Thursday, April 21, 2011

Four from Harriett

Hopefully I'll get back on track soon and have some new reviews for you.

Back to the Moon
Travis S. Taylor and Les Johnson
Baen, Dec 7 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439134054

The second race to the moon has begun between America and China, but also trying to beat the big nations to the earth satellite is the private sector firm Space Excursions. NASA selects astronaut Bill Stetson as the mission commander of the first American flight to the moon since Apollo ended four decades ago. Space Excursions CEO Gary Childers selects Paul Gesling to serve as chief pilot of Dreamscape to orbit the moon with wealthy clients.

However, during test runs nothing goes right for the Space Excursions flight or with the NASA launch. Bill takes control and soon realizes the same defective circuit board caused the problems; a circuit board made in China. At the same time a malware Trojan horse sends Space Excursions hardware and software information to China. As NASA counts down to the moon launch, China sends a ship into space while the Dreamscape leaves earth with five passengers on board. They soon find a shocker waiting for them that changes NASA’s lunar landing plan.

The two authors bring their NASA experience to this exiting entertaining space race science fiction thriller. Their background in propulsion technology serves well for this fun thriller as the audience learns much about the science of rocketing into space while also feeling as if we are part of the crew. Though the cast is not as developed beyond heroism, readers will relish this exhilarating Back to the Moon as the space race returns with two new contenders including a private sector entry challenging America for supremacy beyond the troposphere. Harriet Klausner

Thirteen Years Later
Jasper Kent
PYR, Feb 1 2011, $17.00
ISBN: 9781616142537

By 1825, Europe including Russia continues to revel in peace and prosperity. Napoleon and the French were defeated over a decade ago. Russian Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov was on the winning side, but in his opinions his true victory was over the dozen Oprichniki mercenary voordalak monsters that destroyed the advancing French and the nearby Russian villagers; he prefers not to ever think about the bloody horror again (see Twelve) as even the thought chills his blood.

Still Tsar Aleksandr I fears for his family and his country as a pledge made in blood was broken a century ago. However, it is not the revolutionary Decembrists that have the Russian ruler trembling; the other party in that blood debt is coming to collect. Aleksandr’s only hopes he will be able save his soul, but he fears it is too late for his life, and to keep his family and his fellow Russians safe remains with loyal Aleksei. Worried about his wife, teenage son Dmitry and four year old daughter Tamara, the colonel realizes what he defeated during the Napoleonic War as they returned Thirteen Years Later to collect blood and souls.

The second Russian historical fantasy is a super tale as the hero of Twelve returns to the fray of fighting an invincible amoral beast who believe humans are toward the bottom of the food chain. Overall the story line is filled with action though the protagonist muses on all sorts of topics including his children, the Oprichniki, the new monster he faces, the revolutionaries, and his loyalty to the Tsar. Tied to the Tsar’s real mysterious death on December 1 1825 in Taganrog and the confusion that ensued, fans will enjoy this epic saga as the voordalak blood suckers have returned. Harriet Klausner

James Barclay
PYR, Jan 1 2011, $17.00
ISBN: 9781616142520

Xetesk began the open hostilities when the College assaulted depleted Julatsa, who lost so much in people and treasure during the Wesmen wars (see Chronicles of the Raven trilogy). The other two colleges Lystern and Dordover join the fray as they see opportunities to defeat both rivals, but must figure out what to do with what remains of the Raven, which saved the land and the Colleges.

As the Balaian continent to the west is aflame after a foolish alliance with Xetesk, Lord Tessaya of the Paleon Tribes rallies his Wesmen warriors under a battle cry of avenging their defeat. Lord of the Mount, Dystran knows his Xetesk faces a horrible defeat at the hands of the western barbarians who he believes stupidly ban magic. Desperate, he uses the forbidden horrific dimensional magic as nothing will stand in his way of being world ruler even insanely at the cost of the world. He rips asunder the dimensional barriers leaving his world open for a demonic genocide. With no dragons and not at full strength, Raven is the last hope to prevent soul cleansing by the invading demon horde.

The third Legends of the Raven fantasy (see Shadowheart and Elf Sorrow) is a terrific final tale as grim and eerie as the previous ones. Action-packed and fast-paced, fans will relish this deep tale with a message for leaders to lead for the benefit of all and not just to grab more power at the cost of others (think of the Senator whose sole vision for the country is to defeat Obama in 2012 by fiddling as Nero to stonewall the president). James Barclay provides a great ending to his profound two sagas as all of the books focus on the abuse and misuse of power in what are some of the best political military thrillers in years. Harriet Klausner

The Omega Theory
Mark Alpert
Touchstone, Feb 15 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9781416595342

Iran tests a nuclear device; a Columbia University physicist, based on readings from scientific instruments, claims that for a nanosecond the test ripped asunder the universe as if the Big Bang was about to explode. On the same day, the Upper Manhattan Autism Center informs science historian David Swift and his physicist wife, Monique Reynolds that their nineteen years old autistic adopted son Michael Gupta was snatched.

The True Believers cult kidnapped Michael, whose ancestor is Einstein and who has memorized his late relative’s little known Unified Field’s Final Theory. Worried for their son, FBI special agent Lucille Parker joins Swift and Reynolds on the rescue quest because the True Believers plan to deploy the Omega Theory as those who know the Big Bang of alpha creation also know the Big Crunch of omega nothingness.

From New York to Jerusalem to Turkmenistan, the chase is on as the good guy scientists (angels) battle the bad guy cultists (devils). Although none of the cast is developed beyond their role in the potential apocalypse final war, fans will enjoy the non-stop action as Mark Alpert provides an exhilarating Big Crunch thriller. Harriet Klausner

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