The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Return Of The Book Posts

Posted on | May 12, 2019 | No Comments

— by Wombat-socho

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Haven’t posted about books since the end of last August, when I started on getting clear of my old apartment and into a new one. That having been dealt with, and my Uber career ended in the process, I’m going to have a lot more time to be browsing through books. Which is good for you, because then you get the benefit of my experience, which fortunately has been (mostly) good. I want to start off with a debut novel by Jeb Sherrill, Storm Dreams, which is an odd fusion of World War I and H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of Randolph Carter and the Silver Key. It’s an interesting little tale with a lot of derring-do mixed thoroughly with speculation about dreams and reality, and the things that exist on the borderline. It was occasionally slow going, but the climax of the book and its resolution were very well done, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Stephen Stirling’s Emberverse has finally wrapped up, and I managed to finish the last two novels, The Sea Peoples and The Sky-Blue Wolves, during the course of the move. These two books focus on the adventures of Prince John in the Antipodes;  in the last novel, which shows signs of being rushed, John and his companions liberate Korea from its mad ruler with the help of some renegade Mongols, and the method used owes quite a bit to John’s horrific sojourn in the nightmare lands of the Yellow King, described in The Sea Peoples. To be honest, I was a lot happier with that book than the final novel; Stirling extrapolates the unhappy future of America under its last Emperors (see “The Repairer of Reputations”, by Robert Chambers) and pulls no punches in describing it as our heroes enter it to save Prince John. This alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of the book.

While we’re talking about sequels, Nick Cole’s Pop Kult Warlord is a worthy sequel to Soda Pop Soldier,* and just about all your favorite characters are back, but the stakes are very different – instead of trying to keep his hide intact in meatspace, and win it for ColaCorp while figuring out what’s going on in the Black, Perfect Question’s already won the Big One, and he’s going to Disneyland! Well, not quite…Disneyland isn’t what it used to be, and the Arab playboy who’s hired him to play warlord for Calistan’s online attack on Mars may be the worst boss he’s ever had. Possibly the last if he’s not careful. In comparison, former Protector Ashok Vadal doesn’t have it so bad – ah, who am I kidding? The protagonist of Larry Correia’s House of Assassins is really in the shit, with practically every man’s hand against him – including his former brother Protectors – the nearly impossible task of retrieving the prophet Thera from her shapeshifting captors, and worst of all, he’s got to do it without his mighty Ancestor Blade, Angruvadal. But Ashok is a Larry Correia hero, which means he doesn’t die easy, and he doesn’t quit. Excellent follow-on to the first book.

Going in the other direction, C.J. Cherryh’s taken her time about filling in the backstory of her Alliance-Union ‘verse – there’s a huge gap between Hellburner, which deals with the training of the Earth Company Fleet, and Downbelow Station, where the EC Fleet flees in final defeat from the Alliance merchanters and the Union carriers. Alliance Rising is closer to the former than the latter – there are still STL pusher ships making the ten-year-long run from Sol Station to Alpha Station, but past Alpha and out to Cyteen, FTL ships carry all the people and the cargo. Now comes long-haul merchanter Finity’s End into Alpha, but with all cargo going to the EC’s Rights of Man, and precious little to the ships and people at Alpha, what could they be looking to buy…or sell? Cherryh has not lost her touch at juggling several plot balls at once, ranging from interstellar intrigue to dockside sleepover romances to bureaucratic infighting to prickly inter-ship (and inter-family) negotiations. I honestly can’t tell where co-author Jane Fancher picks up and Cherryh leaves off, to be honest. Anyhow, if you like her other Alliance-Union space novels, you’re going to like this one.

And I think that’s enough for this month.


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