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.


Necrolysis – Crispy Sea

August 16, 2009

This is another book I found on Authonomy, although I believe it has since been removed.  The author was kind enough to let me read the whole book, since I got hooked on it while it was available on Authonomy.  Although it could still use a little polish – there were a few spots that were overdescribed and the occasional misplaced punctuation mark on my last reading – the story is great.

 Necrolysis is set in the relatively near future, in a world struggling to deal with serious environmental problems which have made the survival of the human race questionable at best.  However, many of the worst problems are being dealt with by a company headed by a genius named Martha English.  With Martha in the lead, the company has made great headway in reducing pollution and improving medicine and longevity.  They have developed a number of new technologies including nanobots that virtually stop aging and ‘trees’ that eat contaminants in the water and air.  Things seem to be moving along swimmingly, until Martha’s second in command, Emerald McKenzie, discovers that some of the company’s facilities are secretly being used to murder citizens and harvest their parts.  Emerald uncovers a conspiracy to replace these citizens with brainwashed clones – a conspiracy led by Martha herself.  Emerald and her boyfriend go on the run and start a group called SurvivorS to try to fight back against Martha’s conspiracy.

 This is definitely not a PG book (there is a lot of violence, cursing, and a fair bit of sex), but for us grown ups it is a fast paced sci fi thriller with lots of interesting gadgets thrown in.  I definitely recommend it, and I hope it is available in bookstores soon.


What’s Authonomy good for, anyway?

January 27, 2009

Oh, right!  Getting publishing deals!

Author Miranda Dickinson was one of 3 authors who have put their work on Authonomy to get a book deal from a real live publishing company.  She wrote (is writing?) Travels With My Teapot, Or Tea Ladies Arise!, a wonderfully British sci fi comedy a la Douglas Adams (but more feminine).  Congratulations, and I can’t wait to see it in print so I can read the whole thing!


Authonomy

December 18, 2008

This is one of the best sites I’ve come across, and thanks to Crotchety Old Fan for pointing the way.

The site is set up by Harper Collins, a (British?) publishing company, for unpublished or self-published authors to get their work out there in the public eye.  The idea is that the public at large will read and review the works, and if they really like them, will add them to a personal “bookshelf”.  All the bookshelves are monitored and the more bookshelves a work is on, the higher it is ranked.  Then some of the highest ranked works are selected every month to be reviewed by the editors at Harper Collins to see if they want to offer a publishing deal.  I daresay once this gets established a bit more (it is still in beta right now) other companies may start taking a look as well.

So, the idea is fabulous.  Now for the books.

So far I have read 2 works, one an incomplete manuscript called Seeing Red by Patty Jansen.  Not a bad book, although the lack of formal editing is obvious.  Also, I was irritated that it was only a partial manuscript (this was clearly marked, I just got overexcited about my first trip to the site and didn’t read all the how-to’s).  It is a sci fi work, complete with aliens and advanced technologies and space travel.  It is definitely worth finishing if she ever posts the rest, but then I would finish almost anything just to avoid wondering if it got any better.  Ok, that is unfair.  It really is not bad, but the main character is this relatively young, idealistic diplomat caught in the middle of a huge interplanetary conflict where humans are accusing aliens of murdering the President of the Nations of Earth.  So far, so good.  But he is just so naive and it takes him so long to realize that everything is falling apart around him, and just perhaps there may be sinister motives in unexpected places, it becomes almost painful.  I do like the picture she paints of the alien cultures and people, and the way she does it.  She uses alien words in the story, then has her main character (our young diplomat) explain them in context.  I did put in on my book shelf, but I have a feeling it will be displaced quickly.

The second book, Sim by Jak Brienhead, was phenomenal.  I stayed up all night reading it, because there was never a good place to put it down, and I really wanted to know what would happen next.  I will loosely classify it as sci fi even though there is not a lot of technology in it, because the capabilities certain people, known as Path, have are due entirely to mental abilities and at no point is magic mentioned.  Brienhead starts you out with a screwed up kid on a very screwed up planet–at first it is not clear whether or not it is Earth at some point in the future (you find out later that it is not).  This kid is the unfortunate product and victim of a genetic experiment to determine if nature or nuture is more dominant in determining intelligence and success.  He is given every genetic advantage as an embryo, then placed with the worst possible parent, an abusive addict surrogate mother who only wanted him as a payday in the first place.  Then, when he still shows signs of being exceptional, the experimenter (who you never meet) hacks into the apparently global and all controlling computer system to falsify his test scores so that no matter what he does he can never score higher than 27%, which he (duh) reacts badly to.  All this leads into him being labeled a high probability for criminal behavior, and ever increasing abuse from his mother and his two older siblings.  Eventually he snaps, and uses mental abilities he didn’t know he had to escape from house arrest.  This brings him to the attention of authorities who notice something odd going on and uncover the whole experiment.  They send him to another world to give him a fresh start and allow him to be trained to use his abilities, because he is apparently the strongest Path in generations and he scares the bejesus out of everybody. 

I won’t go any farther than that because to do so would start to give away plot spoilers, and I personally don’t like book reviews that give away too much.  (I want just enough in a review to tell me whether or not I would like the book, not ruin the ending for me!)  Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed this book and would like to see more from this author, maybe more about this character (a series perhaps?).  I also highly recommend you check out Authonomy at http://www.authonomy.com/.  They have works in all genres of as far as I can tell, so even if you (shudder) don’t like science fiction, you will surely find something you enjoy.


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