Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dreadnaught, Bioshock, and Bloodshot Reviewed at SFFWorld

We’ve got three new reviews up at SFFWorld, one from Mark, one from Kathryn (aka Loerwyn aka Cheerwell in the forums) and one from me.

I’ll start with link/excerpt dump with the newbie’s review. Many people have played the game Bioshock (myself enthusiastically included) and as a result, the fine makers of the game thought it would be a nice idea to publish a novel based in the undersea city of Rapture. So they enlisted the pen of acclaimed writer John Shirley and Kathryn read the result Bioshock: Rapture and here’s what she thought of it:

BioShock: Rapture is everything it promises to be, and does so quite well. We start off in the years preceding the creation of Rapture, but after the devastating attacks of the US on Japan, and over three parts we watch Rapture go from an idea through to a decaying ruin. At the start of each chapter, the author notes the year, and sometimes month, in which those events happen, and it allows the reader to contextualise everything from the events of the surface world through to even the smallest cultural references, such as the mention of the rise of rock 'n' roll. We also see the city through the eyes of a number of characters and this gives us a very good view of what is happening to each of the major players of the series. All of these viewpoints are written in different styles relating to the character they follow. For example Bill, a working class plumber, has a 'Scouser' accent that comes through in his narration as well as his dialogue, whereas Andrew Ryan's chapters are generally more formal.

As a tie-in novel, it's aimed squarely at those who've played through the two games currently released.

I’ve been on more of a SF kick this year than in past years and one series that’s been coming up (thanks to Mark Yon’s review and Mark Chitty’s enthusiasm for the books) is Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet. Campbell started a second series about hero Admiral John “Black Jack” Geary with Beyond the Frontier and I reviewed the first book, which published in April 2011, Dreadnaught:
A lot of the political maneuvering was handled fairly well, and I felt Campbell portrayed the conflict between military and government believably. Geary’s bouncing ideas of his subordinates was also done nicely. This back-and-forth took up a large portion of the novel, and in a sense, allowed me as a new reader to get a fuller sense of Admiral Geary’s situation and provided a fairly logical way for Campbell to lay out events in the previous six book series. I would have liked some more action in the early part of the novel and I suspect fans of the previous books might be slightly frustrated with some of the retreading of prior events.

I came to this novel not having read the previous six book series, so the only knowledge I had of the book was anecdotal and some relatively positive reviews. On that count, I wasn’t too lost as a new reader, these characters obviously have a history, but not knowing that history didn’t detract from my ability to enjoy or fully grasp the situations in the novel.

Whereas I've been delving into the Science Fiction side of things, Mark seems to be on a bit of a vampire kick and as such, reviewed Cherie Priest’s foray into the urban fantasy/vampire genre Bloodshot, the first of the Cheshire Red Reports series
This is Cherie’s tenth novel, but, as far as I know, first foray into the urban fantasy culture. The plot, at least in brief outline here, sounds like pretty standard fare. Vampire-thief Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red) is quite happy making a living stealing valuable art and jewellery in Minneapolis. When she is asked by blind, debonair vampire Ian Stott to steal government secrets instead, she finds she has opened a major security breach involving something called Project Bloodshot in a secret government laboratory and stirred up a real hornet’s nest with documents that have an automatic trace on them that raises the interest of the military, the CIA and the Men in Black.

Though initially the premise may sound familiar, this has some nice strengths. There’s actually a lot to like here. It’s got a cracking pace and snappy dialogue from the off. We quickly get to know Raylene/Cheshire, as this is a first-person narrative, and she’s clearly an intelligent, feisty and nicely ambiguously-moralled character, if a little neurotic. She’s also snarky and seriously nasty at times, as you might expect from a vampire more than a century old, but has another side to her character that also looks after two homeless kids in one of her abandoned warehouse gaffs.

No comments: