Bostrom, Peter. The Last War.

Seattle: Hyperspace Media, 2017.

This is the first volume of six in a new hardcore military SF series and it’s pretty good, especially for a straight-to-Kindle project. It’s been showing up on the lock screen of my own Kindle lately, and since I’m always open to a new science fiction author — and it’s on the Kindle Unlimited free list — I thought I’d give it a shot. (“Bostrom,” by the way, appears to be a pen name for Nick Webb and whatever other author he’s sharing the work with — presumably a different one for each volume.)

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Parker, K. J. Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City.

NY: Orbit, 2019.

Under his own name, British author Tom Holt writes some pretty good historical fiction, mostly set in the ancient world, as well as some rather mediocre attempts at humor with a fantasy theme. As “K. J. Parker,” though, he has produced some first-rate epic fantasy, all of it populated only by humans (no wizards, orcs, or dragons, and absolutely no magic or supernatural goings on) and most of it with a historical feel to it.

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Kingsley, Sean A. God’s Gold: A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem.

NY HarperCollins, 2007.

Historical mysteries — unanswered questions and unsolved puzzles about dramatic events in the past — are always of interest, and the fate of the religious treasures looted by the Tenth Legion from the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is one of the best-known. The Jews, led by the Zealots, had made the mistake of rebelling against Roman rule and the Emperor Vespasian came down on them very hard. He instructed his son, Titus, to destroy the city, and he did, with most of the population being either killed outright or taken off into slavery.

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Published in: on 13 August 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Dickinson, Seth. The Monster Baru Cormorant.

NY: Tor, 2018.

When last we saw Baru Cormorant, native of a now-ruined island semi-paradise, and agent provocateur of the Imperial Republic of Falcrest, she had just betrayed the rebellion in the colonial province of Aurdwynn – a rebellion which she had fomented and then led. And she had arranged the destruction of the uprising’s aristocratic leaders, leaving a huge power vacuum, which Falcrest could now fill however it pleased.

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Published in: on 22 July 2019 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kuang, R. F. The Poppy War.

NY: Harper, 2018.

I’ve read a number of really first-rate recently-published fantasy novels in the last couple of years — two-thirds of a trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss, two books by Naomi Novik, one by Seth Dickinson, and two whole trilogies by N. K. Jemisin. And now this carefully plotted and gorgeously written book joins that group. Rebecca Kuang is Chinese-American, with a specialty in the classical literature of her native land, and that basic fact informs the whole of the story.

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Gray, Justin, Jimmy Pamliotti & Jimmy Broxton. Hugh Howey’s Wool.

NY: Jet City Comics, 2014.

When Wool was originally published a few years ago, I made several attempts to read it. I really did. I just couldn’t get past Howey’s seriously inept writing, a combination of a Fourth Grade grasp of English with a badly untutored narrative style that had never heard of “show, don’t tell.” I had finally decided that I would just never know what the story was supposed to be about.

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Lewis, Lloyd. Myths After Lincoln.

NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1929.

I received a gift card for my birthday recently for my favorite rare & used bookstore, and I finally had the chance to devote a pleasant afternoon to perusing their shelves. I ended up with a short stack of interesting finds, nearly all of them long out of print, the sort of thing you’re never going to find in a Kindle version.

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Published in: on 28 March 2019 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dickinson, Seth. The Traitor Baru Cormorant.

NY: Tor, 2015.

This marketing for this first-rate novel presented it as fantasy. The jacket illustration seems to suggest that, too, but there’s no magic or dragons or any of that, and it’s actually straightforward science fiction, apparently set on Earth in the far future. As a young girl, Baru seems to live in a very laid-back Polynesian sort of tropical island society. She has two fathers, both techie types, and her mother is a huntress. Her society has been struggling for generations to stay out of the imperialist clutches of the Imperial Republic (a/k/a “The Masquerade,” because of the facial coverings mandated for government officials) while still carrying on trade, but the agents of that widespread culture are taking over Baru’s people and world slowly but surely.

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McDevitt, Jack. A Talent for War.

NY: Ace Books, 1989.

McDevitt has written more than twenty science fiction novels now, but this early work is still one of his best. And to me, one of the most fascinating things about it is the fact that the story is set some 10,000 years in the future — but because the great war by humans against the humanoid but alien Ashiyyur took place two centuries before the narrator’s own time, it reads almost like a historical novel.

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Scalzi, John. The End of All Things.

NY: Tor, 2015.

Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War, was first-rate, not only as military SF but as a study in interstellar and interspecies political conflict. The first couple of sequels continued the story in linear fashion and were also pretty good. Then the series seemed to lose its way for awhile, finally devolving into a lengthy run of semi-independent stories, each with its own theme within the future that the author built around the Colonial Union.

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Published in: on 16 February 2019 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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