April 12, 2014
Cauldron of Ghosts
David Weber and Eric Flint
Baen, Apr 8 2014, $25.00
Republic of Haven Foreign Intelligence Service operative Victor Cachat and Star Kingdom of Manticore agent Anton Zilwicki exposed the shocking centuries old plot of the Mesan Alignment that successfully manipulated the two former enemies into a debilitating war. Leaders of Manticore and Haven forge an alliance between them while creating new internal ones to counter the now known common adversary, but need more information about their foe. Thus, undercover, Cachat now assigned to the Foreign office, and Zilwicki, accompanied by Steph Turner, return to Mesa.
The two spies begin collecting data that stuns both of them as they learn more about the brutal opponent who will do anything to anyone to achieve its genetic BHAG. As the spies create havoc and help enflame a slave rebellion, Cachat and Zilwicki realize how diabolical the foe has been and still is.
The third Crown of Slaves Harrington sidebar science fiction (see Torch of Freedom and Crown of Slaves) is for the most part an exciting tale that requires readers to ignore logic and lacks depth into the home-fronts’ reactions to a seemingly unnecessary war. The fun in the storyline is the antics of Cachat and Zilwicki who both live up to the latter’s previous boss describing him as an out of control lion made even crazier by this partnership.
April 11, 2014
St. Martin’s Griffin, Apr 1 2014, $18.99
With his Malachai father’s death (see Inferno), Cajun-demon Nick Gautier inherits powers that frighten him. He feels haunted by what his former girlfriend Nekoda Kennedy admitted to him that her mission was to prevent him from becoming the Malachai who ended the world. Desperate to not harm his loved ones and just be a normal raging hormonal teen even also while thinking of Death’s warning to trust no one, Nick turns to friends to firmly create a safety control on his powers.
When Nick next awakens, he possesses no paranormal skills and lives in a different world. His parents are Cherise and Bubba; and demons and even his BF deity he knew in his previous life have turned into mortal high school students like he has become. Confused, Nick soon finds the mundane proves dangerous, but made more lethal by those he used to call buddies might be his deadly enemies and those who previously wanted him dead might prove his loyal friends.
The fifth teenage Chronicles of Nick (see Infamous, Invisible and Infinity) is a terrific action-packed fantasy as the protagonist struggles to survive what he wished for. Filled with twists especially due to the radical 180 degrees changes in the protagonist’s relationships with friends and foes that leave Nick bewildered as to who he should trust and what to believe. Series fans will relish this strong thriller as Nick obtains a powerful lesson that he fears his epiphany came too late about not dodging your responsibilities even those you loathe.
April 10, 2014
Pyr, Apr 8 2014, $16.95
On Droze, Cassandra Kresnov retired from the Federation’s military to work as a field operative for the Federation Security Agency. Sandy’s mission is to free android super-soldiers like she once was who were illegally created and are lethally misused by corporations as expendable pawns.
However, a clever adversary leads a vicious campaign naming her as a vile enemy of the GIs she tries to rescue. Complicating matters, the League takes away from her the three orphans she considers adopting. When a battle between the Fleet and the League occurs leaving many casualties especially among the GIs seeking asylum, the Federation Grand Council demands full retreat as they want to avoid at all costs another war.
The latest Cassandra Kresnov military science fiction (see 23 Years on Fire, Crossover and Killswitch) is a complex timely thriller with many more subplots than briefly described above; Joel Shepherd cleverly interweaves real issues into this action-packed storyline. Besides the dandy Sandy prime plot, especially fascinating are the effort by some politicians to change the Constitution in order to restrict the rights of others and the related hit on a lawyer working to expand the constitutional rights to the GIs. Add in the fascinating arrival of a non-soldier GI along with Sandy’s contemplating retiring into motherhood leading to a strong entry with plenty to follow.
April 10, 2014
The Wolf Siren
Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 1 2014, $5.75
Her abusive stepfather, Church of Sanctuary preacher Jacob Gideon, treated wolf-shifter Lilly Gideon as an evil abomination due to her body containing a demon inside. For a decade and a half, she was incarcerated and tested like a lab rat with the objective being either to kill the evil wolf and or kill the host body. Her twin brother Lucas Kenyon (see The Lost Wolf’s Destiny) with the help of Pack Protectors like Kane McGraw rescued his sister whom he thought was murdered by Jacob fifteen years ago.
Living in Lucas’ Seattle home with his mate and daughter, Lily struggles to adjust to her freedom after fifteen years in captivity. She psychotically refuses to free the wolf ever; as she had been tortured all those years she was imprisoned to fear the beast inside her. Already concerned for Lily’s mental state, when a viable threat from the cult that tormented his sister surfaces, Lucas asks Kane to come from Texas to help him keep his family especially his sibling safe.
The latest Pack romantic urban fantasy (see The Wolf Prince) is a great character-driven thriller that series fans will appreciate even with the action somewhat toned down compared to previous entries as much of the focus looks deeply into the traumatized heroine’s psychosis. Readers will root for Lilly to heal from her phobias after years of torment while fans will accept love is the elixir cure if she learns to trust her heart, her wolf, her twin and especially her shifter.
April 9, 2014
Baen, Apr 8 2014, $15.00
“Balance Point.” The second Cold War between the Earth and the Yavi seems over as cooler heads from both sides push for peace. Mort the Grezzen telepath mentally tells American Intelligence Officer Captain Jazen Parker that Earth Trueborn Bartram Cutler was pardoned. With the presidential ban on raids of the Yavi, Jazen informs his partner Trueborn Army Colonel Catherine “Kit” Born and Lieutenant General Howard Hibble that if the Yavi obtain the C-drive, he believes his planet unfairly, as most of the populace has no hostilities towards Earth, will be nuked into oblivion. On Rand, Cutler undercover as “Quartermain” and Yavet Director General of Internal Security Maxillian Polian as “Hitchcock” barter over the former providing the latter with C-drive data to make the device. Meanwhile Jazen receives a deathbed request he cannot refuse from his adoptive mom Orion who wants to see him before she dies. Thus he rushes home to Yavet unaware of a trap by ambitious warmongers.
“Mole Hunt.” Otman the Yavi covert operative takes a crew to Dead End with plans to change human history by salvaging a crashed fighter’s C-drive. He and his mates are unprepared for the Grezzen and the orb’s other unwelcoming species.
The third Orphan’s Legacy military science fiction (see Overkill and Undercurrents) is an engaging twisting timely thriller with hawks believing the end justifies the means and doves wanting to “Give Peace A Chance” (John Lennon). Readers will appreciate this gender bending entry as Jazen rushes home with Kit rushing after him as she knows it takes an intelligent female to rescue a foolish male. Mole Hint is a reprint of a very short entertaining story in the Orphan’s Legacy realm.
April 6, 2014
Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 1 2014, $5.75
While visiting her Uncle Ray in his mountain cabin near deserted Blessing, Rayanne Allen becomes spooked when she sees impossible happenings in the “empty” ghost-town. Uncle Ray tells her like him she has the gift.
With Uncle Ray’s passing, Rayanne inherits his estate if she meets the stipulation of his will. While her mom goes berserk over the will, Rayanne takes a leave of absence from the university where she teaches and heads to her late uncle’s cabin to spend the summer there. In Blessing, she meets the ghost of Wyatt McCain, who turns solid for a few days every year to relive the gunfight that left him and a child dead. As the professor and the ghost fall in love, both accept they have no future together, but each tries to help the other as he wants her to inherit and she wants him to move on.
Immortal Cowboy is a wonderful paranormal romance which enables subgenre fans to believe in the love between the star-crossed protagonists. Readers will relish this delightful ghost story as Alexis Morgan spins a warm tale in which love breaches seemingly impenetrable barriers between the living and the dead.
April 6, 2014
Upon A Sea Of Stars
A. Bertram Chandler
Baen, Apr 1 2014, $14.00
“Into the Alternate Universe.” Although ridiculed for what many proclaim a foolish dangerous one-way ticket, Commander Sonya Verrill persuades Commodore John Grimes to accompany her on field research into two dead people and the Rim Ghosts on a no return trip to the galaxy’s rim.
“Contraband From Otherspace.” As Rim Mamelute Commodore Grimes knows accepted principles of time-space continuum physics do not apply at the galaxy’s outer rim; still the eerie ship Distriyir is solid matter but the crew odd and the vessel strangely off kilter. As Grimes learns the truth about the Distriyir and those on board, he must make a decision that could impact his time-space continuum.
“The Rim Gods.” Bored with his tedious office job as the Astronautical Superintendent of Rim Runners and desk jockey commanding officer of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve; Grimes jumps at a chance to go back into space even with the mission at the rim of the galaxy.
“The Commodore at Sea.” At the galaxy’s rim where the time-space continuum bends in incomprehensible ways, Grimes and Verrill go kinsolving where they meet Holmes, Watson, Lady Chatterley, William Cody, Lord Greystoke and Jane, and A. Bertram Chandler, etc.
The fifth Grimes omnibus space adventures (see Ride The Star Winds) briskly focuses on escapades outside of the space navy at the galactic rim where the time-space continuum twists in weird ways to the delight of readers. Into the Alternate Universe and Contraband From Otherspace are exciting novellas while The Rim Gods and The Commodore at Sea are entertaining small anthologies.
April 5, 2014
C. J. Cherryh
DAW, Apr 1 2014, $25.95
The heir to the Atevi leader of the Western Association Tabiniaiji, Cajerji celebrates his ninth birthday with his people and select human friends he made. At the same time a deep schism inside the Assassins’ Guild explodes into the open between the traditionalists like the Atevi dowager Ilisidi who demand the foreigners including Cameron leave and the modernists like Tabiniaiji who want increased contact. This split especially endangers the party attendees as the Guild provides security to the gala.
All this occurs while Cajeiri’s mother Damiri will soon give birth to a royal daughter and his grandmother Ilisidi believes she knows who has assassinated family members. She plans to avenge these murders starting with breeching the impregnable Assassins’ Guild Headquarters. Paidhi-aiji Bren Cameron knows his mission is to protect Cajerji and the guests as he promised his friend Tabini. However, the diplomat fears he can do little to prevent a civil war that apparently was deployed long before he arrived here; although he also knows who the enemy is and that this foe probably will take the fight to the party.
The latest Foreigner Universe thriller (see Protector, Intruder and Betrayer) is an entertaining entry with numerous fascinating but passive explanatory essays on hostile politics and ethics based on the end justifies the mean with diverse ethnic beliefs being the underlying cause. Cajerji remains the focus of enemy camps sharing in common only that the heir is a pawn to further personal agendas. Series fans will enjoy this entertaining bash as the major threads of the Cameron saga are tied up and contains the additional bonus of “Lord Geigi’s History of the Aishidi’tat with commentary by Lord Bren of Najda, paidhi-aiji”.
March 31, 2014
Waldo & Magic, Inc.
Robert A. Heinlein
Baen, Apr 1 2014, $14.00
“Waldo.” With the latest crash of a North Power-Air plane this time in Nebraska, Chairman of the Board Gleason discusses with key staff the massive failures crisis. Chief engineer Stevens, research supervisor Rambeau, legal head Harkness and chief stationary engineer Striebel remain stymied as none know the cause. Stevens suggests consulting with rude hermit Waldo over the objection of Rambeau. Obtaining approval, Stevens visits Waldo’s only contact Doc Grimes to gain him entrance to the reclusive genius who suffers from crippling myasthenia gravis that forces him to reside in a zero-gravity abode circling the planet. Although he has no reason to save humanity from their poisoning the planet, Waldo’s solution to engine failure ties with man-made radiation causing lethargy but proves outside the realm of science and engineering.
“Magic, Inc.” With its near monopoly on practitioners and absolute control of government certification and licensing, Magic, Inc. brokers the use of magic by contracting it out to business moguls, politicians and other ambitious affluent people for an exorbitant fee. As first rate independent operators are becoming extinct, businessman Archie Fraser seeks magic outside this cabal, but never expected to enter hell with his new practitioner partners.
These are two enjoyable reprints of WWII published fantasy novellas. Robert A. Heinlein’s genius stands out in Waldo as the title character is an antihero at an era when heroes only apply. The storyline deftly changes from science fiction to fantasy while also focusing on issues that remain timely. The companion piece is more typical of the genre circa 1940s though makes a case to beware of the government-industrial complex two decades before President Eisenhower’s farewell speech.
March 28, 2014
Vampires…Need Not Apply?
Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00
While on vacation in Mexico, affluent Spanish physicist Dr. Antonio Acero remains haunted by a woman pleading with him to free her. When he locates a mysterious Mayan tablet that allegedly will prevent the Apocalypse, obsessed Antonio tries to deploy the relic to open the gate restraining his enigmatic incarcerated female. Instead of success, an accident leaves Acero blind.
For seventy long lonely millennia, Ixtab the goddess of suicide has avoided the touch of humans after she accidently caused the death of her beloved. Wearing her veil to conceal her face and garbed in Goth mourning clothes, Ixtab arrives to help Antonio with his quest and regain his eyesight. To her astonishment, the philandering Spaniard not only looks like her memory of her one true love, but somehow survives touching her.
The latest Accidentally Yours romantic fantasy (see Accidentally in Love with…a God?, Sun God Seeks …Surrogate? and Accidentally Married to…a Vampire?) is a fascinating tale due to the lead Goddess’ dilemma that will remind readers of the X-Men’s Rogue. The hero thinks “Heaven Must be Missing An Angel” (Tavares) though he meets her while blind and she hides her visage behind her veil which in his mind means she must be hideous. Series fans will enjoy this fast-paced entry with over the top humor as the overarching theme of mad Cimil making life interesting moves somewhat forward.