Aces High

Where Wild Cards introduced the setting and spanned decades dealing with the introduction of the wild card virus and how the world diverged from our own, Aces High feels a lot more focused, dealing primarily with two plot lines: the arrival of an alien ‘swarm mother’ (a hive mind/bio ship intent on eating planets, as one does) and the Masonic conspiracy we first got a glimpse of in Fortunato’s introduction.

The story starts out a bit rough. I don’t really care for the Mason/Fortunato’s plotline. But the swarm stuff is pretty cool and there are a number of fun new characters along with expanded worldbuilding. I like the additional focus. It makes me wonder/expect if each book will have a single topic or two to focus around.


The Legend of Corinair

Now we’re getting somewhere.

The Aurora is on the move again, jumping (literally) from system to system and battle to battle. It’s still a fairly light read, with plenty of action and sci fi goodies to keep you occupied. It’s actually starting to feel more like it’s own flavor, rather than just cribbing hard core on Star Trek, particularly Voyager (and there’s still nothing wrong with that).


Spinning Silver

The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard. The real story is, the miller’s daughter with her long golden hair wants to catch a lord, a prince, a rich man’s son, so she goes to the moneylender and borrows for a ring and a necklace and decks herself out for the festival. And she’s beautiful enough, so the lord, the prince, the rich man’s son notices her, and dances with her, and tumbles her in a quiet hayloft when the dancing is over, and afterwards he goes home and marries the rich woman his family has picked out for him. Then the miller’s despoiled daughter tells everyone that the moneylender’s in league with the devil, and the village runs him out or maybe even stones him, so at least she gets to keep the jewels for a dowry, and the blacksmith marries her before that firstborn child comes along a little early. Because that’s what the story’s really about: getting out of paying your debts.

The only other Naomi Novik book I’ve read was His Majesty's Dragon, which I . Which makes it all the more surprising how much I loved Spinning Silver.


The Rings of Haven

The Rings of Haven takes up right where Aurora: CV-01 left off: a ship and her crew, stranded a thousand light year, having to make friends–and sometimes enemies–in a desperate struggle to survive and make their ways home.

In a way, The Rings of Haven really feels a lot smaller than Aurora: CV-01. It’s mostly about establishing a new ‘normal’ and introducing a few new faces. Which it does well enough, but it’s nothing compared to a new world and new technologies and getting blown across the galaxy.


Wild Cards

Finally got around to it. I haven’t been able to find the whole series on audiobook, but at least I have the first few, so let’s give it a go!

Overall, it’s a surprisingly fun and rather different sort of book. Rather than a single overarching plot and series of books, you have a world with a few key events and then a number of short stories with only a few characters crossing over. An anthology as it were. :)


Aurora: CV-01

Huh. I picked up Aurora: CV-01 based on the recommendation of Steve Gibson of the Security Now podcast. Other than a glowing review and knowing it was sci-fi, I didn’t really know anything else about the series.

Turns out, it feels an awful lot like a Star Trek series with the labels filed off. Which isn’t actually a bad thing, I’ve seen all of the Star Trek series and movies. What’s more, I’m one of the weird ones who started with and actually prefers Voyager to all the others, which when we find out the Aurora is a thousand light years from home intrigued me somewhat.



18 books in and Venus is the only body this side of Saturn that the Grand Tour hasn’t explored, so it seems a perfectly fitting place to end (I’ll get back to that). There’s something of a continuation of the The Asteroid Wars, with Martin Humphries and his sons as the focus of the books. One (Alex, his clone ) attempted to be the first to reach the surface of Venus and died in the attempt. The other (Van, actually not his biological son at all, but rather the son of his longtime enemy from the Asteroid Wars: Lars Fuchs (I know, right?) ) decides to take on the task of recovering his remains–a pot sweetened by ten billion dollars of his father’s money.

All that actually makes Venus somewhat interesting and unique among the Grand Tour novels. It’s not really one of the corporate war books, such as the early Moonbase books or the Asteroid Wars, but it’s also not a purely scientific exploration of Venus–although there’s plenty of that. It’s really more an an adventure novel with a sci-fi setting and backing in the hellscape that is Venus. That actually makes it a surprisingly solid book.



Imago closes out the Lilith’s Brood trilogy, continuing and building on a lot of the general world building set out in Dawn and Adulthood Rites. This time around, we’re not directly following either Lilith or Akin, but rather Jodahs, perhaps the least human protagonist of the series–as he will be the first human/Oankali hybrid that appears to be growing up to be neither male nor female, instead growing up ooloi.

It’s a fascinating and weird point of view, especially given that he’s even more alien than the ooloi have been all along–which is saying something. With his human traits, he has even more power to literally rewrite the genes of anything he touches.


Mars Life

Mars Life continues the story set out in Mars and Return to Mars, with much the same setting and characters (particularly of the latter). Seventeen books in, there’s little particularly surprising about Mars Life, but it’s still a solid enough entry to the series.

For the most part, we’re back to dealing with the New Morality (which makes me wonder about the timeline a bit) and greenhouse flooding on Earth. In particularly how they just want to put their heads in the sand and ignore concrete evidence of intelligent life on Mars and user their oomph to get the Mars project shut down entirely. It’s interesting enough on one hand, but as mentioned, it’s starting to feel like more of the same.