Abandon Ship – we are legion we are bob (Dennis E. Taylor)

It is time to abandon ship me mateys!  This one was recommended by me first mate because he loved it.  Of course he did warn me that there was a 50/50 shot that I wouldn’t like it.

I made it to the 53% mark before calling it quits.  To be fair the beginning of the novel was wonderful.  This is the story of a dude named Bob who signs up for a cryogenics program, dies, and wakes up in the future as an artificial intelligence computer program.

The circumstances that Bob finds himself in, the politics of the world, how Bob deals with it, and the beginning of Bob’s exploration of the universe were delightful.  Bob is a bit of a nerd to put it mildly.  His quirky personality made the beginning of the novel fly by.

The side characters like Bob’s AI digital personal assistant, Guppy and the other “Bobs” are humorous.  There are deeper concepts woven throughout concerning identity, personality, technology, and space exploration.  The mix of cool technology and the silliness of Bob were wonderful.

The problem for me was that eventually, it was less about Bob exploring his new roles in life and more about determining the future.  I got bored.  There are only so many descriptions of new planets, mining, and such that I could take.  It began to feel repetitive.  There began to be gaps in time where we skipped the process of Bob figuring things out and jumped to the problem having being mostly solved.  I get that Bob’s AI is way beyond me brain skills but I just wasn’t absorbed in the story.  So I gave up.  Of course the first mate disagrees with me . . .

From the First Mate:

One of my absolute favorite “cancelled too soon” t.v. series was a show from 1999 called “Now and Again.” The premise of the show was that an ad executive is accidentally killed in the subway, his brain is stolen by the government, and then a scientist puts that brain into an artificial body for use as a spy/assassin/whatever.  What the scientist and the government didn’t count on was that a lazy ad executive’s personality is completely at odds with what they ultimately wanted to do with the artificial body.  And that conflict was really the driving force of the show.  The ad executive wanted to get away and be with his family again, while the scientist and the government wanted him to train and be a machine.

“We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” plays with the same trope (a normalish person is flung into a military science project against his will) but spins it in completely the opposite direction.  Bob is simply too competent a programmer to be bound by the controls that the military has placed on him, and much of the fun of the first half of the book is watching him figure out ways to do what he wants instead of what is expected of him.  And the first half of the book is fantastic.  Dennis E. Taylor covers some quality philosophical ground without dragging the plot to a halt.  We’re given an amazingly depressing in its plausibility backstory of the theocratic government of the future.  Some quality tension in a ticking clock scenario to get Bob in space. There’s even a very compelling discussion of why 3D printers ultimately take the sci-fi place of nanotechnology in this world.  And skiffy references galore.  So many fun references.

While I was reading the first half of the book, I was thinking “this is the most fun I’ve had with a sci-fi book in forever.” I was also pondering, “this is so fun, I wonder if I should recommend this to the Captain.”

Unfortunately, for me, the second half of the book doesn’t quite live up to the first half.  Which is a shame, as the second half of the book is where the “We Are Legion” aspect really takes off.  The conceptual aspect of a multiplicity of Bobs is very interesting and Taylor does a very good job of differentiating the various Bobs.  It’s just, well, the uses to which he puts them were less than interesting to me.  Indeed, one storyline that involves a primitive civilization seems to be little more than a way of keeping one of the Bobs sidelined from the other storylines.  Another gets bogged down in a very realistic bureaucratic negotiation situation that, while well written, didn’t make me smile in the ways that the first half of the book did.  Still enjoyable, just a step down from earlier.

I suppose the major difference between the first and second half of the book is that the second half didn’t feel as though Bob et. al. was staying ahead of anyone.  Sure, they planned and prepared for various scenarios (some which worked out and others which did not), but generally it was all very reactive.  The first half of the book was full of Bob outsmarting controls and limits using skills that the military didn’t expect him to have.  Perhaps that means that the first half is pure nerd fantasy, while the second half is more of a variant on hard sci-fi in space.

In some ways, “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)” feels like it fits in with the work of early Heinlein or Scalzi.  Sci-fi adventurism with some hard sci-fi trappings.  If that’s in your wheelhouse, it’s well worth a look.  Me?  I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel later this year.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Dennis E. Taylor – Author

To buy the novel go to:

we are legion (we are bob) – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the vagrant (Peter Newman)

Ahoy there me mateys!

I have to say that while this was an interesting read, it was definitely unusual.  To give you an idea – the main characters are a mute, a baby, and a goat.  Aye mateys.  Ye read that right.  And if that weren’t enough, there also be a magical sword with an eyeball.  Cool, huh?

The story involves a world where there has been a breach and the demons are getting in and trying to take over.  Wherever the demons go, corruption ensues. I loved the weird half-breeds and other unsavories that demon taint makes.  In fact most of the demon related details were awesome.

The chapters alternate between the present where we follow the mute, i.e. the Vagrant, on his quest to take the magic sword to the Shining City and then chapters that go back eight years in the past to how the present came to be.  And of course converge nicely.

I actually loved both the Vagrant and the goat.  I mean, the goat was actually one of the highlights of the novel.  Baby was different but not to me taste overall.  I liked the idea of the baby more as a prop then as a character.

Having a character that was mute was actually fascinating.  I thought the author did an excellent job making the Vagrant communicate.  Of course, the Vagrant does run into lots of talking folk along the way and picks up some for a time along his travels.  Also this is not the type of book where ye get to see into the main characters thoughts.  So everything ye learn is basically through dialogue and action.  Works astonishingly well.

So why didn’t I love it?  Well, I think overall it was the very last leg of the journey into the Shining City that seemed lackluster as well as the City itself.  It fit the story and the characters.  It just didn’t thrill me.  I think that overall I would have preferred this to be a standalone and not a trilogy.  While I will not be reading any more of the series, this was a good read and I am glad I read it.  Especially because of the goat.

Check out another of me crew, Brad’s, review here.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Newman – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the vagrant – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Sailing to the Stars – planetfall (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  Me last review was of this author’s novel brother’s ruin which was extremely enjoyable but an oh so very very different fantasy read.  I loved that one immensely which made me immediately pick up this recently purchased novel.  I am extremely glad I did.

This sci-fi novel is the story of a colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  The settlers came chasing a dream of a woman named Lee Suh-Mi, known as the Pathfinder.  Suh-Mi had visions of an unknown society calling to humanity.  The settlers make planetfall and establish new lives working towards a purpose.  Little does the colony know that it is living a lie – one that Renata Ghali, Suh-Mi’s best friend, helps perpetuate.  When a stranger arrives at the colony, his presence threatens to spill old secrets.  At what cost?

This story is told from the point of view of Renata, also known as Ren.  Part mystery, part adventure, and part character study, this novel was emotionally compelling and fascinating.  While Ren is intelligent and capable, she has personal demons to fight.  I continually seemed to float between curiosity, pity, and hopefulness about Ren’s situation.  While slow-burning in many ways, I was always fully engrossed in the story and desperately wanting to find out more details and what happens next.

I loved the world building and technology.  From the use of 3D printers, to how the homes were built, the structure of society, and the mysterious God’s City, this novel was full of wonderful details.  I will certainly be reading more of this author’s work.  Ye should too.

Side note: there is a companion novel out.  Arrrrr!

Check out some reviews of this novel from members of me crew:

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Brad @ Goodreads

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

planetfall – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – brother’s ruin (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

brother’s ruin (Emma Newman)

Title: brother’s ruin

Author: Emma Newman

Publisher: Macmillian-Tor/Forge

Publication Date: TODAY!!!! (paperback/e-book)

ISBN: 9780765393951

Source: NetGalley

This novella was quick-paced, a fast read, and fun.  The story is set in 1850s Great Britain which was win number one.  Win number two was the protagonist, Charlotte Gunn – intelligent, feisty, and loving (me favorite type).  Win number three was the magical society set up in this book.

Charlotte is a woman who wants normal things like marrying her fiance and having a family.  She also wants slightly more challenging modern things like continuing to earn her own income from her illustrations and keeping her male publishing pseudonym unknown.   But most challenging off all is keeping her magic talent a secret.  If it is found out, the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts will claim her and her dreams of the future will be forfeit.

Keeping her magic a secret is not so easy.  Charlotte has the guilt of not joining the Society to give her parents and brother a better life as well as the challenge of holding her magic in check and not going “Wild.”  However events soon spiral out of control and Charlotte has to decide whether her dreams or her realities will determine her choices.

This novella is super short at 192 pages and felt more like a set-up or prequel to a longer novel.  I loved it and wanted more.  Charlotte’s family members were loving, struggled, and were realistic in many of their reactions to the occurring events.  The magic of the society is introduced but ye don’t get all the bells and whistles of how it works or what it can do . . . yet.  The plot was predictable at a few points but I didn’t care.

The novella had a great ending, left lots of questions to be explored, and had tantalizing hints of what may happen next.  Whether the next installment be a novella or (hopefully) a longer novel – sign me up!

Side note: This author sounded familiar because I had just purchased her other novel planetfall, a sci-fi, to read!  Stay tuned for that review in the next log post.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge!

Additional side note: the blurb is rather spoiler-y and misleading.  Be forewarned and read at yer own peril!

Netgalley has this to say about the novel:

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Archie’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Archie Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. However, maintaining the charade will mean masquerading as Archie’s assistant, and delaying or destroying her own plans for marriage.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

brother’s ruin – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Ports that be Plundered – a Swag Tally

Ahoy there mateys.  Now yesterday’s log led me to revisiting a very old list of ports that this pirate wanted to plunder.  So I thought that today I would do a tally to see what swag I managed to snag and what other ports remain to be discovered.  So there be 20 ports total . . .

Ports Visited (links to me reviews):

  1. the testing trilogy (Joelle Charbonneau) – this be featured in me second 3 Bells trilogy showcase: the testing (Book 1), independent study (Book 2), and graduation day (Book 3)
  2. need (Joelle Charbonneau)
  3. the rising (Ian Tregillis, a sequel to the mechanical)
  4. saturn run (John Sandford and Ctein)
  5. the girl with the ghost eyes (M. H. Boroson)
  6. soundless (Richelle Mead)
  7. front lines (Michael Grant)
  8. truthwitch (Susan Dennard)
  9. illuminae (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)
  10. walk on earth a stranger (Rae Carson)
  11. the masked truth (Kelley Armstrong)
  12. a thousand nights (E.K. Johnston)

Ports Still Ripe for Plundering (links to Goodreads):

  1. the storm (Virginia Bergin, a sequel to H2O)
  2. empire ascendant (Kameron Hurley, sequel to the mirror empire)
  3. valour (John Gwynne, sequel to malice)
  4. ruin (John Gwynne, sequel to valour)
  5. forget tomorrow (Pintip Dunn)
  6. once again (Cameron Dokey and Liz Braswell)

So 14 out of 20 is not awful.  I am not sure if or when I will get to the remaining 6.  None of them currently strike me fancy.  If any crew members want to link to their reviews of any of the 20, I would be delighted to read them.  As for the 14, reading them has added these other ports to the list that never can be tamed:

More Ports to Plunder (links to Goodreads):

  1. the liberation (Ian Tregillis, a sequel to the rising)
  2. silver stars (Michael Grant, a sequel to front lines)
  3. windwitch (Susan Dennard, a sequel to truthwitch)
  4. like a river glorious (Rae Carson, sequel to walk on earth a stranger)
  5. missing (Kelley Armstrong)
  6. spindle (E.K. Johnston, a companion to a thousand nights)

So if ye made it this far, I am off to adventure and perhaps read another book.  Always remember:

Q: Why is it so hard for pirates to learn to read?

A: Because they spend months and months at C.

Hardy Har Har!

x The Captain

Curiosities of the Deep – ride a mule (M.H. Boroson)

Ahoy there mateys!  For those new to me crew, this be a category for those novels whose stories of acquisition be strange and unusual – like the time someone commandeered me 12 pages!  There be a tale to tell on how I got me grubby mitts on this one . . .

Ye see this short story is not available to just any scalawag with a hankerin’.  It is given to only those few who belong to a secret society of book lovers.  And how does one join this society and get to add this treasure to their tally of booty?  Well sit back me hearty (and grab that grog), for this tale twists and turns, and let me tell ye . . .

So a long while back, at nearly the start of keeping this here log, a curious thing happened.  Ye see I be always on the lookout fer treasure as all Captains be.  So every time I be back in port, I follow hints and whispers to find the shady places, full of shady characters, wherein the clues and possibilities for plunder might be found.

In one such adventure, after evading local authorities, brandishing me cutlass at the cur who thought I could be followed, and stopping by the local inn for some rum, I ended up in . . . a local bookstore.  Egads!  What hints there be of riches and exciting locales all ripe fer plunderin’.  Being the smart Captain that I be, I quickly took notice of interesting ports for plunder.  Number 9 on said list be this gem:

the girl with the ghost eyes (M.H. Boroson)

And what a lovely one this is.  This author’s debut novel is a historical fiction fantasy set in Chinatown of San Francisco in 1898.  It is expertly written, in my opinion, and full of surprises – including the ending.  Quite frankly, I adored it.  The author hinted that more of the glorious tales of Li-lin might exist.  So through every storm, every port, every glass of grog, I kept me eye out and me ears to the wind to catch a glimpse of me elusive prey . . .

And then behold, a wink here and a nudge there lead me to Goodreads, an oft frequented haunt, wherein a connection was made with Raquel who be an interestin’ lass who seems to love both cats and books.  With those interests, she be a source I could trust, a rare find indeed.  So with her set of coordinates, I set sail for me next part of the adventure.

And what did I find there but a message in a bottle from the master manipulator himself . . . the author, M.H. Boroson!  The salty cad.  The trickster led me from the source that started this search, the girl with the ghost eyes, to a map written in his own log, wherein if ye are lucky ye might find his master plans.  Now as members of me crew, I will share the secret of how to find the story story.  Spread the word to other members of the crew.

What!  Ye lazy scurvy dogs!  Too full of grog and victuals and the pleasures of port to move.  Arrrrrgh!  Fine.  For those of ye who cannot read so good, like One-Eyed Jack . . .

That M.H. Boroson (good name for a ship rather!) is crafty and wants more folk to read his debut novel.  So like any good sailor, he knows ye need the best bait.  So basically, if ye read his debut novel and post a review (for the good or evil) on his book’s Amazon’s log page, then he will send ye the delight that is the short story.

Now me being the crafty sort, I had already posted me review of the novel.  But I sent him a scroll and we came to an accord.  His return scroll stated:

Ahoy, Captain! Attacht be a copy o’ RIDE A MULE. Yer review be appreciated, arr!

So as part of the Code and in terms with the accord, here be the conclusion to this awesome adventure . . .

If it wasn’t made clear before, this Captain adored this short story.  It immediately took me back to the world of Li-lin and Chinatown.  I could read a million more brief snippets of her adventures while waiting on M.H. Boroson to finish the next novel so I can challenge him to a friendly duel and commandeer it.  While only 21 pages long, the story contains elements of the world-building that made the novel so wonderful.  Favorite characters like Mr. Yanqiu and Mr. Pu make an appearance.  It was short and sweet and left me wanting more.   If ye love Daoism, kung fu, monsters, magic, love, and Chinese folklore then ye should read this.

Now get out there and read me matey’s debut novel and join the secret society that loved it and gets to read this short story.  Savvy?

Amazon has this to say about the girl with the ghost eyes:

It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes–the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father — and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

To visit the author’s website go to:

M.H. Boroson – Author

To buy his first novel visit:

the girl with the ghost eyes – Book

To add the short story treasure to yer Goodreads list visit:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Me Previous Curiosities of the Deep:

Patrick, Den – the boy with the porcelain blade – Part One (Fantasy)

Patrick, Den – the boy with the porcelain blade – Part Two (Fantasy)

Parr, M.J.R. – kings of the wilderness – the 700th arc book one (Sci-Fi)

Auxier, Jonathan – the night gardener (Young Adult Fantasy)

On the Horizon – the bone witch (Rin Chupeco)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the bone witch (Rin Chupeco)

Title: the bone witch

Author: Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 978-1492635826

Source: NetGalley

This novel be pure magic.  I read it in one sitting and fell in love with the author’s writing and the world she created.  The main character, Tea, learns that she is a bone witch when she instinctively raises her brother from the dead in her grief.  Because of the rarity of her powers and the fact that bone witches be hated and feared, Tea leaves her family to train and learn to control her powers.

The novel is told from two perspectives – Tea in the past and a bard in the present.  I loved the juxtaposition of witnessing Tea’s thoughts about training and the bard’s views of what she looks like to an “outsider” in her full strength and poise.

This novel is slow paced but filled with glorious details.  It was the details that made the world and story come vividly to life.  Things like the descriptions of magic woven into clothing, the elaborate training of the witches (known as asha). the different ethnicities of people, or even types food, made me feel that the author was describing a real place.  Or at least a place well known to her.

Add in fantastical creatures called the daeva and I was mesmerized.  What are daeva?  Well according to the author’s website they are “Deadly creatures that roam the land . . . To defeat these beasts, one must find and rip their bezoar from their bodies – although such an action is only a temporary respite, as they are capable of resurrection.”  They are all different shapes and sizes.  How Tea deals with these monsters is at the heart of the story and one of the main reasons I loved it.

This book was a lovely set-up.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the series when it comes out and while impatiently waiting, I will try and get me grubby mitts on her debut novel, the girl from the well.

Side note: the author’s about me page is awesome!  In fact, I rather enjoyed pursuing the whole site.  Check it out.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire!

Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Rin Chupeco – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the bone witch – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Keep a Weathered Eye Out for Sourcebook Fire’s Other Offerings Like:

labyrinth lost (Zoraida Cordova)