Aukon's Science Fiction Book Corner

Of Fire and Night. Written by Kevin J Anderson. $TBA.

Little need to introduce Kevin J Anderson. If you read Sci-fi you know who he is, if you don't then find his books and read them. He is in my opinion one of the best of the sci-fi writers out there at the moment. Of Fire and Night is the fifth book in his Saga of the Seven Suns Series. Not having read them before getting this volume to review I grabbed the others and read them first. Basically the war between the Hydrogues and the Human – Ildariran alliance appears to be heading for a climatic showdown. However much else is happening throughout the known universe.

In the Ildariran Empire the new Mage-Imperator Jora'h, having defeated the rebellious forces of his brother and eldest son, is now attempting to save the remainder of the empire from destruction at the hands of the Hydrogues. The Roamers, maverick human settlers are having their problems as well. Chased and hunted by the forces of the Hansa, they are attempting to regroup. But even under these pressures they are still attempting to fight the Hydrogues. Discovering a derelict Hydrogues warship they are able to develop a effective weapon against them, while their seeding of water worlds with the remnants of the Wentals, has given the Hydrogues a new ally who is ready to rejoin the fight after a break of millennia.

On Theroc, partially devastated by the Hydrogues attack, they are given hope and the world forest new energy by the return of the Verdani battleships, giving the world forest the power to now attack the Hydrogues and defend there home planet. But on Earth things are not going well. Basil Wenceslas Hansa chairman is getting more and more desperate. His forces are losing to the drogues, he sees King Peter as a threat since he is no longer willing to be a cypher for the chairman while the Hansa is ripped apart. But more bad news arrives. The enigmatic Klikiss robots are now making their move against humanity, and activate a sleeper program in the entire force of Hansa combat robots that gives them control of the majority of the Hansa defence forces.

It all heads to a climatic battle above earth, but there is still more shocks to come. This is one of the best Sci-fi series that I have read in a long time. There is at least one more book in the series to go, but if you want to read this I seriously recommend starting the series from the beginning and working your way through the entire series. Reviewed by Eddie.

Vellum. Written by Hal Duncan. $TBA.

Vellum is the first novel from new Scottish writer Hal Duncan. Born in 1971, Hal lives in the West End of Glasgow and is a member of the Glasgow SF Writers Circle. He works p
art time as a computer programmer while working on a sequel to the novel called Ink.

Vellum, set in the not to distant future is an interesting work. This is the story of Phreedom Messenger and her hunt for her missing brother Thomas. Both are unkin, a group of people who can move between our world and the Vellum, a huge universe type realm that seems to link everything and everywhere. The unkin are split between to groups, the Angles and the Devils, the former being fighting for order and the devils for chaos. Both groups have members who over the eons have been rulers and gods for mortals. Both Phreedom and her brother are attempting to hide from both groups who either recruit you or kill you if you are an undecided unkin.

I found this book complicated and confusing, but I think if you can persevere through this novel you will enjoy it.
Reviewed by Eddie.

The Chosen One. Written by Alan J. Garner. $27.99RRP.

A mysterious explosion in the depths of space sets a huge asteroid on a collision course with prehistoric Earth. This is tracked by the troubled Gideon seeking to atone for the destruction rogue asteroid this would cause to life on Earth. Meanwhile on Earth Bronte the Thunderfoot was having her own troubles; she was granddaughter of the Matriarch of her clan & eventually expected to take up clan leadership whether she wanted it or not. She decides to rebel against this & sneak out into the undergrowth for a clandestine rendezvous with her best friend a “mere male” called Chappy but this would be a meeting she would never forget.

After I got past the “dinosaurs with pea sized brains” using words I had to think about the meanings of for a second (or in some cases several. Must start reading those Readers Digest “Wordpower” thingies again) Over all I really enjoyed this book & apart from a few minor faults (which I will come to a bit later on) its hard to believe this is a first novel from this local author, the characters are well constructed & believable (to be honest at times I was so carried away with the narrative almost forgot they were huge dinosaurs).

My only minor criticisms were there were so many good ideas going on here that at times the plot seemed to me to be a little rushed in parts & could have easily been stretched over a couple of books, the jury is still out on the ending which seemed a little bit forced & that as for the cover, books being judged by them & all: not the best (yikes) but don’t let that put you off this intelligent, enjoyable, very readable book. Reviewed by Smith.

Light From A Distant Universe. Reviewed by Rob Kirk. $TBA

Fahmeh lives in a peaceful village of seafarers her mother the clan matriarch is overdue on a fishing village, which leads her father to consult the mysterious entity occupying the forbidden Tower. Fahmeh tags along to offer support to her father little knowing what this act will entail for her & her world….

 When a book starts with a four-page list of unusually named characters & attendant occupations, I know I’m in for trouble, add to that a tangled (at best) disjointed plot line & you have a recipe for an extremely frustrating read. This story is set in the “far future of earth after man has departed” & mainly follows the interactions of a couple of matriarchal societies dealing with the artefacts left behind & possibility of alien invasion. The animals the story focuses on are not really fully described so my best guess being like an evolved “far future” Otter (uppermost in my recent subconscious after the one escaped from the local zoo) as they are furry, walk erect & love the water.

There is one peaceful fishing/agricultural island rich with forgotten technology & a militaristic island that craves this technology (& uses submarines; cool !!! ) & is bound by treaty to defend the world against an intergalactic enemy. Both of these are Matriarchal societies then there are Pirates who have a more equal society coupled with off world branches of the society & then there were the godlike Sentinels. All of these I thought deserved to be investigated in more detail. As there were some great ideas going on here & I genuinely think there is cracking story trying to escape that better plotting & pacing of the narrative would have greatly helped (perhaps even having this story spread over a few books).

 I get the feeling being a first novel that there are just too many good ideas in the mix which has left a jumbled mess. An opportunity wasted unfortunately. Reviewed by Smith.