Here is another Blast from the Past, zooming past at light speed…

I read this one in 2016…

Miasma (Star Trek: The Original Series)
by Greg Cox

Formulaic Trek with all the usual tropes, down to the amusing banter at the end.

I would have liked a little beforehand info, where to slot this into canon. Between Final Frontier and Undiscovered Country, maybe? Based on the hints given, I would suggest only reading this after at least having seen The Voyage Home, not earlier, to avoid spoilers. 

If I ever in my life should encounter a vehicle called Galileo, I will not be getting into that doomed deathtrap!

Despite the dire circumstances the crew finds themselves in after their crash landing, the story did not build up much tension for me until the second half of it. In terms of character and plot development this felt like a much shorter story. Nothing very exciting, nothing new or unusual, nice to have for any fans of the original series.

I received this free copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!


January 8, 2016 – Started Reading

January 9, 2016 – 10.0% “He had taken part in more Starfleet funerals than he cared to remember, including his own.

January 9, 2016 – 25.0% “Ok, here is my guess. Sentient fog? Don’t tell me!”

January 9, 2016 – 40.0% “One redshirt left to go…”

January 9, 2016 – 85.0% “Spock doing a Gandalf impression, nice.”

January 9, 2016 – Finished Reading

The Enterprise-A is transporting a party of diplomats when it picks up a mysterious alien signal emanating from a nearby world. The planet’s dense, impenetrable atmosphere makes it unclear if the beacon is a distress signal, an invitation—or a warning to stay away. Spock, Doctor McCoy, and Chekov are part of a team sent to investigate, but an unexpected catastrophe forces a crash landing. Now the landing party is stranded on a hostile world, unable to communicate with the Enterprise. While Captain Kirk and Saavik race to locate the lost crew, a badly wounded Spock struggles to keep McCoy and the others alive until they can be rescued, even if that means making an unthinkable sacrifice…

Goodreads blurb

Blast from the past with Kirk and Spock

Another old review, never before posted here, read in 2015…

Shadow of the Machine
by Scott Harrison

The story fits in well after the original Star Trek motion picture, the characters stay true to the original series. I liked the various plotlines, but this was too short to explore any of the themes in depth.

Spock and the Vulcans in general seem to be a bit emotional to me. And Sulu came along as pretty bland in my opinion. But I never really liked Sulu, so I might be biased. 

Generally nice character studies, with a little bit of action towards the end to liven it up.

I recommend this to fans of the original series, but it is really only a little filler and it does not add anything relevant to the Star Trek universe.

An e-novella set in the Original Series universe—taking place immediately after the events of the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

After its recent encounter with V’ger, the U.S.S. Enterprise has returned to dry dock to finish its refit before commencing its second five-year mission. The crew has been granted a two-week period of shore leave before preparations for their next voyage begins. Shaken by their encounter with V’ger, Kirk, Spock, and Sulu travel to their respective homes and must reflect upon their lives—now forever changed.

Goodreads blurb

Developing the groundwork for the Mars Trilogy?

Icehenge
by Kim Stanley Robinson

The cover shows a structure similar to Stonehenge, on a rocky ground with a moon and space in the background. First published in 1984, which makes it his second published novel, several years before the Mars Trilogy. 

The age shows a little, one part of the political landscape is the Soviet Union, people print out and read paper books and Pluto is still the ninth planet.

We start in 2248 A.D., with Emma Weil on a spaceship in the asteroid belt. There is a revolution brewing on Mars and a mutiny on the ship. The revolution made me think of the Mars Trilogy.

Part Two is Hjalmar Nederland in 2547 A.D., an archaeologist excavating and exploring the Unrest of 2248. I liked the beginning, but skimmed through a lot of the second part of Hjalmar‘s story. Too reflective for my current mood. Great stuff for lovers of Mars stories towards the end. The political dynamics were again very reminiscent of the Mars Trilogy. Maybe Robinson expanded on this story and the idea he developed here for those later books. The story reflects on the loss of memories and self and how history is perceived.

Part Three: Edmond Doya, 2610 A.D., starting with him reminiscing about that expedition to Pluto in 2547, discovering Icehenge. He goes back to Pluto and tries to determine who built Icehenge and what it all means for the history that has been written. Again I liked the start and the ending and skimmed through the rest. The ending was pretty, but unsatisfactory. I don‘t think Robinson and I will become friends anymore, his style is too dry for me, at least in this.

Playlist:
Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings
Tomaso Albinoni, Adagio in G minor

Icehenge is Kim Stanley Robinson’s second novel, published in the same year as The Wild Shore, 1984. The novel consists of three stories connected through time, two of which were published before and significantly revised for the novel, and one written for the novel.
Icehenge deals with many themes, with each part complementing or shedding light to the other. In a background setting of the colonization of the solar system and social unrest in Mars, Icehenge explores the effects of longevity on human memory, historical memory, historical revisionism and the imperfect knowledge of past events.

https://www.kimstanleyrobinson.info/node/342

PS: I wonder if I would still like the Mars Trilogy, if I re-read it now. I don‘t wonder enough to actually try though. This has been on my shelf since 2016, I am quite happy to give it a send-off now.

And we have a cover! More new stuff…

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7)
by Martha Wells

Will be published November 14th 2023 by Tordotcom…

Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

https://www.tor.com/2023/01/24/cover-reveal-murderbot-system-collapse-by-martha-wells/

Oh, and there will a new Singing Hills novella in September!

Mammoths at the Gate (The Singing Hills Cycle, #4)
by Nghi Vo

The wandering Cleric Chih returns home to the Singing Hills Abbey for the first time in almost three years, to be met with both joy and sorrow. Their mentor, Cleric Thien, has died, and rests among the archivists and storytellers of the storied abbey. But not everyone is prepared to leave them to their rest.

Because Cleric Thien was once the patriarch of Coh clan of Northern Bell Pass–and now their granddaughters have arrived on the backs of royal mammoths, demanding their grandfather’s body for burial. Chih must somehow balance honoring their mentor’s chosen life while keeping the sisters from the north from storming the gates and destroying the history the clerics have worked so hard to preserve.

https://www.tor.com/2023/01/25/cover-reveal-mammoths-at-the-gate-by-nghi-vo/

Not sure if I will get it, this will be another spur-of-the-moment decision in September!

Most anticipated books releasing in 2023, Part II

The infos about new released keep coming, this time from Tordotcom

…and the conclusion to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Final Architecture series, Lords of Uncreation (Orbit, May 2)… Martha Wells, author of the Murderbot Diaries, starts a new fantasy series with Witch King (Tordotcom Publishing, May 30), and James Rollins continues his epic Moonfall series with The Cradle of Ice (Tor Books, February 7)…

Tchaikovsky is an instabuy, I will get it as audio. I‘m a maybe about Witch King, my mood at the time will decide if I want to get and read that book right away. James Rollins is interesting—a few years ago I read several of his adventure novels. I did not follow him after that, so finding out that he writes an apparently successful specfic series was total news to me.

… and an Arkady Martine novella called Rose/House (Subterranean Press, March 1).

Hm, not sure… the description does not convince me just yet:

Rose/House (Hardcover), Published March 2023 by Subterranean Press

Arkady Martine, the acclaimed author of the Teixcalaan Series, returns with an astonishing new novella.

A house embedded with an artificial intelligence is a common thing: a house that is an artificial intelligence, infused in every load-bearing beam and fine marble tile with a thinking creature that is not human? That is something else altogether. But now Deniau’s been dead a year, and Rose House is locked up tight, as commanded by the architect’s will: all his possessions and files and sketches are confined in its archives, and their only keeper is Rose House itself. Rose House, and one other.

Dr. Selene Gisil, one of Deniau’s former protégé, is permitted to come into Rose House once a year. She alone may open Rose House’s vaults, look at drawings and art, talk with Rose House’s animating intelligence all she likes. Until this week, Dr. Gisil was the only person whom Rose House spoke to.

There is a dead person in Rose House. The house says so. It is not Basit Deniau, and it is not Dr. Gisil. It is someone else. Rose House, having completed its duty of care and informed Detective Maritza Smith of the China Lake police precinct that there is in fact a dead person inside it, dead of unnatural causes—has shut up.

Book blurb, shortened

I really liked the first Teixcalaan novel, A Memory Called Empire (my review), but the sequel was just ok. I missed the Netgalley for Rose/House, so I‘ll wait and see what my reading buddies think of this novella.

… and a continuation of Edward Aston’s sci-fi thriller Mickey7 titled Antimatter Blues (St. Martin’s Press, March 14).

Antimatter Blues (Mickey7, #2), Published March 14th 2023 by St. Martin’s Press

Edward Ashton’s Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

Book blurb

Now this is tempting! The first book (my review) was not a total hit, but I liked it well enough to be interested in the sequel…

And then there is this, no cover yet….

System Collapse (The Murderbot Diaries, #7), Published November 14th 2023 by Tordotcom

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Goodreads blurb

Maybe I should add another rule to my 2023 plans: only buying of new book allowed, if it‘s the continuation of an ongoing series or something by a favourite author.

Previous post: most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Great story, but odd writing style and pacing

To Each This World
by Julie E. Czerneda

The inhabitants of New Earth, the first Earth colony and home to Earth‘s surviving humanity, formed an alliance with the Kmet, an alien race. They receive news about the location of some of their own colony ships, sent out 200 years previously. Humans and aliens set out to find those colonists. Bad things happen. The true state of the human-alien partnership comes under question during the course of their expedition.

The writing style took some getting used to. Colloquial speech in writing, grammar be damned.

The pacing of this book was too slow, it took me forever to get past the first third of the story. Nearly gave up. There was a lot of idling. But I was also intrigued. Struggled onto the halfway point, still thinking about abandoning it. Muddled on. An low-and-behold, it got good! Great even! The action at the end made me happy. A bit too little, too late though. I appreciate all that world-building and set-up and character development, but I also wish the first half of the book had been half as long!

I cried at the end. Twice! I can‘t give it less than 4 stars, if I cry, right? Despite everything—what a slog.

Henry reminded me of Bren Cameron, just with less dress sense. The sandals were charming though. All of Henry was charming, really. Killian grew on me. And oh my goodness, those PIPs were adorable! And Flip! Loved him. It? Yes, the willy-bits were funny, too. And yes, I would get a sequel, despite the slog. I loved the construction of the portals. More portal mechanics would have been nice.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review.

Deep sea not of this Earth…

The Sea in the Sky
by Jackson Musker

This feels a bit like a primer on deep sea diving at first. Despite that there was very little science in this science fiction. There was a lot of character chatter that could have taken place in any kind of novel. Then there is some drama, obviously. I have to confess that I did not care. The voice acting did not convince me. I considered a DNF, but the last three chapters turned up with something interesting after all.

I was disappointed that the sound effects did not include more atmospheric sounds, aka the sounds of the ship diving through the ocean, wind, ice, etc. Instead there was this meditation music soundtrack. And for parts with more tension, the tempo of that soundtrack just sped up. Less Zen-music and more planetary background noises would have been nice.

Bottomline, nice idea, the plot was not a bad one after all. But the execution did not really grab me. It was ok. Right now I would not get anything else in this world or from this author on Amazon Originals. Probably.


This is the first book I finished in 2023. I joined an Alphabet Challenge on StoryGraph—not so much to motivate me to read more, but as a decision helper to pick my next read from my TBR shelf. I will start with my physical bookshelf and if I don‘t find a matching letter there, move on to my ebook shelf. And if I still don‘t have a matching letter, I will count my physical books and let a random number generator pick for me. That‘s the plan, anyway. For now the letter S is ticked off!

And besides tracking the origin countries of my read authors, I will also take a note of the book settings and publishing years. I don‘t think StoryGraph does that… The start looks like this:

book location / setting (Location)

Outer Solar System
Enceladus (moon, Saturn) — 1

book published in… (Year)
2020 — 1

Top Ten Tuesday — most anticipated books releasing in 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week‘s topic: top ten most anticipated books releasing in the first half of 2023

Another meme that I haven‘t done in a really long time. And I doubt that I will get together ten books. I don‘t check and plan ahead a lot for my reading. It‘s more of an accidental affair. So, anyway, let‘s see what I have planned already in terms of new books for this year…

I do not actually have anything newly published on my list until late April. So the title of this Top Ten Tuesday is right out of the window. Anyway, April!

In the Lives of Puppets
by T.J. Klune

This one is a maybe, I have plenty of other books on my T.J. Klune backlog.

In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe. 

Inspired by Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, and like Swiss Family Robinson meets Wall-EIn the Lives of Puppets is a masterful stand-alone fantasy adventure from the beloved author who brought you The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door.

Next one. I am not even sure this here will be published in May, as I can‘t find any dates about it anywhere besides its Goodreads bookpage:

Moon of the Turning Leaves (Moon of the … #2)
by Waubgeshig Rice

Twelve years have passed since a widespread blackout triggered the rapid collapse of society, when the constants of the old world—cell service, landlines, satellite and internet—disappeared. Twelve long years since the steady supply of food and fuel from the south became a thing of the past.

The sudden end of the world as everybody knew it, and the horrors of that first winter since everything became dark, only steeled the resolve of Evan Whitesky and the other members of the Anishinaabe community to survive on their own terms. Because the world wasn’t ending, as the community elders reminded them. It had already ended with the original displacement of their people to the far north by colonial authorities. They have seen this “apocalypse” before. They’ve seen it—lived it—over and over. But they had always survived. And they will survive this too.

http://www.bukowskiagency.com/Rice/Moon-of-the-Turning-Leaves.htm

The book was supposed to come out last year. Maybe Corona threw a wrench into the works? On Rice‘s Twitter he posts about a Fall 2022 draft, so work is still going on, fingers crossed. Sequel to MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW. My review of that book wasn‘t too favourable, when I read it in 2019. But the story has lingered, so it can‘t have been that average.

And another one for May:

Lords of Uncreation (The Final Architecture, #3)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the third and final novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

Loved the first one, struggled with the second one, have to read the third one to get closure.

The final book to come out in May, not sure yet if I will get it. Barring another Murderbot, I can settle:

Witch King
by Martha Wells

“I didn’t know you were a… demon.”
“You idiot. I’m the demon.”
Kai’s having a long day in Martha Wells’ WITCH KING….

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

Doesn‘t sounds all that different to dear old Murderbot, right?

And we finally move into June. ANOTHER IMPERIAL RADCH!!! Boy, did I wait long for this one! I got so fed up with waiting, I re-read the first Imperial Radch trilogy in 2021. Tea did not help with the waiting, dear!

Translation State (Imperial Radch)
by Ann Leckie

The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across the stars in this powerful new novel by award-winning author Ann Leckie. 

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It‘s the type of behavior that results in elimination. 

Squeee! Presger translator! So looking forward to this one!

At some point in 2023 there should be Mercy Thompson #14 by Patricia Briggs. That‘s all I know. No title or cover art yet. But I will definitely read it, when it comes out.

That was only six books, sorry! We‘ll see what other books will sneak up on me in the next few months! And then back to my owned pile of TBRs….

What’s the First Line of the First Book You’re Reading in 2023?

To Each This World
by Julie E. Czerneda

Beth Seeker cupped her hands to shade her eyes. Seared brown desert stretched to wavering distant lines that might have been hills, but you didn‘t use Human words for things in the Split.

Ok, that‘s two sentences, but the first sentence wasn‘t terribly exciting.

Why This Book: It‘s a buddy read of my favourite group on Goodreads. And I was lucky enough to get it through Netgalley. And it involves colony ships, aliens, communication—right down my alley.

The book blurb:

From an Aurora Award-winning author, a new sci-fi novel follows three intrepid humans caught up in a conflict that stretches across time and space.

Biologist Julie E. Czerneda’s new standalone science fiction novel, To Each This World follows a desperate mission to reconnect with long lost sleeper ships, sent centuries earlier from Earth to settle distant worlds.

A trio of Humans must work with their mysterious alien allies to rescue any descendants they can find on those worlds. Something is out there, determined to claim the cosmos for itself, and only on Earth will Humans be safe.

Or will they?

The challenge isn’t just to communicate with your own kind after generations have passed. It’s to understand what isn’t your kind at all.

And how far will trust take you, when the truth depends on what you are?

I am about 20% into the book now. I like it, the two humans that have been central so far, are great and likable characters. And the alien(s) is nicely wacky. However, the first few pages were a challenge. The writing style takes getting used to.

Prompt taken from Tor.com.

Dying Earth, part III

Dying Earths: Sixteen Stories from the Ends of Times
by Sue Burke and others…

Finished on New Year‘s Day! And I actually backdated the finishing date to the 31st of December, so I can start the new year with a clean cut. It might throw off my statistics a little — I already wrote my yearly wrap-up, it will go online on Friday or thereabouts. But I am not fussed enough to update that post. Or rather, I am working on letting go of my OCD. It makes me a little twitchy, but I‘ll cope… 😆

Ok, back to the last few stories of this anthology:

TELLTALE by Matthew Hughes ★★★☆☆ Fantasy
“Raffalon’s world had become monochrome: the thief stood on a shingle beach of gray stones, lapped by a gray sea beneath a gray sky.“
The author likes to use plenty of adjectives. Add to that a stilted prose, presumably to give a „fantasy“ feel. Ugh. The writing became more fluent after the first paragraphs. The story had the feel of a fairytale and had absolutely nothing to do with a dyeing Earth. It was ok.

THE MEAT PLAINS by Jeremy Megargee ★★½☆☆ SF
“Humans are a mass now, a great hideous stretch of fleshy plains spanning from one end of the globe to the other.“
Ugh, this was absurd and really disgusting. 

THE MIDWIVES by Jude Reid ★★★½☆ SF
Earth dies, some chose ones leave. This is the story of the descendants of those left behind.

THE SNOWS OF ADALON by Scott J. Couturier ★★★☆☆ Fantasy/SF
“Clouded over by perpetual white-gray miasma, wroth with terminal frost and cold, the planet is muffled in a cloak of blizzards.“
A blend of Fantasy and SF, with a sorcerer and his daughter stuck on a planet that was plunged into eternal winter. Salvation might be an escape capsule and the planet‘s moon.

ALONE IN IMALONE by Christopher Stanley ★★★★☆ Apocalyptic
Amusing little story about a guy trying to get onto one of the shuttles leaving Earth, before it blows up. 

CONVERTIR Andrew by Leon Hudson ★★★★★ Fantasy?
“When even something so evident as the changing of the climate becomes a matter of faith, to be accepted or rejected at the whim of the individual… in what sense is there a settled material reality at all?”
We start at the compound of a religious cult, but end up debating the perception of reality, fake news and the willful ignorance of facts that seems to be so abundant right now. Pretty wacky, but good.

This last story led me to an online SF magazine: https://mythaxis.co.uk

What I liked about this anthology:
It reminded me that I like Sue Burke. She is probably the main reason why I got this a while back. I met some new authors.

What I did not like about this anthology:
Considering the name of this anthology, I expected stories of the apocalypse. Dyeing Earth. Right? In quite a few of these stories the presence of Earth was incidental and we could have been anywhere. And even the apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic setting seemed to be more of an afterthought or something in the sidelines. It was not a focal point. The title also incorporated „Ends of Time“, but it still feels a little like the book topic was missed. Still, mostly enjoyable.

Link to the review of the first set of stories.

Link to the second set of story reviews.