Monday, August 31, 2009

Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder (review)

Title: Sun of Suns
Author: Karl Schroeder
Illustrator: N/A
Length: 11 hours, 21 minutes
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Sch
Cost: $0

Karl Schroeder is labeled by many to be a master. But he is one that I do not follow.

This book would fall into another one of those that I just don't "get." And while Schroeder does a good job in presenting the world and the characters, I think it's the sub-genre of steam punk or slip stream or sci-fi that I don't really enjoy. I honestly think I have been spoiled by the many years of reading Star Wars novels.

Aside from my obvious dislike for this book is my appreciation for the science behind it. Schroeder did great research on this book in keeping the science feeling real or at least possible in the near future. The characters, especially Hayden Griffin and Venera Fanning, come off the page as real people.

In the end, I gave up before the end. About three hours into the eleven hour novel, I called it quits. The concept of slip stream slipped form my hands and steam punk lost steam.

Friday, August 28, 2009

GIVEAWAY - Vulcan's Forge by Jack DuBrul

I have a copy of Vulcan's Forge by Jack DuBrul to giveaway. This is a slightly used (meaning I read it) mass market paperback version.

How do you enter to win a copy?

Leave a comment on this post or send me an email at tk42one (at thingy) gmail (dot) com with VULCAN'S FORGE in the Subject.


Send me a DM or @ reply on Twitter (

What are the rules?

- You must live in the United States (APO and FPO are fine) to enter.
- You can only enter once (duplicate attempts will be disqualified).
- Deadline to enter is midnight September 7, 2009.

And don't worry, I'll be willing to ship to foreign address in future giveaways.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Huge Reviewer Linkup

That's right, the big guy himself (John Ottinger of Grasping for the Wind) has released his second edition of the SF/F/H (Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror) Reviewer Linkup Meme. Seeing as the list is, well, massive, I figure it would be best to just step over to Grasping for the Wind and read it from the source.

While you're over there, you'll see how I answered his question of If you could live in an SF/Fantasy/Horror world, in which one would you live? Why? Some very interesting reading there (not necessarily from me, mind you).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

S. M. Stirling Interview II

We have another interview with S. M. Stirling today (the first interview). Steve was nice enough to take time away from writing to answer more questions.

Why should readers buy your next novel, The Sword of the Lady?

-- it's a damned good story, if I say so myself. Kilts, swords, Moorish corsairs, Vikings who say "ayuh", Cheesehead cavalry, Sindarin-speaking girls with eyepatches, romance and young love... what's not to like?

According to your website ( you are working on three more Emberverse novels after The Sword of the Lady. Without giving away too many details, can you give readers an idea how much time elapses between them?

-- THE HIGH KING OF MONTIVAL starts directly after THE SWORD OF THE LADY; I'm working on it now. THE TEARS OF THE SUN and THE GIVEN SACRIFICE take place a bit later.

What other stories (long and short) are you working on right now?

-- there's A TAINT IN THE BLOOD and its two sequels, and I'm doing a novella.

Taint in the Blood is classified by some as an urban fantasy novel. Would you put the same label on it? Is this your first time writing in this genre?

-- first time at novel length. It's "urban" in that it's set in our time and world, more or less -- it starts in Santa Fe, NM, in fact. There's an element that could be either fantasy or science fiction.

Lately you’ve given readers sample chapters that end up revealing nearly half of the book for free. Have you noticed any change in sales by doing this? Do you think a free e-book would boost sales?

-- well, I've been doing that for some time now, and it doesn't seem to hurt. Quite the contrary. I think there are few people who'll read half a book and then refuse to shell out for the rest.

Changing gears a little, can you name one author you enjoy reading but feel is under appreciated or undiscovered?

-- errrr... a couple. Walter John Williams? John Miller? Melinda Snodgrass? and that doesn't exhaust the list by any means.

In the past you’ve stated that you love reading and researching history. Is there a particular period or topic that you enjoy more than others?

-- it varies. I like the Early Modern period and the Edwardian era, but I range around widely.

What's the simplest thing you never learned to do?

-- not talk.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

-- writing!

What keeps you up at night?

-- habit. I have to be careful or I work all night and go to sleep at dawn; a habit I share with Winston Churchill and Mao.

Thank you again Steve for allowing me to bother you yet again with pesky questions. Make sure you check out his next book, The Sword of the Lady (review here), due out today and keep an eye out for his urban fantasy, A Taint in the Blood, due out next year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Next Giveaway

This is a big one, so pay attention. I have the following books that I'll be giving away over the next few weeks:

  • Vulcan's Forge
  • Charon's Landing
  • The Medusa Stone
  • Pandora's Curse
  • River of Ruin
  • Deep Fire Rising
  • Havoc
All books are written by Jack Du Brul. All are mass market paperbacks and one, Pandora's Curse, is an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC). All are lovingly used, which means I've read them but haven't beaten them up. I have not decided yet if I'll be limiting the giveaways to US residents or not. I may split it between domestic and foreign or something else.

However it happens, stay tuned for the details.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Sword of the Lady by S. M. Stirling (review)

Title: The Sword of the Lady
Author: S. M. Stirling
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 496
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Sti
ISBN: 978-0-451-46290-9
Cost: $25.95 (available August 25th, 2009)

Stirling pulls it off again. Then goes a step further.

First, a little background. Rudi (aka Artos) and his merry band are on a quest to find a sword. His band consists of a religious man, a princess, and knight of sorts that loves the princess. His horse Epona is a bit like a familiar. The evil forces working against Rudi include an evil wizard of sorts and his living, though zombie-like, army.

Sounds very much like a typical fantasy novel, right? Wrong. This "basic" plot line takes place in a future world that has roots in our past. When the Change occurred in 1998, the laws of physics changed. Which means that the internal combustion engine stopped working, gunpowder fizzled, and electronic devices died. Fast forward a generation and Rudi is leading a band of young adults that only know of these things (like television and cars) through stories told by their elders.

And while this is all very exciting for a Stirling fan or a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, the book does have a few faults. Namely, the addition of some new groups of people at the end of the book. The Norrheim folk and the Moorish sailors appearance feels like a last minute addition. I'm sure they will be fleshed out a bit in the next book, The High King of Montival, but they feel a little too shallow here. And of course, the very, very end was exciting, but a little disjointed at times. I think it's the presentation of the visions, but the scene is short enough to not be much of a bother.

Aside from these minor flaws, I have to say this is one of my top three favorites in this series. Island in the Sea of Time and Dies the Fire are clearly tops for me because they present the reader with the beginnings of an epic story. The Sword of the Lady is great in that it keeps the story real (I got a little misty-eyed when a main character died) and it links the two story arcs together. No, I'm not going to ruin it all for you and blab on how they are linked, but it was very touching.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midwinter by Matthew Sturges (review)

Title: Midwinter
Author: Matthew Sturges
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 345
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Stu
ISBN: 978-1591027348
Cost: $14.95

This is a rare book. That's right, despite being popular enough to rank up there with Peter V. Brett and Ken Scholes in a conversation, this book was hard for me to "get." No, that isn't what makes it rare, what makes it rare is I think this book should be read, not listened to.

Most stories I've listened to (usually via the wonderful service called Audible) are greatly entertaining. Sure, some just didn't cut it, but rarely will I come across a book that is under-served by an audio format. Most benefit from it and some excel with it. Take Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. That's one of the best series to listen to on audio because you can ignore it for a minute or two and not miss any of the action. Harry Potter is another great series because of the quality voice of the reader.

But Midwinter fell flat in some areas. And I'm sure if I were reading it instead of listening to it, I'd "get" the story. Instead, I felt lost during some of the story, like the plot was there but I missed something. Especially at the end. I know the end was special with the big reveal, but I just didn't connect all the pieces together.

With that said, the action in the story did telegraph through the audio version nicely. And I loved the quest-style adventure. Actually it reminded me of The Dirty Dozen and various other plots modeled on it, all of which I've enjoyed. And I loved the cross-world aspect with the human characters, which gave it a Connecticut Yankee flavor (another great genre).

In the end, I would say this was an average book. Nothing terribly great, but certainly nothing terrible. And for the first time that I can remember, I'm going to "un-recommend" the audio version. Instead stick with the book, I think you'll enjoy it better.

Monday, August 17, 2009

News Update

The Sword of the Lady by S. M. Stirling (due out towards the end of this month) has a brief write-up in Library Journal. Nothing terribly exciting in the review as it pretty much just gives a run down on the plot. But there's more to it so far, as I'm nearing the end. Rudi and his crew have made serious progress in their journey but a new cast of baddies (and good guys too) have appeared and I'm trying to adjust to them at the moment. But I'll save the rest for the full review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spending Update

Well, it was fun while it lasted but it appears I'm addicted to buying books. I wish I could say I feel ashamed, but frankly I feel proud of my addiction.

And what did I buy? The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. Yes, it's an old book and I even used to own a copy. And the library even has a copy I could check out. But I wanted a copy I could read at my own pace. And it gave me an excuse to buy a book for the kids too, The Lucky Sovereign by Stewart Lees. Total cost for both was only $7.08. Not too bad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reading Update

I figured it's been awhile since I've done a reading update so here's where things stand so far.

Chronicles of the Planeswalkers by B. T. Robertson - Page 50 of 216
Seeing as I'm well over the 10% rule (at nearly 25%), I am officially calling it quits on this one. I had some high hopes for this Pittsburgh-based author, but frankly he just couldn't stand up to the big guns of more established authors. And that's a shame. I think he has talent under the rough surface I've read so far. Maybe in the future I'll have more time to devote to reading this.

Midwinter by Mattew Sturges - about two and a half hours left of the audio version
So far, this is a bit of a mixed bag. I know I'll finish it, but there are parts that I'm not enjoying. I think it's more the structure of the story than the content. More details when I write a full review.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin - page 243 of 969
We all know GRRM can write. And in my eyes, it's a lot like Shakespeare. You can't rush the read or you'll miss something. Kind of like LOST but in print.

Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer - Page 52 of 290
A decent read so far that I'm enjoying. Very much a Young Adult (YA) format, but still enjoyable for grown-ups.

The Sword of the Lady by S. M. Stirling - Page 136 of 484
This is totally dominating my reading right now and will until I finish. Thanks to a little pestering and praising and patience, I was lucky enough to score a galley of the book. Digging it very much with only a few minor complaints.