Book Review

Review: Sea of Mammals (3/5 stars)

First I should say I was asked to review this Novella by it’s author James Armer, who gave me a copy. I will endeavor to be honest however or this review would serve little purpose.

First I would like to say that I do like that the story does not take place in the near future. While an exact number is not given my gut tells me it is set thousands of years in the future. This is something that is not done enough, in my view.

I also like the scope of the story. What it is set about could be very important, but still only takes place in one small part of one small world.

That said it does have problems. The first is that the story felt slow, in part I think because of the purple (too florid) prose, largely on the part of the robot.

This could just be my personal taste but I found it hard to care about the characters in the way that you should. Even the robot slave is shown to have done some really bad things, enough that I could see enslavement being at least partly justified.

Ben, the owner of Cora the robot slave, is hard to care about because he never seems to have initiative. He is not really a mover, even when doing so threatens his life he is too willing to just let things slide.

To be honestly what it feels like is the second or third draft of a story that could be good, if more work was put into it.

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On Goodreads

Review: Sentenced to Prism (4/5 stars)

Foster is one of my favorite authors, in large part because of books like this. The book is about a man who is sent to Prism to investigate the problems an outpost is having. Prism is potentially a very profitable, but is very hard to work on, planet. The fact they have to keep what it is and where it is secret makes it all the more hard (partly because they are operating on a gray area legally, partly to stop competition).

To that end he is given the best mech/survival suit that money can buy. He does not know a lot about the situation, but he is a jack of all trades and is being sent because no one really knows what is going on. He is sure he can figure it out without too many problems.

I won’t spoil more, the book is one of the best optimistic (without stopping being realistic) exportation books I have read. Prism is a fully realized world with it’s own way of doing things and it’s own life.

On Goodreads

Review: World Swappers (4/5 stars)

World Swappers is an early work by Brunner. It is short and dense in the same way a lot of books written in the forties or the fifties tend to be. It has several threads, and a fast pace but does not leave you behind.

I will say that the characters do sometimes lack depth, it is definitely an early work, none the less it is a good book that I have re-read a couple times over the years.

The book is set several centuries past us developed the first FTL ships, and when dozens of worlds were colonized.

It’s about two people/organizations who are both trying to solve the same problem, even if one does not realize it.

The first is Bassett, a business man who under normal conditions would be the top guy on earth after he puts in his time (a few more decades) he could then spend the latter half of his life as the de-facto ruler.

The second is Counce, centuries before the book started, just as humans were going in the stars, he discovered how to build the Transfax by accident. The Transfax is a teleporter then can go between stars, and can even change matter to other forms. It could end hunger, and disease, providing anything anyone ever wanted for practically nothing.

However he realized quickly after he build the first one that it could also end mankind, even in theory you could not shield from someone sending a bomb to you via Transfax. So long as you know where your enemy was you could kill him, and once the Transfax was out you could easily make more of them. To let everyone have it could mean the end of mankind, to let no one have it would be a breach of his duty to his fellow man.

He decided to compromise. He founded an organization, selecting the best people he could find to use the Transfax to help in what ways they could without revealing that it exists. They could play the long game because they could use it to come back from death and to reverse old age. They also used psychological modeling to make sure they got no bad eggs.

It is a very interesting book, partly because it has such a optimistic view of mankind via Counce and his people. Yet on the other side you have Basset and other such horrible people. It shows that a book does not need to be wholly optimistic or pessimistic, it can be both.

on Goodreads

Review: Space Doctor (4/5 stars)

Space doctor by G. Harry Stine was published in the eighties (at least according to my copy) but it reads more like the fifties or late forties. Not saying that is a bad thing, although it is different from what you would think.

This kind of story is a lot more rare today then it was in the fifties, it was very refreshing to read. Rather then be about something epic in scope it’s about one man who is doing some very interesting things, almost slice is life-ish.

The story is about a doctor who is hired by a senator/business owner who is trying to get power sat’s working (solar panels in orbit beaming power down to stations on the earth). There are two sets of stations, one is in high orbit where the sat’s themselves are being built.

The main character is hired to be the head doctor on the upper satellites. That high up they can’t send people down if there is a medical problem, they have to deal with it then and there. He is in practice starting a new area of medicine, doing it all by feel and trial and error.

For example they have to invent IV bags that will squeeze themselves because there is no gravity. He has to talk the engineers into making sure he and his people can get around quickly when they are needed ect.

Its a very good relaxing and interesting read.

On Goodreads