The Fifth Element

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I liked the movie, and the book was cheap, so how bad could it be I thought to myself. The answer is terrible. Its in a big font with large margins, and still only a little over 200 pages long (in other words really short), however its not very well written either, which means that’s merciful. The book is full of discussion of how under dressed the young women that is the Fifth Element is. The. Whole. Time. Not the worst book I’ve ever read, but certainly not one I will read again. Oh and what’s with lines like “the search engines cranked and groaned”? Groan. Oh and what’s with lines like “the search engines cranked and groaned”? Groan.

[isbn: 0006483461]

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Hell’s Faire

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The final book in the Earth based Posleen war series. This should really have been part of the previous book (When the Devil Dances), but that would have made it a 1,100 page book. I’ve seen some complaints that these two books needed editing, but I feel that’s not totally fair. They didn’t feel padded, and I’m not sure what’ you’d leave out of them. Sure, there are characters who are introduced in reasonable detail in order to then die, but isn’t war like that? I like that you couldn’t really guarantee that all the good guys would survive for once.

The remainder of the books in this universe are share cropped. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

[isbn: 0743488423]

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When the Devil Dances

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The humans are still getting their arse kicked, and it seems like the Posleen might be learning something approximating reasonable tactics. If this book was just that, then it would be a disappointing addition to the series (A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front come before this book). However, there is also some interesting science fiction happening here. It seems there is some sort of conspiracy to control the humans, and there is certainly some dodgy human experimentation going on. Overall, a good book apart from the cliff hanger at the end — I would be annoyed if I couldn’t just pick up the next book straight away.

[isbn: 0743436024]

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Agent to the Stars

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There is something a little bit annoying about Scalzi. Take this book for example — it is his practise book that he wrote to see if he even could write a coherent book. He didn’t even intend to ever publish it. Yet it is really really good. Oh, its not his best book, but it better than many other books I’ve read. Its funny, interesting, entertaining, and yet thoughtful as well. I loved it.

[isbn: 0765357003;9780765357007]

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Gust Front

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This is the sequel to A Hymn Before Battle, and its a better book to be honest. That’s fair enough given Hymn was Ringo’s first book. This book spends less time on the politics of incompetent officers (although there is a bit of that), and introduces a little bit more of the political intrigue running in the Federation. The combat sequences are pretty well done too. Overall its good to see Ringo developing as an author and I enjoyed this book.

[isbn: 0743435257]

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Polar City Blues

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My first Katharine Kerr science fiction novel. There is a lot happening in this book: an inversion between the expected racism in our society; multiple alien species; political intrigue; murder; disease; and a first contact with a new alien species. The book could have included fewer plot elements and still have been excellent. Regardless, this book is quite good, and very unexpected from what I consider to be a fantasy author.

[isbn: 0553285041]

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Asterix The Gaul

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This is the first book in the Asterix comic series which I loved as a child. I’ve decided I’m going to re-read them over the next little while, assuming I like the first few. This book introduces the characters, and covers the attempted infiltration of the village by a Roman spy. He learns the secret of the Gaul’s strength, and tells the Romans. The Romans then of course have to capture the druid and torture him into tell them the secret. People get thumped quite a lot, an excellent read.

[isbn: 9780752866055]

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The Dolphins of Pern

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This is quite a different book from most of the recent Pern books because of its leisurely pace. Its a nice read, although it feels like not much actually happens in the book. Unfortunately the plot is pretty much a cliche at this point — child has special affinity for animal X, parents don’t understand, child pursues said affinity anyways, falls out with parents, ultimately proves that animal X is actually super awesome and important for Pern, group hugs. So, this book is an ok read, but lazily plotted and nothing much happens.

[isbn: 0345368959]

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Buying Time

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This book isn’t Haldeman’s best work (checkout The Forever War, The Forever Peace, or Marsbound for examples of his really good stuff). I found the characters largely unsympathetic, and the plot quite slow. The book is also odd in that it was written in 1989, but is full of stuff you’d expect to see from a Heinlein novel like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — global conspiracies, Russian space colonies with vigilante law, that sort of thing.

Interestingly, the plot twist is much more smoothly done than many other Haldeman novels, which is nice.

[award: nominee prometheus 1990]
[isbn: 0380704390]

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A Hymn Before Battle

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This is an interesting book in that it lays down a reasonably believable scenario and then doesn’t really resolve it. Its obviously setting up for a series, and while the local micro plot is resolved, there is clearly a larger story arc that wants telling here. The book isn’t happy or uplifting, it is downright depressing in places. Regardless, I still finding myself hanging out for the next one in the series.

[isbn: 0671318411]

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