Posted on | July 2, 2014 | 15 Comments
You got it.
This week, we have a plethora of novels filled with (more than) a bit of the old ultra-violence, ranging from the retail death and destruction dealt by Agent Franks of the Monster Control Bureau in Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nemesis through the horrific carnage in Tom Kratman’s The Rods and the Axe to the world-wrecking war depicted in Christopher Nuttall’s The Trafalgar Gambit, which wraps up the trilogy begun in Ark Royal.
Before all that, though, I want to put in a good word for Andy Weir’s The Martian, a good old-fashioned hard-SF epic about an astronaut marooned on Mars after his crewmates leave him for dead during a sandstorm. Not only is our hero not dead, he manages to kludge together the tools he needs to survive and communicate with NASA back on Earth. It’s a gripping tale of survival, bureaucratic and technical struggle, and humorous touches. Hard to believe the legacy publishers turned this down – no, actually, these days it’s not surprising at all. Currently marked down to about $5 and very much worth it.
Now let us praise famous monsters, particularly Agent Franks of the Federal Monster Control Bureau. Longtime readers of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series (first three books helpfully collected in The Monster Hunters) will be familiar with the Frankenstein Monster of few words who serves as the nigh-unstoppable strong right fist of the MCB, and probably have mixed emotions about the construct sworn to defend America by Ben Franklin himself. Franks has long had just one condition on his contract: that the United States never attempt to build another construct like him. When the manipulative head of Special Task Force Unicorn breaks the contract and frames Franks for a rampage in MCB headquarters, that contract is broken, and Franks sets out on what may be his last mission: destroy the “improved” constructs created by Project Nemesis. It turns out there’s a lot more to Agent Franks than anyone (except possibly that sly rogue Franklin) ever suspected, and it all makes for a gripping tale that you should definitely make time for. Five stars and a strong recommendation; I have no idea how the International Lord of Hate is going to top this, but in the meantime, if you want to get yourself an autographed copy, he’s currently on tour doing signings, starting tomorrow at Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis.
The Rods and the Axe is the most recent novel in the series that began with A Desert Called Peace, which on one level is about the seemingly suicidal war between Balboa (Panama) and the Tauran (European) Union, a war which Balboa has inexplicably widened to include Zhong Guo (China). Patricio Carrera is playing more than one game, though; while Balboa’s nation in arms digs in to defend itself and bleed the TU and the Zhong white, Carrera is playing a longer game against the United Nations Peace Fleet, whose Admiral Wallenstein has clawed herself up from little better than a sex toy to last defender of the corrupt oligarchy that rules Earth. A good read; if you enjoyed the first five books in the series, this will be right up your alley, and if you’re not sure this is your cup of tea, well, you can always try A Desert Called Peace for free and see if it is. As usual, Kratman pulls no punches in his descriptions of modern combat and the people who fight it. Recommended.
When we last left the British space carrier Ark Royal at the end of The Nelson Touch, the battered old carrier and her crew had returned to an Earth heavily damaged by an alien attack after losing a prince of the royal family who’d become a fighter pilot under an assumed name. Humanity is on the edge of losing the war, and survival may depend on whether our diplomats can help the aliens’ peace faction to prevail – or whether a doomsday bioweapon will have to be unleashed. Meanwhile, the Ark Royal’s CAG is being blackmailed – but by who? There’s a lot going on in The Trafalgar Gambit, and while I’m not sure I like the ending, it’s still a rather good space opera, well worth your time and money.
There’s a new Laundry novel out (The Rhesus Chart) but I think I can wait until that shows up in the library.