The A-Men – John Trevillian

January 15, 2011

I love this blog.  Really, I do.  I get to share my opinion about books and any other random thoughts I want with all you wonderful readers, and people send me books to review.  Seriously, they just send them to me.  It’s great, especially when they are good books.  Occasionally they are only mediocre books, or entertaining but not thought provoking books, or would be great with better editing books…so yeah, there is a downside, since I still feel obligated to read and post about them (fortunately I have yet to receive a bad book).  But that isn’t the case today.

Today I finished reading The A-Men by John Trevillian, the first book in a trilogy.  First of all, he has the coolest name I’ve run across in a while.  Second, he has a fast paced writing style that kept me interested the whole time – this is one of those books I finished in one day.  There were no lags, no places where it seemed like a good time to take a break.  In fact, my little guy was wondering why I had my nose in the book all day!  And third, he has created a cast of characters that keep me guessing.

The A-Men is set in a future Earth, in a dystopian society where governments are largely useless and a handful of major corporations run the world.  The book cuts between five major characters, each chapter focusing on one of them.  It is told from first person point of view, but each chapter is titled with the name of the character who is speaking, so it is less confusing than you might think.  There is D’Alessandro, a scientist developing the X-Isle project – using the brain of a whale to power an organic computer and create a new sort of virtual world – unaware that most of ‘civilization’ has left Earth and moved into massive space stations orbiting the planet.  And Pure, a young woman on the ground who gets caught up in the collapse all around her.  And Sister Midnight, a soldier trying to survive after being sent to keep order on the planet while the corporations pulled out, then abandoned by her own leaders.  And 23rdxenturyboy, an experiment in combining human and animal DNA – more human than not, he escaped from the lab he was being held in along with another prisoner.  And lastly, Nowhereman, also called Jack, who erased his own memory after setting himself up to be in the group of soldiers sent planetside.   The characters are eventually brought together as they struggle to survive, and to understand their situation.

The A-Men is action packed and exciting, and while it may not be deeply thought provoking, it will certainly keep the mind busy with all it’s twists and turns.  My only complaint is that it ends rather abruptly, with a lot of unresolved issues.  So if you read The A-Men, plan on reading The A-Men Return and A-Men Forever as well.  I certainly do.


Night of the Living Trekkies – Anderson and Stall

December 9, 2010

I got this book from Quirk Marketing several months ago, and have been putting off writing a review even though I read it fairly quickly.  I wasn’t quite sure what to say, you see.

Night of the Living Trekkies creates an original story with zombies rather than taking a preexisting story and adding zombies.  Even so, it is a predictable zombie mashup.  The main character, Jim, is an ex soldier with war issues now working as a hotel clerk.  He used to be a huge Trekkie (the book says Trekkie, not Trekker as most true fans prefer, but I try not to hold that against it) but afore-mentioned war issues have drained him of the hope for the future inherent in Star Trek.  So he is less than thrilled when the hotel hosts a Star Trek convention.

The convention is just the start of his bad day though.  It turns out this particular convention is a cover for government scientists to meet and discuss findings from the study of an extraterrestrial life form found several years ago.   Then it turns out the scientists’ meeting is a cover for one single scientist who has been infected and changed by the life form to work on said life form’s behalf in infecting the world at large.  The infection turns 95% of humans into – you guessed it – ZOMBIES!  But those few who are infected but not zombified become an intelligent carrier for the alien life form so it can spread and (gasp!) take over the planet.

Of course Jim, his sister, his new-found lady love, and a few friends save the day – though not without a few casualties.  It was a cute book, fun for a quick read while relaxing by the pool if you like zombies and/or Star Trek, but not one I’d rush out to buy.


Jet Packs – Finally!

August 29, 2010

I finally feel like the 21st century has arrived!  I still don’t have my flying car, but at least I know I can by my jet pack (as soon as I win the lottery).  According to this Popular Mechanics article, I can get my very own jet pack plus flying lessons for a measly $155k.  And with two companies offering them for sale already, market forces may push down that price point to a more affordable $100k in the next few years.


I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

August 15, 2010

Did you like the tv series Roswell?  Then I Am Number Four should be right up your alley.  Four is definitely aimed at the teen crowd, featuring teens as the lead characters, lots of super-powered action, and a fair bit of young love.  It is supposedly authored by Pittacus Lore, who is actually a character in the book.  (Neat shtick, I’ll be interested to see how it plays out in the long run.)

Four starts with a teenage boy and a man in a hut in the jungle.  The man is killed, the boy runs for his life, but he doesn’t make it far.  We then cut to another teenage boy at a pool party in Florida, who suddenly has a burning pain around his ankle as a charm warns him that another of his kind has been killed.  This is our introduction to Number Four, who we come to know as John, an alien refugee whose race was nearly exterminated by a terrible enemy race.  His race, the Lorien, is divided into to castes that worked together – the Garde, who have special abilities, the Cepan who help and teach the Garde, and run the government of the planet.  Nine Garde children escaped on a ship to Earth, each with an adult Cepan to protect them and teach them until their abilities or legacies manifest when they are teens.  It appears they are the only Loriens left.  We follow John and his guardian, Henri, as they continue to run and hide, waiting for John’s legacies (read superpowers) to develop and preparing for the day when they will fight to reclaim their planet.

As his powers develop, John begins training to fight the enemy – the Mogadorians.  He also manages to fall in love with a human girl and become best friends with a schoolmate who believes his father was abducted by aliens.  Henri remains vigilant, always watching for signs the Mogadorians may have found them, even as John begins to resist the idea of running again.  News comes from an unusual source – John’s alien obsessed best friend has a newsletter that has an article about Mogadorians planning to invade Earth.  When Henri goes to check it out, the Mogadorians pick up their trail and they and their human friends have to fight for their lives against a horde of alien monsters.  That fight by sucking the life out of everything around them – their weapons are literally powered by the life force of surrounding trees and plants.

The plot is a bit far-fetched, a lot more fantasy than science fiction, but it is fast paced and easy to read.  There is enough allegory to support a deeper read if you work for it (the Mogadorians attacked the Lorien to steal their resources because they poisoned their own planet but still refused to give up their lifestyle and develop different technologies – their planet died despite the influx of materials from the conquered planet) and there are some touching moments between fight scenes.  There is also a good hook to lead you into the next book – it is obviously a series.


Inferno – Todd Riemer

August 6, 2010

What would Philip K Dick and Stephen King’s love child look like if it grew up reading 1984 and watching Saw movies?  Probably a lot like Inferno by Todd Riemer. There is the decaying dystopian society with requisite brutality and opression, a demon spirit and the ghost of a dead lover caught between two worlds, and well-crafted though rather graphic scenes of torture and abuse.  This book is not for the faint of heart but it does have nice, tight prose and good imagery.

The hero of our story, Blum, tells us of his experiences through flashbacks and real time narration.  We first meet him in a dream (which honestly put me off a bit, because I didn’t realize it was a dream at first and it seemed incomprehensible, but eventually I read past the first page and it started to make sense).  We discover he has been imprisoned for years for rebellion against the oppressive regime that murdered his lover, who was at the time pregnant with his child.  We follow him through escape, return, capture, resistance, and another insurrection.  Along the way we discover he is being manipulated by a demon spirit called the Midnight Man who hopes to corrupt Blum completely so that he can take the Midnight Man’s place as a tortured and miserable ruler of hell.  The Midnight Man holds the ghost of Blum’s lover hostage in the fires, where she will remain until Blum kills her murderers, thereby freeing her to be reborn into a new life.

Inferno is Riemer’s first novel, and is self published.  Most of the time I am leery of self published books, because they tend to have grammar and punctuation errors that drive me nuts – more so than books from major publishers with copy editors.  I was pleasantly surprised that that was not an issue with Inferno, although it has a unique, almost stream-of-consciousness, style that took some getting used to.  Once I adjusted to the style, I quickly got caught up in the imagery of the book.  If you enjoy dark stories and don’t mind graphic violence, this is a good read with redemption and a little nugget of hope at the end.

For those of you who prefer a multimedia experience, Riemer also has a website here for all things Inferno.


Waves of Hawaii

May 17, 2010

Clark Little, a photographer in Hawaii, has some of the most incredible photographs I’ve ever seen.  He gets inside the waves – literally taking photos in the water as the waves crash over him – to shoot a perspective most people have never seen.  Check out his gallery here.  Blue Night is my favorite so far.  Sadly, I can’t copy and paste the images, else I would give you a taste to entice you.


Black Hawks From a Blue Sun

May 16, 2010

Black Hawks From a Blue Sun by Allen Farnham is the sequel to Angry Ghosts, a book I found on Authonomy ages ago.  It was published last year, and I was thrilled to get a copy.  Anyone who is motivated enough can find the review from when I first found it on Authonomy here.  Also, Angry Ghosts was renamed Wraiths of Earth when it was republished, so if you are just now discovering this very promising series make sure you look for it under the new title.

So anyway, when Allen emailed to let me know the sequel was finally ready (don’t you just hate having to wait for the next book!) I jumped on the chance to snag a copy for review.

Black Hawks picks up where Angry Ghosts left off, with a 3 man team from Cadre One dispatched to Earth using information about the planet provided by the colonists.  The team of Gun Thompson, Brick Argo, and Geek Beckert, all familiar characters from the first book, carries the hopes of both surviving groups of humans to make a permanent, sustainable home again.  Their mission:  find out if the alien attackers who wiped out humanity are still there.  No suspense on that point, we find out immediately that the blueskins have set up a colony.  We follow the team as they explore what is left of their ruined homeworld, which no human has set foot on for nearly 1000 years, and launch a guerrilla assault on the blueskins to reek as much havoc as possible in the short time available to them.  In the process we learn that there was also a Cadre Two, and that humans actually started the war with the blueskins.

Black Hawks is fast paced with a lot of action, but Farnham also takes time to explore the reactions of the individual team members as they encounter artifacts from a mostly forgotten past.  It is a good, quick read that offers a little meat to ponder while I wait for the next volume.


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