‘TekWar’ By William Shatner


I assume he also had the benefit of an anonymous co-writer. I remember well the placement of these books in the Dunedin Library when I was in high school and later the TV movies and series.

It isn’t good, of course, but it’s not bad. The vision of the future is surprisingly realistic and the writing not that bad. The plot keeps moving forward at a solid pace and it really resembles a Neuromancer, if it had been written by a mid-level writer of sixties pulp space opera. I even managed not to always see the actors from the series (which I watched, of course).

All told, a relief. I love Shatner and it’s pleasant to see this lark of his was not unsuccessful.

Half A King


I read an earlier Abercrombie trilogy. I gather this is the start of another. Thrilling with many twists and turns, but it ultimately felt rather lightweight for a novel in the so-called grimdark genre. If it is easy to find in the library, I may read the rest of the series, but I won’t rush to do it.

Revelation Space


I appreciated that ‘hardness’ of the science fiction, by which I mean that it doesn’t, for example, hand wave moving faster than light; travel can take centuries because ships can only approach light speed. I am most reminded of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion.

And though it may disappoint one of my closest friends, I much prefer space opera to this. It doesn’t help that none of the characters are terribly likeable. But, within the genre, I must admit it is good and if you like more scientific science fiction, you will enjoy this.

‘Jade City’ By Fonda Lee


Sort of fantasy, but not really. More like science fiction, in some ways, set on a fictional world resembling the late forties detente that followed World War II. This, perhaps, threw me off and it took me a while to get into it.

What is worthwhile is a fascinating locale, resembling an Asian nation, ostensibly a constitutional monarchy, but in reality governed by rival criminal families (I could be wrong, but it seems modeled on earlier eras in Hong Kong or Macau, when Triads had a hand in much of the economy). Also, while most of the characters are men, the one, major POV protagonist, Shae, is absolutely compelling. One wishes that the author had written more strong women into the book and that sequels will feature Shae and other women more prominently.

Raiders From The Rings


A decent, exciting yarn: pretty standard fare for sixties pulp science fiction (if you remember that most of it wasn’t written by Heinlein or Dick).

I am mostly thinking back to how many of these stories of conflict within the solar system use aliens as a deus ex machina or science fiction magic. From Agent of Chaos to the more recent Leviathan Wakes.

Richard Blade: Slave Of Sarma


I knew about Richard Blade because the first fifteen or so pages of the first Doctor Who novelizations I ever read contained an essay by Harlan Ellison extolling the virtues of the good Doctor vis-a-vis Star Trek and Star Wars and a teaser for the Richard Blade novels.

They are basically Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars novels, but with more modern pseudo-science (a fancy computer sends Blade to Dimension X, which seems normally to be a series of worlds teeming with swordplay, derring-do, and beautiful women; and also with a less chivalrous attitude towards women (did we have to know that Blade made the captured princess pee in front of him and his new friend, because they couldn’t let her out of their sight, because I know that I could have done without; likewise with Blade’s rapturous self recommendations of his own sexual prowess).

Honestly, they are not as fun as Burroughs’ planetary romances. The action doesn’t feel as lively and while Blade may be less of a goody two shoes than Burroughs’ two dimensional protagonists, he is also a grade A prof.