Monday, August 29, 2011

Rule 34, Heaven's Shadow and Autumn: Purification reviwed

Rule 34
Charles Stross
Ace, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441020348

In 2023, the police conduct 24/7 surveillance of the Internet as a crime prevention method in order to capture illegal porn peddlers. Edinburgh PD Detective Investigator Liz Kavanaugh heads the Rule 34 Crime Investigation Unit that monitors the Net for illegal activity usually extreme porn although she loathes her position.

Three similar homicides occur around the world. Because each is tied to BDSM and drugs, Kavanaugh leads the inquiry into the Scottish murder of dealer Michael Blair. To the DI, this is the case that will revise her dying career. However, her investigation seems to get increasingly murkier as she and her team discovers strange seemingly unrelated clues to the murder that ties to the felonious Toymaker and others with official protection as well as her former lover.

A few years have passed since the events of the Halting State, but if anything the Stross world has grown darker with a deeper nod to Huxley’s 1984. Vividly bleak while extrapolating the philosophy of those who want small government with a Big Brother “patriotic” morality oversight, the story line focuses on society monitoring and censoring the internet. The second case viewpoint adds to that sense of detachment and grimness but the key to this exciting unique police procedural is the enforcement of Rule 34 makes or breaks careers. Harriet Klausner

Heaven's Shadow
David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt
Ace, $25.96
ISBN: 9780441020331

Three years ago, the hundred miles wide object was spotted in the Solar System on a course to the sun. As the planetoid comes closer to its journey’s end, America and a combine of Russia, India and Brazil send a rival manned spacecraft to land on the projectile.

Instead of a rock or gases as expected, the object is an ancient space ship. As the astronauts search the vessel, their entrance turns on machines that have been dormant for eons. Even more eerie is the dead come to life as the earthlings struggle to survive increasingly lethal environs while trying to learn the purpose of the ship and its sentient passengers. On earth NASA officials stay in touch with the crew but grandstanding politicians do what they always do when it comes to effective governing by agencies; they interfere for personal gain.

Heaven's Shadow
is a faster than the speed of light science fiction that targets readers who prefer action to the nth degree. None of the cast is fully developed, but fans who relish an outer space potentially disaster thriller along the lines of movies like Armageddon will appreciate this exciting tale of first contact. Harriet Klausner

Autumn: Purification
David Moody
Dunne, Aug 16 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312569990

It took under 24 hours for the germ or whatever it was to kill 99% of the world population. However, those who died did not stay dead but arose to move around aimlessly. The only time they stopped meandering was when they found human who were immune to the disease. People banded together in communities as a means of staying alive because isolation meant vicious death dealt by these undead. One pocket found an underground lab in a bunker in as their haven. Hiding is the only way to prevent these creatures from decimating what is left of mankind.

The British army keeps the living separated just in case any are contagion carriers like a Typhoid Mary. The undead are unable to reach humans in the facility until thousands arrive blocking the air ducts leading from the outside. Those trying to fix the problem fail as the corpses overrun the facility forcing the survivors to flee. They meet Richard, a helicopter pilot, who flies them to an airfield where they take shelter. On the isolated Island of Cormansey, the survivors kill the undead making the place habitable. The cadavers know people are in the airfield building and there is no way to fly to the island.

The undead are killers tearing apart live flesh, but are not cannibalistic zombies. Each character has a story to tell in the naked city that has become London, but the poignant tale is that of Michael and Emma who met and fell in love after the apocalypse destroyed civilization as we know it. The story line is fast-paced as the undead keep on coming while humans try to remain a step (make that a kilometer) ahead of them. Fans will enjoy David Moody’s third the Autumn mankind horror thriller (see Autumn and Autumn the City) as those undead survivors are beginning to learn how to use their senses. Harriet Klausner

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