Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Reads of 2016

As 2016 finally draws to a close it's time to reflect on the best books I read during the year.  Quantity wise this year has been slightly better than last year. I set a goal of reading 25 books and I managed to exceed that by 5 for a total of 30 books read. Interestingly enough according to Goodreads I read a total of 15,711 pages with an average length of 534 pages per book, so I'm pretty happy with that.

There were so many great books I wanted to read, but didn't get round to. Mount TBR keeps on getting larger and larger (I swear I'm starting to see snow on the highest peaks!). Thankfully books are patient companions and there is a kind of bliss in knowing the next great book is just an arm's reach away.

In no particular order, here are my best reads of 2016.

PUSHING ICE by Alastair Reynolds

Pushing Ice has one of the best uses of time dilation I've come across in a SF novel which sets the stage for a human colony stranded far away from the home they knew having to face the challenge of establishing a functioning society and surviving with limited resources. A great character-driven story with strong female protagonists. Truly epic in scope.

WAR FACTORY by Neal Asher

War Factory sees Neal Asher in top form. An intricate plot, fascinating characters and all the epic action you've come to expect. More, I want more!

FORSAKEN SKIES by D. Nolan Clark

Part Firefly, part Top Gun, Forsaken Skies is a story about first contact and stepping up when nobody else will. Plus it has some awesome space dogfighting!

POISON CITY by Paul Crilley

Paul Crilley’s Poison City is the fantastical love child of Supernatural and a Lauren Beukes novel. Part urban fantasy, part crime novel this is a pure twisted reading delight. And who wouldn't want to read about a magical talking dog with a penchant for booze? Read the full review.

UPDRAFT by Fran Wilde

An unusual coming-of-age story set in an utterly fascinating and imaginative world where crimes have physical weight and people take to the skies. Read the full review.

NEMESIS GAMES by James S.A. Corey

It's the Expanse, no further explanation needed. The series keeps getting better and I loved this far more intimate look at the other characters in the series.


I wish you all a Happy New Year. Here's hoping that 2017 will be a less tragic year filled with awesome books and zero nuclear explosions. (2017 is going to be 1 second shorter than 2016 so it's already off to a great start!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On My Radar: Galactic Empires

Next month Night Shade Books releases Galactic Empires an anthology of science fiction stories edited by Neil Clarke. With a line-up of authors featuring both accomplished veterans and the rising talents of the genre this is one anthology that you definitely won't want to miss out on.

GALACTIC EMPIRES edited by Neil Clarke
ISBN: 978-1-59780-884-2
Release Date: 17 January 2017
Pre-order a copy

Neil Clarke, publisher of the award-winning Clarkesworld magazine, presents Galactic Empires a collection of thought-provoking and galaxy-spanning short science fiction.

From E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman, to George Lucas’s Star Wars, the politics and process of Empire have been a major subject of science fiction’s galaxy-spanning fictions. The idiom of the Galactic Empire allows science fiction writers to ask (and answer) questions that are shorn of contemporary political ideologies and allegiances. Here then is a diverse collection of stories that asks the questions that science fiction asks best. Empire: How? Why? And to what effect?

Contributors include: Neal Asher, Ann Leckie, Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and many more!

Table of Contents:
  • “Winning Peace” by Paul J. McAuley
  • “Night’s Slow Poison” by Ann Leckie
  • “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare
  • “Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson
  • “Riding the Crocodile” by Greg Egan
  • “The Lost Princess Man” by John Barnes
  • “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Alien Archeology” by Neal Asher
  • “The Muse of Empires Lost” by Paul Berger
  • “Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee
  • “A Cold Heart” by Tobias S. Buckell
  • “The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg
  • “The Impossibles” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • “Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson
  • “Section Seven” by John G. Hemry
  • “The Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” by Ken Scholes
  • “The Man with the Golden Balloon” by Robert Reed
  • “Looking Through Lace” by Ruth Nestvold
  • “A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem
  • “The Wayfarer’s Advice” by Melinda M. Snodgrass
  • “Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik
  • “Verthandi’s Ring” by Ian McDonald

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Fan-O-Rama: A Futurama Fan Film

If you are a fan of Futurama (and who isn't) this live-action fan-made short is definitely worth watching. The attention to detail is astonishing for a fan production and it's obviously a labour of love. Unfortunately they didn't manage to tell a complete story due to budget constraints, but it's still a fun homage to watch despite the rather abrupt ending.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: The Librarians And The Lost Lamp

Title: The Librarians And The Lost Lamp
Author: Greg Cox
Pages: 286
ISBN: 9780765384089
Series: The Librarians #1
Publisher: Tor
Published: October 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

For millennia, the Librarians have secretly protected the world by keeping watch over dangerous magical relics. Cataloging and safeguarding everything from Excalibur to Pandora’s Box, they stand between humanity and those who would use the relics for evil.

Ten years ago, only Flynn Carsen, the last of the Librarians, stood against an ancient criminal organization known as The Forty. They stole the oldest known copy of The Arabian Nights by Scheherazade, and Flynn fears they intend to steal Aladdin’s fabled lamp. He races to find it first before they can unleash the trapped, malevolent djinn upon the world.

Today, Flynn is no longer alone. A new team of inexperienced Librarians, led by Eve Baird, their tough-as-nails Guardian, investigates an uncanny mystery in Las Vegas. A mystery tied closely to Flynn’s original quest to find the lost lamp... and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
Who do you call when magic runs rampant in the world? The Librarians of course! Not just any librarians – THE Librarians, a secret organization tasked with safeguarding the world from magical relics and those who want to misuse their power for evil.

I stumbled across The Librarians TV show trying to fill the hole left in my life when Warehouse 13 came to an end. The quirky characters, snarky quips, literary references and madcap adventures hooked me, delivering that sense of endless wonder I had been craving. Sure, the acting and special effects can be cheesy but that’s all part of the series’ heart-warming charm. So when I heard a tie-in novel was in the works I just HAD to read it.

The Librarians and the Lost Lamp is an immensely entertaining read. Greg Cox manages to capture the tone and feel of the TV series perfectly. All the beloved characters are there and they just come to life on the page. Fans of the series will feel right at home; newcomers might feel a little lost at first, but there is enough backstory included to quickly bring you up to speed before you are swept up in the globe-spanning adventure that traverses both past and present as the librarians use their knowledge and unconventional skills to save the world.

Tie-in novels can be a hit and miss affair, but The Librarians and the Lost Lamp exceeded all my expectations. This would make a stellar episode on the show, but trying to fit in the entire scope of the novel might strain their budget to breaking point. That’s the beauty of the written word. You get the cinematic experience without the budget constraints!

Just like the TV series the novels are the perfect antidote for when you are feeling down. I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy, The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase, to be released.

The Verdict:
If you are looking for a quick, fun, heart-warming read filled with wit, quirky characters and astounding adventures then The Librarians and the Lost Lamp is just what the librarian ordered. The novel remains true to the show but still offers a charm of its own. There’s just something magical reading a book about librarians on the hunt for a relic drawn straight from the pages of The Arabian Nights. It’s weird and wonderful and makes for a captivating, immensely entertaining read with enough twists along the way to keep you guessing.

The Rating: 7 (Very Good)

And just in case you aren't familiar with The Librarians TV show, there are 2 seasons worth of awesome that awaits you with the third season just starting.

Thanks to Diana Griffin from Tor for providing the review copy.