Review: To Honor You Call Us by H. Paul Honsinger

To Honor You Call Us by H. Paul Honsinger | 47North, 2014

While my first love is fantasy I have also grown to love military science fiction. I constantly look forward to the latest Honor Harrington novel from David Weber or Lost Fleet novel from Jack Campbell. When it comes to my military science fiction I tend to enjoy those that most strongly resemble naval warfare novels though instead of sailing the sea the ships sail between the stars. It’s a bit odd since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the patience to read say a C. S. Forester novel, but set that thing in space and suddenly I’m all in. With the advent of self-publishing there has been something of a resurgence in military science fiction with authors like Ryk Brown, Evan Currie, B. V. Larson, Thomas DePrima, Ian Douglas, not to mention countless others leading a new charge of self-published military science fiction. The relatively low cost of entry in the self-publishing world has many of those authors already having released upwards of 10 novel each over the last six years or so. With Amazon’s introduction of its 47North imprint some of these authors are getting mainstream paperback releases, and some even getting high-production audiobooks from major audiobook publishers like Tantor and Brilliance.

H. Paul Honsinger, while not as prolific in terms of output as some the aforementioned authors, has created a taught and exciting series called Man of War. The first title, To Honor You Call Us was originally released for Kindle (and via CreateSpace) in 2012 and was recently re-released via 47North (paperback) and Brilliance (audio) in 2014. To Honor You Call Us, sees brash young Captain Max Robichaux, taking command of the Terran Union destroyer USS Cumberland, a problem ship with a poor record. The Terran Union is at war with the Krag, who see the extermination of humanity as a religious necessity. Honsinger, paints the Krag as an uncompromising foe willing to go to extreme lengths to exterminate humanity from the universe. Readers, are told that early on in the war the Krag released a virulent gynophage on the human populace which ravaged the female population. This is important to note as there are almost no women in the entirety of the series since, as a result of the plague, women are no longer allowed to serve in the Navy; they are too precious to risk in combat. There is definitely some discomfort with this aspect of the novel since we don’t really know how women are treated or how they live their lives. In fact you could probably write a who novel just on the social, political, and emotional impact of a bioweapon designed to take out the female population. However, Honsinger really relegates this to the background and while it’s important to Robichaux’s history (he watched his mother and sister die, then his father slip away into depression) it doesn’t legitimately impact the events of the novel directly.

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Spell Robbers (Quantum League #1) by Matthew J. Kirby

Spell Robber (Quantum League 1) by Matthew J. Kirby | Scholastic Press, 2014

Spell Robbers is a fast paced action novel aimed at kids around 8-12 (or grades 3-7). In the novel the young Ben Warner gets invited to join an after school “science club” where he learns how to manipulate reality on a quantum level. While grounded in science, the title gives a nob to the tried (and some might say tired) adage from Arthur C. Clarke that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Overall, Kirby has penned an entertaining novel that sure to fire the imagination of children. However, Spell Robbers never really rises above the level of cool and exciting, despite the many chances it has to do so. Children’s literature, when it’s at its best, has a sort of universal appeal. As an adult I am delighted by the worlds of characters like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. There is a level of detail there that helps the fiction really stand out. It is a level detail that Spell Robbers never quite seems to rise to; though I think it could.As an action/adventure novel Spell Robbers is absolutely top-notch, but I think it definitely could have been more.

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Review: Pandemic by Scott Sigler

Pandemic by Scott Sigler | Crown, 2014

It has taken Scott Sigler quite a bit of time to finish out his Infected series.  The first two novel in the series, Infected and Contagious, were released in 2008 and I reviewed the audiobook version of both around the same time (here and here). The final volume in Sigler’s series, Pandemic, was released almost 5 years since I reviewed Contagious. I didn’t go back and take a look at the previous two volumes before jumping into Pandemic; a fact which made someone leery going into this novel. Thankfully, Pandemic is an extraordinarily approachable novel; not so approachable that it could be easily enjoyed in you missed Infected and Contagious but enough that the distance between the novels isn’t quite that noticeable. Needless to say spoilers for the first novel are ahead so consider yourselves warned.

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Not a Post About Books

So I spent the first half of this week at a convention for work called Computers in Libraries. It was an interesting time with some excellent presentations dampened only slightly by the reminder of how utterly and completely terrible I am at introducing myself to strangers even when we likely share the same professional background. Now, while I definitely love my genre fiction two of my other favorite pass times involve food and beer. Being in a new city, or at least a place where I don’t actually live, means that I get to try a bunch of local food.

The convention was held in Washington D.C. at the Washington Hilton roughly half a mile from the DuPont Circle metro station. I knew during the first morning walk to the convention that most of the places along Connecticut Ave. were either outside my budget (particularly the more local eateries) or were chain restaurants. Furthermore, the D.C. Metro isn’t really a fan of bringing drinks on the train so I had to find coffee in the morning. While there were like eight Starbucks in the half-mile to the hotel I decided I wanted avoid Starbucks in favor a more local business.

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Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King | Scribner, 2013

It took me a long time to finally sit down and read The Shining. The Shining is a multi-layered tale about hauntings both in the ghostly variety and in the sense of the past and how its influences, its echoes, stay with us through the present. The Shining is Jack Torrance’s story through and through as the Overlook hotel’s ghosts and the ghosts of his own past conspire to send him spiraling down the path to madness. Doctor Sleep is Danny Torrence’s story. While in The Shining Danny serves a vital purpose in helping build tension while simultaneously providing a means through which we can get a glimpse inside both Jack and Wendy’s heads he doesn’t really take center stage. In The Shining Danny Torrance is an innocent caught up in the whirlwind of his father’s madness. Doctor Sleep deals with the natural progression of those elements and we see Danny stepping into the shoes of his father as he desperately fights the ghosts of his own past and the strain his abilities place on his conscious.

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