Resurrection Code (Angelink Universe) by Lyda Morehouse, Mad Norwegian Press Paperback, ISBN 9781935234098, $14.95

Mouse, once known as Christian El-Aref returns to North Africa after building an empire based on free access to an underground internet called Mouse-Net. He returns to right an old wrong and to track down a friend he’d abandoned long ago. As he returns he must deal with old memories, old enemies, and old situations made new. That the angel Lucifer lives in the area along with street rats, zombies and the remains of a flooded Cairo are all complications to the task at hand.resurrection code

This is a story set in Morehouse’s AngeLINK universe. It is an origin story, a tale of the man who became a mouse and created hope in a future so dystopian that even god seems to have turned away. I had not read any of the related works and still managed to find the piece enjoyable and understandable. Maybe there were subtexts that I simply didn’t get but in terms of getting from the beginning to the end, everything I needed was there. And that path was also an enjoyable one.

Morehouse’s skill as a writer is evident in her ability to create setting and develop character. The story is straightforward but Morehouse uses flashbacks which complicate what is otherwise a pretty simple tale. It does take a bit of doing to remember the past as you are learning it while reading about the present. Personally, I prefer linear story telling. But this was fine. I thoroughly enjoyed Lucifer and the other Angels. I think Morehouse adds a twist to them that both makes sense and creates dynamic tension.
I enjoyed the book/novella. It moved right along and contained a very interesting story. As noted above, I struggled a bit with the flashbacks as I thought they interrupted flow a bit too much. I can also see why she chose that way to do it as well. It does work. I think Morehouse does a great job of balancing character and story to make the whole thing very entertaining and enjoyable. Her subject matter is fairly complex and she manages that in a very skillful way. Highly recommended and now I’m going to need to track down a publisher and have them send me the rest of the series.

To get your very own copy of the book all you have to is click here: Resurrection Code (Angelink Universe)

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The Terminal Man, Michael Chrichton, Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0061782671, 331 pgs, $7.99

Harry Benson has a medical condition. He gets seizures, uncontrollable, violent ones. He is also under police guard for attacking two people. There does not appear to be a solution. At least not until Dr. Roger McPherson, head of the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit at University Hospital in Los Angeles comes up with a procedure called Stage 3.

The Terminal Man

The procedure involves sticking electrodes into Benson’s brain and then using a computer to send monitored, soothing pulses to the pleasure centers. This should, alleviate the seizures and the attacks. the only problem is that the pulses are, indeed pleasurable and Benson soon learns how to control them. Not only can he control them but he increases their frequency, and, essentially, can use them to his advantage. But, Benson is a homicidal maniac and what he considers to be his advantage is surely going to be a disadvantage to everyone else in the city. He can be stopped. At least they think he can.

For a book that came out ten years ago this is amazingly fresh. The research that Crichton uses is still cutting edge today and the effects he details could still happen. I don’t know if this speaks more to Crichton’s ability to see that far ahead, to the field’s slowness in getting there, or to some ethical consideration that may have stepped in a stopped things from getting this far along. Whatever the case the book is as relevant now as it was then.

Simply put,if you like Crichton then you’ll like this book. His ability to take a simple idea and then project it forward to dire consequences is showcased perfectly here. The tight plotting and driven characterization is also present leaving you with a book that is fascinating and hard to put down. A must read for all Crichton fans and not a bad book if you’ve not read any Crichton up to this point. Interesting, twisted, driven and more entertaining than you would imagine. Highly recommended.

To get your very own copy, click here:Terminal Man

Deep Space: Star Carrier, Ian Douglas, Harper Voyager, ISBN 978-0-06-218380-4, 355 pgs., $7.99

Twenty years have passed since Admiral Alexander Koenig’s daring assault on the Sh’daar created a halt in the interstellar war being waged. The star carrierSh’daar,Image a collective race left behind when most of their species shifted to apparent godhood, have religiously stamped out any advance in technology beyond a certain point. Koenig’s discovery of their secrets, coupled with a daring raid almost to their homeworld, created the peace that has been eyed suspiciously since. Koenig is now president and John Gray, the fighter pilot who helped secure that victory is now commander of the America battle group. But the peace is not just uneasy among the stars. On earth the confederation is about to go to war with the North American alliance over control of resources. As a new menace enters the picture and the Sh’daar prepare to launch a new attack, civil war breaks out in the solar system. Fighting breaks out everywhere with little planning and little thought to what the future might be holding in store.

This if the fourth book in the Star Carrier series and Douglas has lost none of his stride. Sure some of the battle sequences are a bit redundant at this point but how many different ways can you describe fighter combat? This is space war and Douglas does an excellent job of detailing some of the strategic and tactical issues as well as the communication problems that arise when trying to fight in vacuum. Physics, in many ways, is not your friend in space. That’s not saying you can’t use it to your advantage.

The only issue I really had was I am not sure, given the technology that is proposed, that humans are still needed to pilot fighters. Seems to me that with all the AIs and the computers and composite materials, the human factor is the weak point. Douglas does address this early on in the book but it’s still a weak link.

I enjoyed the book as much as I have enjoyed the series and I look forward to seeing more from Douglas. Definitely recommended and if you’d like to get your own copy you can find it here:Deep Space: Star Carrier: Book Four

The Best of All Possible Worlds, Karen Lord, Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-345-53405-7, $25.00, 307 pgs.

Photo of Cygnus constellation

Photo of Cygnus constellation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sadiri homeworld is no more–destroyed, taking all of the inhabitants with it. The Sadiri that remain are those that were off world, those on research trips, those off working as pilots, and those off meditating. Most of them men, which makes trying to preserve their way of life definitely complicated.  If they do nothing they essentially die out.  but, if they marry women from other cultures then their way of life will be changed.  It’s a classic no win situation.

The book follows Delarua who is assigned to work with Dllanahkh, a Sadiri tasked with figuring out which path their race should take in order to keep their culture alive.  Part of this process is a road trip to the different cultures on Cygnus Beta, a Terran populated planet but a planet that also contains some taSadiri, those who do not practice the mental exercised of the Sadiri but who are, nonetheless, genetically similar.  As Delarua and Dllanahkh set off on this year long trip across the planet, visiting enclaves here and there and becoming more knowledgeable about each other the story of the Sadiri also unfolds.

Lord has constructed an interesting premise, populated it with interesting characters and then build a world within which they interact. It’s quite well done and very interesting.  The nature of the conflicts and the decision points for the protagonists often put them in untenable situations with no real win in the offing.  It’s creating and entertaining at the same time.  If I had to characterize it I would say it’s a cross between character driven SF and setting driven SF.  Imagine Bradbury crossed with Leguin.

I enjoyed the book and found the writing to be intelligent and and the premise interesting and challenging.  Lord paces the novel perfectly from beginning to end.  There are one or two surprises along the way and the ending builds but is not anticipated.  Definitely recommended.  And, if you want to get a copy all for yourself, you should click here: The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel

Nexus, Ramez Naam, Angry Robot, ISBN 978085762934, 466 pgs, $14.99

Birds, Pigs and the mediator (Asi Cohen) posed...

Birds, Pigs and the mediator (Asi Cohen) posed for a photo shortly before talks broke down. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the very near future someone has figured out how to load application software into the human brain. As part of this process new drugs are coming on the scene–drugs like Nexus, which open up the mind, enabling multiple users who have taken the drug, to link together in mind to mind contact. It’s a new science and governments as well as organizations are reacting to it very differently. The US has banned it and it vigorously tracking down users while at the same time trying to figure out how best to use it for their own advantages. Many scientists are excited by the prospects both in terms of unleashing potential but also in terms of being able to use this new ability to heal minds and cure mental traumas. And, of course, there are a few who see unlimited potential in this process for mind control, weaponization, and evil. Kade, as a young scientist, sees only potential and fun. As one of the developers of a process to use Nexus as an interface for alternative neural programming, Kade and his research team have big plans for the future. But, the US government has different plans and when Kade and most of his team are busted during one of their ‘test’ parties, Kade is forced to agree to doing some behind the scenes intelligence gathering at an upcoming conference. The US wants information about some of the international players and they see Kade as the perfect opportunity to leverage their way in. For Kade it is more about getting his friends out of trouble and, truth be told, a bit of excitement at being able to communicate with some of the leaders in the new field of neural access. But the international arena is a bit broader than anyone imagines and research has gone deeper and wider than anyone imagined. So, Kade finds himself on a fast track of desperation as he tries to keep himself alive, the US satisfied and his curiosity in check.

This is an interesting book with an interesting premise.  The idea that there will be a computer (read smart phone) brain interface and that applications will be loaded directly to your mind is probably not as far off as you might think, or hope.  Imagine the trouble you have now with applications on your smart phone and then imagine these problems in your own head.  Conversely, imagine the richness of this connection as
Angry Birds is able to use the full processing power of your brain to bring the game to the next level.  It’s a whole new level of fun, frolic and psychosis as developers, researchers, implementers and advertisers all vie to new ways to get into your head.

This is Naam’s first book of fiction although it is not his first book, which was a non-fiction effort on, you guessed it, biological enhancement.  Still this is a well written book, fun with an interesting premise and a very thought provoking concept that should keep you thinking well beyond the ending.  There’s action and tight escapes along with just enough expository science to keep you in the know.  The characters are engaging and motivated through different vehicles and pasts so it all works in one cohesive whole.  I enjoyed it pretty much cover to cover and I think there’s enough talent here to make me want to see the next book, assuming there is a next book, from this author.

Recommended for the concept and the way Naam plays with the future as well as for the entertainment value.  And, if you’d like to get a copy for yourself, there is no better place to go than here: Nexus

By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War: Book I, Joseph Nassise, Harpoer, ISBN 0-06-204875-2, 345 pgs., $14.99

The Red Baron

The Red Baron (Photo credit: jarrodvk)

It’s 1917 and the Kaiser‘s scientist’s have stumbled on a new type of gas to be used in the trenches–one that turns the dead into zombies. They’ve also discovered that if they use it on a battlefield devoid of their own living then all of the reborn dead attack those who are living, primarily the enemy soldiers. But there’s an oddity as well, and that is that occasionally, one of the new-born dead remains conscious of thought. One of these is the Red Barron, who continues to fly and shoot down British planes even though he died in a crash. When veteran American Ace, Major Jack Freeman is downed behind enemy lines and taken captive, Captain Michael, Madman Burke is recruited to go in and get him back.  Burke, and his merry band of oddball madmen, have to work their way behind enemy lines, break into a prison camp, and then return with Freeman to the allied front.

Okay, so Zombies in World War One may be stretching the whole zombie experience a bit too far, but, hey, if it’s fun then it’s worth it.  Nassise does a credible job with taking what could be just a really silly premise and keeping it pretty straightforward.  A couple of the characters are pretty stereotypical but no more so than you would find in any war movie of the period.  Making the Red Barron one of the aware zombies is a bit of a stroke of positive intelligence as you get not only a known name villain but a pivot point for some of the action.

It’s an interesting book, entertaining, fairly tight in it’s plotting with decent characters.  There is one major error in the book however. At one point the allies have one of the bad guys tied to a chair in the prisoner of war camp and they are working him over for information.  One of the Americans says, “let’s shoot him.”  And then there’s a noise outside, they leave the room.  Never to return.  I assume the guy is still sitting there, tied to that chair.  Kind of a bone head error.  I assume the book was read at least 3 times for errors so it got through each time. I read that passage 5 times just because I was sure I was missing something, some word, some thought, that would make this behavior okay.  Nope, not in there.  Ah, well, I suppose when zombies are involved you have to expect the occasional brain error.

I’d recommend it but only conditionally. If you’re not a zombie fan then there’s not going to be much here for you.  Otherwise, it’s worth picking up.

And, to get your own copy, just click here: By the Blood of Heroes: The Great Undead War: Book I

The Games, Ted Kosmatka, Del Rey books, ISBN 978-0-345-52661-8, $25.00, 360 pgs.

English: The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, ...

English: The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, outside the provincial legislature of British Columbia, in recognition of Vancouver’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Olympic Games now includes an event that involves each country entering a genetically modified/created being to fight to the death.   There is one rule: no human DNA can be used.  Last thing standing wins. Silas Willams is the geneticist in charge of the Unites States entry.  He’s a past winner.  In fact he’s never lost.  But the other countries are making gains and he knows that if he is to win in this year’s games he will have to come up with something totally unseen before.  The use of a super computer generates genetic code for a gladiator that is incredibly strong, amazingly fast, and, intelligent.  But the computer has created something that none of them truly understand and, as it grows, Silas worries that they may have created something that none of them can control.  With the help of Vidonia Joao, a xenobiologist, Silas hopes to find answers before the creature reaches it’s full potential.  The problem is, it may already be too late.  The creature breaks free of the Olympic cage and begins a cross country rampage.  Now it’s up to Silas and Vidonia to try to stop it.

There are one or two suspensions of belief that you have to have in order to be able to read this book.  First, you have to believe that the Olympics would somehow allow a sport based on genetics into the games, and then allow that sport to be a fight to the death.  Second, you have to believe that a society would allow genetic research to be used for this as well.  If you can get past those two, rather large, suspensions, then you might find yourself enthralled.  Now, granted, fiction is all about suspension of belief.  And it’s the job of the writer to make that suspension as simple and easy as possible.  This is typically done through good world-building or good storytelling.  Most people didn’t mind too much that Lucas had his spaceships function in two dimensions and make swooshing noises in space because they got caught up in the story he was telling.  It’s the same here. The more you are able to fall into the details of the fiction the more willing you are to suspend your belief.

Kosmatka does a good job with the story telling.  His characters are interesting and believable in their actions, the premise manages to hang together, the pacing is fairly fast, and the concept is intriguing.  If you enjoy beasts battling each other in an arena then you’ll no doubt want to get a copy of this book.  If you enjoy Frankenstein scenarios then you’ll enjoy it as well.  And, if you’re looking for a good, old fashioned SF yarn then you should check it out as well. I found it to be pretty entertaining and that’s what I’m looking for in books, for the most part, these days.

If you want to get your own copy you should go here: The Games