rambo has curated the new Story Bundle. Sold DRM free in a pay what you want fashion (minimum $15 if you want the Bonus titles), it's a great way to check out new authors. (Book links are from the story bundle page.)

The main titles are:
The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
The Bookmanby Lavie Tidhar
City of the Saintsby D.J. Butler
All the Paths of Shadowby Frank Tuttle

The bonus titles are:
The Emperor's Edge Series: Books 1-3by Lindsay Buroker
Ghost in the Cogsedited by Scott Gable & C. Dombrowski
Blood Tiesby Quincy J. Allen
Mechaniqueby Genevieve Valentine
The SEA Is Ours - Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asiaby Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng
Best of Penny Dread Talesedited by Kevin J. Anderson and Quincy J. Allen