The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner | Delacorte, 2009

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner has received some attention as of late thanks to its relatively successful film adaptation. A fact I’m aware of because I am, quite possibly, the only 31-year-old male who watches the star, Dylan O’Brien, on MTV’s Teen Wolf. I find this fact only mildly embarrassing. I read Dashner’s newer science fiction novel, The Eye of Minds, not too long ago and while I wasn’t enamored with the novel I at least found it enjoyable. I have similar feelings towards Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

Looking at the Young Adult/Teen novel market I consistently get the impression that its primary audience is female. From an anecdotal perspective I get the impression that females, by and large, a willing to read a broader spectrum of novels then males. Indeed the very fact that there is an entire body of academic work on young male literacy, and at least two popular movement dedicated towards advancing literacy in boys (check out Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read for an excellent example) sheds light on why teen novels seem to trend towards a more female audience. I am perhaps a little off topic here but novels like The Maze Runner, with its almost entirely male cast, are the exception in the teen world particularly when looking at teen speculative fiction.

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Review: The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher | Tor Books, 2014

Before reading this review you should all understand that one of my favorite movies is Event Horizon. For those who aren’t familiar, Event Horizon, is essentially a haunted house story set in space wherein an intrepid group of spacers investigate the titular ship, the Event Horizon, which years ago mysteriously disappeared during the test of the first FTL drive. Event Horizon isn’t a great movie but much like Alien it combines science fiction and horror in a fun and entertaining manner (see also: PandorumEden Log, and Europa Report). As such the blending of science fiction and horror has always been one of my favorite areas of genre fiction (I do less well with video games, I’m looking at you Dead Space). I say all this to warn you that my look at Adam Christopher’s The Burning Dark is not going to be through a completely objective lens.


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Review: Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach

Honor’s Knight by Rachel Back | Orbit, 2014

Fortune’s Pawn was a an exciting and entertaining read featuring a strong and capable heroine in the form of Paradoxian mercenary Devi Morris. Devi returns in Honor’s Knight and Bach amps things up somewhere close to 11 for this sci-fi action outing. In the process Bach somehow manages to improve upon the already excellent Fortune’s Pawn in almost every conceivable way. If you’ve yet to read Fortune’s Pawn and you like action-packed science fiction with a strong female you should go do that now…there are definitely spoilers ahead.

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Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach | Orbit, 2013

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach is like a love letter to all the tons of cool things you can do with science fiction. Devianna “Devi” Morris is a power armored space marine whose career has peaked in her current position. Devi is ambitious and she wants to server with the elite of Emperor’s soldiers but to do that she has to prove her worth. Enter The Glorious Fool a ship whose service record is so perilous that 1 year about her is worth 5 years of experience anywhere else. Devi, anxious to prove herself, signs up for what turns out to be a tour both more mysterious and more perilous than even she could have imagined.

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Review: The Human Division by John Scalzi

The Human Division by John Scalzi
Audible Frontiers, 2013

The Human Division is at equal measures a thrilling absolutely engaging novel and at other times wholly frustrating. By and large the latter wins out over the former and I’m willing to say that The Human Division is Scalzi at the top of his game. Originally published as a series of e-book “episodes” from January through April of 2013 The Human Division was released in its entirety in May. The Human Division encompases both the tradition of the serial novel and the advances in the series format prompted by the changing world of media entertainment (primarily television but there is a moment here and there that reminded of “the issue where the X-men play a team sport”). The Human Division typically follows a stable cast of characters with relatively few diversion from the core protagonists typically Colonial Union’s diplomatic outcasts of the Clarke advised by CDF officer Lieutenant Harry Wilson.

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Review: Into the Black: Odyssey One by Even Currie

Into the Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie
Into the Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie

Into the Black: Odyssey One
Evan Currie, read by Benjamin Darcie
Brilliance Audio, 2012

Evan Currie’s military science fiction space opera novel Into the Black: Odyssey One, originally self-published, was released by Amazon’s new imprint 47north back in March. The novel centers around the exploration crew of the titular Odyssey One, Earth’s first interstellar spaceship, as they embark on the first manned journey beyond the bounds of the Milky Way. The discovery of the new Transition Drive and the creation of the Odyssey One finally saw the end to a decades long war. Of course it isn’t long into this journey that the Odyssey stumbles into a new and more dangerous threat, and that is where the novel’s story truly kicks off.

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Review: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Richard Paul Evans, read by Fred Berman

Simon and Scuster Audio, 2011

I’m always looking for a good book from the Young Adult world. Sometimes I’m looking for an easy straightforward read, sometimes I’m looking to see what sort of new experimentation is being done in the youth market, and sometimes I just want to know what all the hype is about. My experience with Richard Paul Evans’ Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 definitely falls into that first category. The titular Michael Vey is a young man with Tourette’s syndrome who is constantly bullied in school and who even the administration has a hard time believing isn’t the cause of all of his own troubles. Of course, Michael is hiding a secret–he is charged with electricity, able to conduct and store electrical currents. He thinks he is the only “freak” until he finds out the schools prettiest cheerleader, Taylor, has powers as well (also based in electricity but in a different way). With the help of his best friend Ostin, Michael and Taylor set forth to discover exactly who and what they are.

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Review: Immobility by Brian Evenson

Immobility by Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson
Tor, 2012

Some books have a distinct message. Some books are just out to have fun. Some books are just out to tell an interesting story. In my experience more often than not novels with a dystopian and frequently post-apocalyptic aspect tend to borrow heavily from that first goal. A Canticle for Leibowitz looks at the inevitability of mankind’s self destruction, Earth Abides looks at the removal of social barriers and shift of historical memory over time, Level 7 looks at the notion of mutually assured destruction, while books like Swan Song and The Stand take the apocalypse to look at classic battle of good versus evil. There are countless others many falling into the realm of cautionary tales. However, post-apocalyptic fiction can just as easily be used to tell pure adventure stories such as Zelazny’s Damnation Alley or the Mad Max films. Brian Evenson’s Immobility is a strange mix of several of these elements. Set in a post-apocalyptic society couched in the airs of a dystopia yet at the same time a novel of discovery and confusion.

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Review: The Games by Ted Kosmatka

The Games by Ted Kosmatka
The Games by Ted Kosmatka

The Games
Ted Kosmatka
Del Rey, 2012

The Games by Ted Kosmatka is a sciencefiction thriller that actually leans more heavily on the science part them my initial impressions lead me to believe. In a near future the advancement of genetic science is promoted and funded in part by a no holds barred death sport held during the Summer Olympic games. Each country breeds, cross breeds, and outright designs a creature to compete in this sport with the winner receiving prestige, and an influx of cash via publicity and investment.

The Games opens with a desperate bid for supremacy by the corporation behind the American Gladiator project. Rather then leave the genetic design in the hands of the scientists it is instead handed over to an experimental supercomputer. The result is something entirely new. The American scientists and animal handlers, led by Silas Williams, must attempt to understand this new creature. Flummoxed by its bizarre genetic makeup and strange physiology Williams also enlists the aid of an attractive xenobiologist, Vidonia João. As the team delves into the creatures training it becomes readily apparent that it far stranger and far deadlier then they could of dreamed.

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A look at John C. Wright’s Count to Trillion

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright

Count to a Trillion
John C. Wright
Tor, 2011

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright is the first in a new transhumanist space opera series. The novel follows Menelaus Montrose, resident of the war ravaged Texus and a lawyer (disputes are arbited via pistol duels so there is very little traditional law infvolved) as well as a math genius. Montrose is recurited for a space mission to investigate a mysterious alien monolith. It is on this mission that Montrose believing that only a scientifically accelerated mind, a posthuman mind, can decipher the artifact injects himself with a specially developed serum designed to unlock his mind’s true potential. Driven mad by the process Montrose awakens almost two centuries later to a world vastly different from the one he knew.

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