An Airless Storm

An Airless Storm follows up on the adventures of Andrew Cochrane and his security service of interstellar mercenaries. Following their initial success in funding their operations, the company has ordered more ships and larger ships. But their enemies are doing the same. The book has the same vaguely Heinlein-juvenile feel, and the plot armor is less perfect. Mostly it represents an improvement, but the ratio of people talking about their plans and engaging in covert operation shenanigans versus space battles is still pretty high. The characters are also a bit weak, with most of them feeling like masks the narrator is wearing. That's one of the fundamental risks of delivering information to the reader through characters having conversations, but it takes a bit of skill to hide.

Tue Jun 26 13:18:42 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

The Stones of Silence

Peter Grant's new novel, The Stones of Silence, is set in his science-fiction universe, sharing it with his two other series starting with Take the Star Road and War to the knife). The setup for his new series is interesting, but shares the flaws of the earlier works. In particular, the protagonist appears to wear plot armor. While his efforts to be prepared justify the resulting success, it significantly reduces the sense of peril -- not to mention the sense of realism. The story remains entertaining, but lacks a certain vigor and immediacy.

Stylistically, it's a cross between a Heinlein juvenile and one of David Webber's Honor Harrington books, except not quite as good as either.

Sun Jun 24 13:22:14 CDT 2018 by Matthew. Comments

Adapt and Overcome

There's not much to say about Adapt and Overcome (The Maxwell Saga), the third book in Peter David's series about a young man who joins the space navy and comes of age amongst a series of increasingly improbable coincidences. It's fast, reasonably fun, and the infinite improbability drive is set to just a notch below winning the lottery without buying a ticket. The author's complete failure to grasp his readers' comments about his main character's plot invincibility in prior books is a charming mirror of his main character's casual stroll through explosions, firefights and love affairs that never seem to leave a scratch on him.

Readers are unlikely to be bored, but are also unlikely to remember the plot the next day. I was hoping the author would step up his game a little bit after his first two books, since comments on his amazon page suggested he was trying to address the plot armor problem. Unfortunately, the most striking difference between this book and the previous two is the spaceship on the cover.

That said, it's a fun read, and if you liked the first two (Take The Star Road and Ride The Rising Tide) you'll like this one.

Sun May 04 13:09:29 CDT 2014 by Matthew. Comments

Ride the Rising Tide

If an allusion to Tolkien is the most common way to praise a new fantasy author, "Heinleinesque" has got to be the science fiction equivalent. The description certainly applies to Peter Maxwell's Ride the Rising Tide, which contains equal doses of space, adventure, and 60's science fiction nostalgia. It has a space navy, a plucky young protagonist eager to rise through the ranks on the strength of exceptional abilities and a sense of destiny explained only by the invisible hand of the author shaping the plot. You'll only be jolted out of the futuristic scenario by the occasional references to hypno-study courses and the undefeatable prowess of a skilled black belt in karate.

The writing is smooth and enjoyable. The plot is interesting if not exactly realistic. The main character is almost absent of personality aside from a boundless and naively enthusiastic ambition. There are no other characters, only a selection of cardboard cutouts with recorded lines.

If you read the first book, Take the Star Road, and liked it, there's more of the same here and you'll probably enjoy it too. If you didn't, start there first. This book is a sequel and does not stand alone.

Whatever you do, don't look too closely at anything. Just take your mindless enjoyment with a smile.

Wed Aug 14 05:54:37 CDT 2013 by Matthew. Comments

Take the Star Road

Have you ever wanted to strap yourself into a starship and light off the thrusters just to see where you would end up? Fight space pirates with your black belt in Karate while climbing the ranks aboard a merchant starship? How about just being an improbably nice fellow with the plot thoroughly on your side? Then this book will satisfy you. Just keep your suspension of disbelief handy, because you'll need it.

In a tale eerily reminiscent of a Heinlein space adventure juvenile, Peter Grant's Take the Star Road will let you experience space as it was meant to be. Not the cold and mechanical precision of exacting science and careful engineering to survive in a hostile environment that our own astronauts experience; no, instead space is filled with adventure, explosions, knife fights with criminal gangs, and cheerful coming-of-age tales.

Sometimes, in a review, it's important to note what a story is not as much as what that story is. In this case, this story is not:

  • realistic

  • filled with memorable characters

  • an angst-ridden tale of woe

  • a sexy romp

On the other hand, if you have a 12-year-old who doesn't know what he wants to do with his life, this might give him some ideas. And that's a good enough excuse to read it yourself, right?

Wed Aug 14 05:54:28 CDT 2013 by Matthew. Comments

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