Tag Archive | Science Fiction

Hell Divers II: Ghosts by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Source: Amazon
Format: Kindle
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This book is hands down Nick’s best yet. A quick read, I was spellbound from the first sentence.

Once again we’re pulled in to life on – and off – the Hive, an airship that’s been aloft for well over two centuries. Familiar characters are present, but as the events occur ten years after Hell Divers I, there are new ones to love – and hate. Oh, and new monsters too. Nick’s always good with the monsters…

This is my favourite quote: ‘There was only one thing left for Michael to say. He bumped his comm pad to open a private channel to Captain Jordan and yelled, “We dive so humanity survives!”‘

This is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2017. Absolutely fantastic stuff.

I can’t wait for Hell Divers III.


The Clock that went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

What a lovely short story, asking an excellent question: if time can go forwards, surely it can go backwards too?

The story is about two cousins who visit a ‘great-aunt Gertrude’ (I had to chuckle at that – just how many great-aunt Gertrudes are there?) who has a notable clock: the clock neither ticks nor tocks. Then one night they witness their great-aunt Gertrude winding the clock up, and it then going backwards – something great-aunt Gertrude appears to be happy about, until she falls down, apparently dead.

Then comes one of the funniest lines I’ve read in a while, speaking of experiences in military school: “…and a good deal of the art of standing with our noses over our heels”. That really had me chuckling for a while.

Either rate, so the two cousins – well, Harry being the main recipient – inherit the clock, and get finances to go and study at the University of Leyden, which just happens to be in the town the clock originates from. They go, taking the clock with them, and there they meet a philosophy scholar who is into metaphysics, and is quite happy to accept the concept of time going backward just as much as it goes forward. At which point the theory gets a little hairy, if one can follow it at all!

How fantastic that this story was written almost 140 years ago, and is pretty complex in its consideration of time and time travel. A groundbreaker indeed – and it certainly came onto the stage with a splash. It has the whole time paradox question, which leaves one chewing over it for a good while after reading, and is really, on the whole, quite complex.

An excellent, accessible read that is not – to me, at least – stilted by the language of 140 years hence, and for what it is, a prime example of time travel.

On the Watchtower at Plataea by Garry Kilworth

18586183Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

A very interesting story. Time vortices, opposing time travellers and an engaging view of the siege of Plataea by the Spartans.

The story opens telling us that the group of three time travellers are unable to go further back in time than 429 BC. During the course of the story we find out more about why… though not so much about how they actually time travel. What was interesting is that the team appears to be somewhat incorporeal to the inhabitants of the ‘local’ time, and yet they’re able to handle their own equipment.

The description of the Spartans’ siege of Plataea is vivid as well as amusing – when it comes down to the role the time travellers play as perceived gods. I enjoyed the analysis of the Athenians vs the Spartans – not knowing much about that period of history, it was interesting. But more intriguing was the other group of time travellers from the past (ancient Egypt!) who appeared to have discovered the same mode of time travel, thus creating a standoff between the two time travelling groups. To the disadvantage of those who have travelled back from the future.

I don’t really have much more to say about it. An interesting and somewhat amusing, vividly written story.

Under Siege by George R.R. Martin

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

I’ll be honest. At first, I was a bit ho-hum about this story. Don’t get me wrong. The writing is beautiful and vivid, the story compelling. But for a while, I didn’t get the end. And then, late at night, two days after I’d finished reading it, I suddenly realised what may have happened *spoilers*. And that graduated this story from 4 to 5 stars.

The story is of a mutant from a dystopic future who timerides into the past – his consciousness joins with a ‘local’ man’s, one Bengt Anttonen – in an attempt to change the course of history. The occasion: the siege of Sveaborg in 1808. The aim: to prevent Cronstedt surrendering to the Russians.

It kind of saddens me that I could not discover the name of the mutant who timerides to the past. It’s as though he’s meant to be a sympathetic, but unknown, individual. What we know is that he is ugly, but that he has emotions, feelings, and a sense of humour. Oh. And he plays chess too.

An excellent story with a surprising conclusion, I did enjoy reading it.

Cloak and Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Cloak and SilenceSource: Own collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

One of the fiercest soldiers the Phrixians have ever produced, Maris Sulle has been an outsider from the moment he was born different from the rest of his family. He grew up with a secret that cost him everything——his birthright, his family, and his military career. In all his life, he’s only had one love, and he has sacrificed his own happiness to see his best friend reunited with the woman he loves. But now that his good deed is done, he feels lost and adrift. Even though they do their best to include him in their new family, Maris is once again on the outside looking in.

Ture has spent his life hiding from everyone around him——his family, the world, you name it——while trying desperately to fit in. Badly hurt by everyone he’s ever known, he trusts no one except his own best friend. And honestly, he can’t understand why he trusts her. Nor can he believe her when she describes a loyalty between friends the likes of which he’s never seen.

But when Ture is in his darkest hour, he’s saved by a hero he thought only existed in novels. A man who is every bit as scarred and mistrusting as he is——one who has no interest in being dragged into another relationship with anyone.

Having spent his life as a living study of doomed relationships, Maris is well aware of the courtship and fiasco that invariably follows. Still, there is something about Ture he can’t resist. Something that won’t let him walk away when he knows he should.

But when old enemies return to threaten them both, they either have to stand together or die alone.

The paramount thought I came away from this novella with was “band of brothers”. Maris and his friends are a band of brothers. Without having read any of the other stories in The League, I could sense their loyalty to one another, clearly brought about through adversity. Ture, a stranger to friendship and loyalty, doesn’t believe it can exist, despite his best friend Zarya’s insistence that her betrothed, Darling, will come and rescue them. To Ture’s great surprise, that is precisely what happens. But Darling is not alone. There is another soldier with him, the mysterious and much-talked about (by Zarya) Maris. As Ture is subsequently taken to Darling and Zarya’s palace to recover from the ordeal, he and Maris grow to become friends, and more. But their developing relationship doesn’t come without its consequences.

A quick read, excellent characters and tight plot. This is my first Sherrilyn Kenyon – I originally picked the book up based purely on the cover, and only subsequently found out who Kenyon is – and I won’t mind reading more of her books.

Note: this is an M/M romance.