‘TekLab’ By William Shatner (But Not Really)


This third Tek novel combines cyberpunk neo-noir with kitchen sink melodrama and denouement that’s so bats–t crazy that words fail me, but it does involved star crossed teenage lovers, a vengeful android in the shape of his creator’s dead brother, and a drug trade funded terrorist organization devoted to placing England under the presumably benevolent rule of King Arthur II. And I guess they decided to end the novel without talking about how the hero slept with his girlfriend’s friend (who also built the homicidal android), so I guess that means she never finds out and monogamy is overrated in the future.

TekLords


I have to say, despite all the conditional praise I am inclined to heap upon TekLords, it ends with the most ridiculous deus ex machina since Russia made Trump president of the United States. The hero, handsome, yet weather beaten Jake Cardigan, launches an attack on the cartel’s headquarters but fails to find the cure to the plague afflicting. Don’t worry says his private investigator partner, Sid Gomez, I found everything we need in that room over there.

That being said, it is surprisingly good. I would actually classify it as being almost lighthearted cyberpunk wrapped around a detective novel (it’s too breezy to be noir).

I have learned that the actual ghostwriter was Ron Goulart (I wasn’t sure when I read TekWar, who I have never read under his own name. I’m a little sad to know for almost certain that William Shatner didn’t write it, but that should in no way detract from his overall awesomeness nor from the absolute fact that he was the greatest Star Trek captain. Only children don’t understand this.

My praise of TekLords brings to mind what I said recently about the high standards I have for literary fiction. This paperback throwaway is not half as good as Essex Serpent, but they are not competing on the same playing field and are, perhaps, entirely different sports (one is tennis and the other professional wrestling?). But is this the right attitude to have?

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The Dragon Republic


Like the first book, The Dragon Republic was good, but for my personal appreciation, a victim of its own hype. It’s good, but not as good as the buzz surrounding it.

The political machinations are fascinating, but the landscape seems undercooked. I have a good sense for the point of view character’s internal life, but no real sense of what anyone looked like. I don’t need to detailed pictures, but for whatever reason, I just couldn’t see these people in my mind.

The various stand-ins for real world nations and peoples (China under one of the less successful dynasties; imperial Japan; European colonizers) are too obvious to make the world feel totally real to me.

But it’s still better than most of what’s out there and it’s not fair to expect so much than I expect out of less ambitious and less promoted books and I will probably read the third book when it comes out.

Krondor The Betrayal


Krondor the Betrayal doesn’t have a colon, despite obviously needing one. It is very much like the other Raymond Feist I have read, only even more in debt to Dungeons & Dragons rules and tropes.

Fast moving. Better at the beginning than the end. Nothing special.

‘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.