Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Club - June 2015 Reading List

Mostly pretty recent books read in June. Let's gt right to it.

The Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper
In a solar system settled long ago from Earth, humans have split into two competing groups, those who wished to augment their minds and bodies with machinery, surgery and genetics into barely recognizably human and those who preferred to remain mostly human. A war many years ago between the two groups forced the more adventurous out into the darker reaches of the solar system. In the inner system, the earth-like planet they all call home is now a reserve where dedicated men and women worked to restore the planet to a more natural state after centuries of industrialization. The bulk of humanity lives in glittering space stations orbiting the sun. The story concerns three people, two women friends who live in space and a man from the planet. They are more or less ordinary people who get caught up in a new struggle with the modified humans from the dark. This is a 2-part sequel to another 2-part book which details the earlier history of this solar system but it stands alone pretty well. It's well written, the characters are believable and how they react to the new situation and grow into their new rolls is well written. Recommended.

The Machine Awakes by Adam Christopher
This book is set in the same universe as an earlier book by Christopher ("The Burning Dark") which I haven't read.  After colonizing many worlds, humans have met a hostile alien machine intelligence called the Spiders.  There is a lot of stuff going on in this book, not all of it fits together well. It starts out with an Earth agent infiltrating an illegal gambling space station and ends with him being involved in the war with the Spiders as they try to take over the human mining satellites of Jupiter. I had some trouble following the story and some of the technology described seemed more for the convenience of the author than anything plausible. I'm not sure I'd recommend this one.

Screwed by Eoin Colfer
This is a sequel to the author's "Plugged" which I haven't read. The author does a good job of catching the reader up on the first book so it stands alone. Daniel McEvoy is a former Irish soldier who saw action with the UN in various places but is now settled in New Jersey and owns a gambling club. He's got himself in debt to the local Irish mob (presumably as a result of what ever happened in the first book) and finds himself running an errand for the mob boss which may set him free if he performs the job well. But nothing goes well, and Daniel, a self-described man of peace finds himself in conflict with New York mobsters, crooked New York cops and Irish relatives out to kill him. The book is very humorous and pretty violent. Colfer is apparently known as the author of YA books but this book is very adult in language. The audio book was great. Recommended.

Tracker by C. J. Cherryh

This is the 16th novel in Cherryh's Foreigner books. The series comes in 3-book installments and I've read most of them. This was a pretty good installment and actually a good entry point to the series, if you haven't read any of them. I'd recommend any books in the series, in fact, I'd recommend going back to the first. The overall story is about a space ship full of humans who end up on a world already inhabited by an sentient species. The stories take place many hundreds of years after first contact. Humans and atevi share the planet under an uneasy truce formed after the original War of the Landing. Bren Cameron, who originally was the human's envoy to the atevi ruler is now a Lord of the avevi's court. In this installment, the human-atevi world is potentially under threat from an alien ship from deep space. Recommended.

Unbreakable by W. C. Bauers
Military science fiction of the most derivative sort. Not a bad first novel (and first book of a series) but it's pretty much loaded up with cliches. A young woman, with the improbable name of Promise Paen, is the newly promoted 2nd lieutenant of a Republican Marine Corp unit who's company is sent to the planet of Montana (Paen's home world) to help protect it from the Republic's enemy the Lusitanian Empire. Montana is a rough frontier world with no defense of it's own. The Marine's are attacked by pirates (in the pay of the Empire) and it's leadership killed, leaving Paen in charge when they hit the ground. The ship that brought them is also heavily damaged and there are no reinforcements coming.  Then a small armada of Lusitanians show up. Under Paen's leadership, the Republican marines manage to defeat the much larger force from the Empire. I kinda of liked it and would recommend it but don't expect too much. You may notice some similarity in the cover design to "The Edge of Dark" above. They are both the work of Stephan Martiniere.

Personal by Lee Child
This is the 19th Jack Reacher book. I must say that Jack (and possibly Lee Child) are getting a bit long in the tooth. Reacher, who has to be about 60 years old, can't possibly be as tough as he once was, and, considering that, Child doesn't give him much to do in this book. It's a complicated story about a sniper, once put away by Reacher, who is now out of prison and wanted for an attempted assassination of the French President. For Reacher, it's personal, get it? Reacher gets into only one fight and though traveling around with a young and attractive female FBI agent, he seems to have no interest in her. Nor she in him. He's old enough to be her grandfather! If you've read all the other Jack Reacher novels, go ahead and read this one. If not, find the early ones in the series and read them instead.

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