Caliban’s War

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This is the second book in the Leviathan Wakes series by James SA Corey. Just as good as the first, this is a story about how much a father loves his daughter, moral choices, and politics — just as much as it is the continuation of the story arc around the alien visitor. I haven’t seen this far in the Netflix series, but I sure hope they get this right, because its a very good story so far.

Caliban's War Book Cover Caliban's War
James S. A. Corey
Fiction
Orbit Books
April 30, 2013
624

For someone who didn't intend to wreck the solar system's fragile balance of power, Jim Holden did a pretty good job of it. While Earth and Mars have stopped shooting each other, the core alliance is shattered. The outer planets and the Belt are uncertain in their new - possibly temporary - autonomy. Then, on one of Jupiter's moons, a single super-soldier attacks, slaughtering soldiers of Earth and Mars indiscriminately and reigniting the war. The race is on to discover whether this is the vanguard of an alien army, or if the danger lies closer to home.

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Leviathan Wakes

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I read this book based on the recommendation of Richard Jones, and its really really good. A little sci-fi, a little film noir, and very engaging. I also like that bad things happen to good people in the story — its gritty and unclean enough to be believable.

I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, but I really enjoyed this and have already ordered the sequels. Oh, and there’s a Netflix series based off these books that I’ll now have to watch too.

Leviathan Wakes Book Cover Leviathan Wakes
James S.A. Corey
Fiction
Orbit
June 15, 2011
592

The book is the basis for the first season of The Expanse, a new original series premiering on Syfy in December 2015. Leviathan Wakes is James S. A. Corey's first novel in the epic series the Expanse, a modern masterwork of science fiction where humanity has colonized the solar system. Two hundred years after migrating into space, mankind is in turmoil. When a reluctant ship's captain and washed-up detective find themselves involved in the case of a missing girl, what they discover brings our solar system to the brink of civil war, and exposes the greatest conspiracy in human history.

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Halo: The Flood

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The reviews online for this book aren’t great, and frankly they’re right. The plot is predictable, and there isn’t much character development. Just lots and lots of blow-by-blow combat. It gets wearing after a while, and I found this book at bit of a slog. Not recommended.

The Flood Book Cover The Flood
Fiction
Del Rey
2003
341

Fleeing the destruction of the planet Reach, the Master Chief and a few human survivors crash-land on Halo, where they race to unravel its secrets in order to gain control of a great source of power before the alien occupiers do.

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Halo: The Fall of Reach

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As someone who doesn’t play computer games and has never played a Halo game, I find myself in the strange position of having read a Halo book. This book is the first in the chronological lineage, and explains the history of the Spartan program which produced the Master Chief. I decided to read this after accidentally watching a Halo mini-movie on Netflix with a sick baby, and deciding it wasn’t totally terrible.

The book is actually ok to my surprise. Its competently written, and on par with much of the other combat fiction I’ve read. It certainly doesn’t feel like its a tie in to a game. I would have liked this book to cover more of the moral issues around the back story to the Spartan program, but those were only briefly considered. Then again, I like a good shoot ’em up as much as the next guy and perhaps that would have been too boring. Overall I enjoyed it and think I might have to read more in this universe.

Halo: The Fall of Reach Book Cover Halo: The Fall of Reach
Eric Nylund
Fiction
St. Martin's Press
June 28, 2011
448

Before the Human-Covenant War engulfed Halo, the planet-colony Reach came under attack by the Covenant, and Earth's specially trained and augmented warriors, code-named SPARTANs, stood alone to fight for humanity's survival.

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The End of All Things

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I don’t read as much as I should these days, but one author I always make time for is John Scalzi. This is the next book in the Old Man’s War universe, and it continues from where The Human Division ended on a cliff hanger. So, let’s get that out of the way — ending a book on a cliff hanger is a dick move and John is a bad bad man. Then again I really enjoyed The Human Division, so I will probably forgive him.

I don’t think this book is as good as The Human Division, but its a solid book. I enjoyed reading it and it wasn’t a chore like some books this far into a universe can be (I’m looking at you, Asimov share cropped books). The conclusion to the story arc is sensible, and not something I would have predicted, so overall I’m going to put this book on my mental list of the very many non-terrible Scalzi books.

The End of All Things Book Cover The End of All Things
John Scalzi
Human-alien encounters
Pan Macmillan
August 13, 2015
378

Our fate is in their hands. . . The Colonial Union's Defence Force was formed to save humanity when aggressive alien species targeted our worlds. Now Lieutenant Harry Wilson has an urgent new mission, as a hostile universe becomes ever more dangerous. He must investigate a sinister group, which lurks in the darkness of space playing different factions against one another. They'll target both humans and aliens, and their motives are unfathomable.The Defence Force itself is weakening as its soldiers fall - without recruits to replace them. Relations with Earth have broken down and it will send no more troops, even as human colonies become increasingly vulnerable to alien attack.Lieutenant Wilson and Colonial Union diplomats must race to keep the peace, seek reconciliation with an enraged Earth, and maintain humanity's unity at all costs. If they don't, it will mean oblivion, extinction and the end of all things.

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Ancillary Justice

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I loved this book. The way the language works takes a little while to work out, but then blends into the background. The ideas here are new and interesting and I look forward to other work of Ann’s. Very impressed with this book.

Ancillary Justice Book Cover Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Fiction
Orbit Books
2013
386

The record-breaking debut novel that won every major science fiction award in 2014, Ancillary Justice is the story of a warship trapped in a human body and her search for revenge. Ann Leckie is the first author to win the Arthur C. Clarke, the Nebula and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in the same year. They made me kill thousands, but I only have one target now. The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' - one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship's AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people. The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed - but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale. But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her. 'ENGAGING AND PROVOCATIVE' SFX Magazine 'UNEXPECTED, COMPELLING AND VERY COOL' John Scalzi 'HIGHLY RECOMMENDED' Independent on Sunday 'MIND-BLOWING' io9.com 'THRILLING, MOVING AND AWE-INSPIRING' Guardian 'UTTER PERFECTION' The Book Smugglers 'ASTOUNDINGLY ASSURED AND GRACEFUL' Strange Horizons 'ESTABLISHES LECKIE AS AN HEIR TO BANKS' Elizabeth Bear

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The Human Division

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I originally read this as a series of short stories released on the kindle, but the paperback collation of those has been out for a while and deserved a read. These stories are classic Scalzi, and read well. If you like the Old Man’s War universe you will like this book. The chapters of the book are free standing because of how they were originally written, and that makes the book a bit disjointed. The cliff hanger at the end is also pretty annoying given the next book hasn’t been released.

So, an interesting experiment that perhaps isn’t perfect, but is well worth the read.

The Human Division Book Cover The Human Division
John Scalzi
Fiction
Tor Science Fiction
February 25, 2014
512

Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race. The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy. Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning...and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race. Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man's War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn't part of the digital serialization.

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Earthbound

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This is the third book in the Marsbound series. The Others have just turned off all electronics on Earth, and now we need to survive. One problem with this book is that it jumps straight into the action — I had to go back and re-read Marsbound and Starbound in order to understand what was happening in this book. That was ok because those two books are excellent, and I enjoyed re-reading them. In fact, those two are probably a little better than this one.

Overall Earthbound is pretty dark, and there isn’t a lot of hope presented — its just a series of scenes where the main characters attempt to deal with an all powerful adversary. Perhaps if the Others weren’t so powerful this would be a better book, because you just know that everyone is doomed. I also respect authors who are willing to kill off lead characters, but that happens a lot in this book, which sort of bothered me. Perhaps that’s what combat is really like though — people you have an attachment to just stop being there. There’s no warning or explanation.

The end of this book isn’t very satisfying. There better be a sequel or I’m going to be annoyed.

[isbn: 9781937007836]

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Starquake

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The sequel to the very excellent Dragon’s Egg, this book covers the continued interaction between the humans and the super cute Cheela. Unfortunately for the Cheela they suffer a major natural disaster which destroys society. I love an author who is willing to kill of characters when it progresses the story, and there is lots of that happening in this book. Really enjoyable.

[isbn: 0345312333]

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