Bolo Series

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Created by Keith Laumer and then followed on by many others, this series was very entertaining whilst not being fine literature.

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Old Soldiers

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This is a more traditional bolo book than The Road to Damascus, which means I enjoyed it more. I’m a little sad that its the last one of the series, but there is another one coming soon (entitled Their Finest Hour due out in August) which gives me something to hang out for. This book gives some nice closure to operation Ragnarok, whilst not being too predictable. Overall I enjoyed it.

[isbn: 1416521046]

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The Road to Damascus

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I didn’t like this book. Bolo books should be about combat and human interactions with AI machines, which this book starts nicely with. However, the book then diverts from that and spends hundreds of pages ranting about how bad socialism is. Sure, the baddies are nasty, but its not a very believable rendition of communist Russia. Worse, the story is told with a whiney teenager I found deeply annoying as a character (she’s meant to be annoying, but I just didn’t care about her). Finally, after about 400 pages of such drivel, we finally get around to having some more actual bolo story. The finish of the story is ok, I just wished it didn’t take so long to get there. This is by far the weakest Bolo book I have read so far.

[isbn: 0743499166]

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Dragon’s Egg

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This book was strongly recommended by a friend, and has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for a while. Its my first real taste of “hard” science fiction, and I enjoyed it. The story is surprisingly fast moving given it has to cover the entire development of an intelligent species, and the process is interesting. There are strong parallels with our own past, which I guess isn’t that surprising a thing for an author to do. I’ve seen complaints that the human characters in this book are a bit one dimensional, but I think that’s unfair. The book isn’t about the humans, and they are there only to progress the plot. I think the human characters are fine. If you want to see poor character development, checkout Robot City and Robots and Aliens series.

[isbn: 034528349x]

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Home power measurement

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I’ve been spending some quality time with a Current Cost CC128 and my existing home sensor network. So far I’ve discovered that I use quite a bit of power, and that I can remotely monitor how many times a day my wife makes a cup of tea. Some example data:

You can see that it was relatively cool compared with days a few weeks ago today. That’s more obvious in the graph showing the last two weeks though:

However, it was quite humid today:

Which is why we didn’t have the evaporative cooler on, just the fan. That doesn’t seem to really affect our power usage, which really needs more analysis:

The 500 watt minimum power draw makes me unhappy. You can see over a week it never goes away:

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Dogs of War

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Another combat anthology, this time edited by David Drake.

  • Or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison): already read in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow and Body Armor: 2000.
  • Liberty Port (David Drake): already read in The Complete Hammer’s Slammer’s Volume 1.
  • Straw (Gene Wolfe): steam punk mercenaries in a future which is more like the past. A good read.
  • Tomb Tapper (James Blish): this one has a nice twist at the end, although I found the underlying premise of the story hard to believe.
  • A Relic of War (Keith Laumer): already read in The Compleat Bolo.
  • Basic Training (Mark L Van Name): this one is a bit sad. Well, all of the stories in this book are sad, but I find this one a bit harder than others because the main character is about the age of my kids.
  • Witch War (Richard Matheson): an interesting little tale which doesn’t end up at all like you expect.
  • Transstar (Raymond Banks): I didn’t think this story was all that good when I was reading it the other night, but its the one I kept thinking about for the next day. There are lots of interesting issues raised here — arrogance, response, the cost / benefit of aggression.
  • Time Piece (Joe Haldeman): this story is very much like a small summary of The Forever War, which makes it disappointing in a way… The book is better, and this story glosses over many of the issues.
  • Clash by Night (Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore): this story is interesting because it prompted a sub-genre all of its own about mercenaries in the future. However, this story is entertaining by not earth shatteringly great.

[isbn: 0446610895]

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Body Armor: 2000

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I love a good anthology, although I’d read a few of these stories before:

  • Contact! (David Drake): this story is quite unlike the other stuff of his that I have read, mostly because its set in the Vietnam War, not the far future. A good story with an excellent twist.
  • The Warbots (Larry S. Todd): this one wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what point the author was trying to make, if any. Its just a long history of imaginary weapons.
  • The Scapegoat (C. J. Cherryh): this is long, being a novella, and a little hard to read in places because the story jumps around. Overall, a good read though. My first Cherryh, although I have a lot queued up on the shelf.
  • The Last Crusade (George H. Smith): this was a good story, and would have fit well in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow as it has a similar war-is-hopeless tone.
  • Hired Man (Richard C. Meredith): there is a nice twist at the end of this one, although its obvious a few pages before it happens.
  • Early Model (Robert Sheckley): I was surprised by this one, its the first Sheckley story I’ve read that I didn’t hate. Its not fantastic, but its way better than Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains or his story in Foundation’s Friends.
  • In the Bone (Gordon R. Dickson): this story is odd, and I’m not 100% sure what I think of it. It was entertaining, but also a little hard to believe.
  • The Chemically Pure Warriors (Allen Kim Lang): this was a good story, being quite reminiscent of Tilley’s Amtrak Wars series.
  • Right To Life (Thomas A. Easton): this story is in the same vein as Make Room, Make Room! and Logan’s Run, whilst still being distinct and interesting.
  • Or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow.
  • Hero (Joe Haldeman): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, and was turned into The Forever War.

    [isbn: 0441069762]

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Lyonesse

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This is another book I read as a child, except in this case I didn’t really remember much of it — the only bit I remembered was the punishment of Madouc’s mother, but that might have been because I was a teenaged boy at the time. Overall this is a very good book. It took me a while to read because of being distracted with other projects, but the ongoing oppression of Princess Suldrun didn’t really help either — it was interesting at first, but got depressing after a while. Its also disturbing how many times sexual assault is used as a plot element in this book…

[award: nominee nebula_novel 1983]
[isbn: 0441505309]

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