Fire with Fire by Charles Gannon
Fire with Fire is the first Baen novel I’ve ever read that wasn’t written by Lois McMaster Bujold! Is that crazy or what? Although, I read it concurrently with The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, which Baen published in 1988. One has to give proper dues, after all.
Charles Gannon’s first solo-novel is a science fiction thriller that has something in common with H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy if it were dropped into the middle a science fictional spy novel and Jack Holloway was a polymath instead of a prospector turned legal advocate. That’s really not a good description at all, but roll with it.
Gannon presents a galaxy spanning space opera setting, but only arrives there after a lengthy ‘prologue’ (half the book?) where humanity extends its reach among the stars. At a critical point in that expansion, Fire with Fire becomes a story of first contact.… Read the rest
Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
Remember when I made a bit of a stink that Range of Ghosts wasn’t nominated for a Hugo? I am even more vindicated by the exceptional quality of the sequel, Shattered Pillars. The new novel picks up right where Range of Ghosts left off with a disgraced horse lord and his wizard lover fighting against a fundamental religious megalomaniac.
There are times when Bear is a little unclear with her intent, or the inherent fuzziness of the magic raises an eyebrow, but couched in Bear’s gorgeous prose and confident voice everything comes off pitch perfect. I really can’t emphasize the point enough. Even when Shattered Pillars stumbles a bit with its pace or flow, there’s nothing that can derail my enjoyment because it’s just so well written. I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Bear’s, and I’ll be reading the next book in the series the second I get it.… Read the rest
The Ramal Extraction by Steve Perry
In the 24th Century, the Galactic Union’s Army is stretched thin and mercenary units fill in the gaps. Headed up by retired Colonel R.A. Cutter, the Cutter Force Initiative is a multi-species contractor for training, protection, extraction, or assassination. If the price is right, and it won’t run them afoul of the real Army, they’re game. This time around it’s a kidnapping. Rags’ and his crew are called in to find and rescue the daughter of the New Mumbai rajah. Rest assured, things are a little more complicated, both militarily and politically, than a simple rescue operation.
Unfortunately, Ramal Extraction is about as entertaining as a tooth extraction. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of action, or things going on, it’s all just very conventional–a small squad military thriller that just happens to be set in science fictional milieu. There’s the expected banter between different members of the squad, some secrets about its leader, and a green recruit or two to contrast how hardened the veterans truly are.… Read the rest