The Captain’s Log – agent to the stars (John Scalzi)

Ahoy there mateys!  Members of me crew may remember that I have a love for John Scalzi as he was featured in Broadside No. 5, tidings from the crew fer the dispatcher, and on the horizon fer the miniatures.  As I work me way through all things Scalzi, I realized I had never read his first written novel.

His author’s note talks about how this book became published and states:

“It began in 1997 as my “practice novel” – that is to say, the novel I wrote to see if I could write a novel . . . I had no intention of ever selling it or ever really doing anything with it.”

Luckily for me he did eventually publish it.  After one particularly rough day at sea, I decided that I needed a pick-me-up.  So I picked up this novel (hardy har har!)  It turned out to be the right choice fer me mood.  Fer a “practice” novel, it was pretty darn good.

The novel concerns humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial lifeforms.  The aliens come to Earth looking to make friends.  The only problem is that they are funny looking and smell real bad.  The aliens are certainly not yer stereotypical little green men.  So what better person to contact than a Hollywood agent to help spin their introduction to our world?  Eventually the agency hands the task to junior agent Thomas Stein who has just had the best day in his career.  It is his last best day for quite some time . . .

This first novel certainly contains Scalzi’s brand of zany humor, dialogue, and characters.  While I like the main character’s ingenuity and caring, I also like the secondary characters.  As usual there are strong and powerful women.  Hooray!  The is certainly nothing earth-shattering about this one but it is super enjoyable and while silly still has moments that make ye think.

I don’t suggest this as the first Scalzi book to be picked up by newcomers but fer those already established Scalzi fans, I certain recommend going back to this beginning.

Side note: I like the fun cover design!

The blurb on the back has this to say about the book:

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Scalzi – Author

To buy the novel go to:

agent to the stars – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – robopocalypse (Daniel H. Wilson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This novel was on me radar forever and finally got around to reading it.  While I did enjoy many parts of the novel, overall it was just an okay read for me.  Mostly I found myself comparing it to other robot related novels and finding it slightly lacking.

This story involves the history of the robot war against the humans run by an AI named Archos.  The story is told by a survivor of the robot war,  Cormac, who finds surveillance footage left behind by Archos and relates the history of the war through journals, newsfeeds, and other media.

Now to be fair there are many things about the novel that I liked:

  • This story is set just far enough in the future that the start of the robot war seems plausible.  The technology advances could happen.  For example we already have self-driving cars.  Such technology turning on us was fun.
  • There were some awesome characters that I really cheered for.  In particular I loved the husband and wife team of Dawn and Marcus in New York City, Paul in Afghanistan, and Mathilda Perez.
  • The toy scene was creepy.
  • There are a diverse bunch of characters and scenery.
  • I really enjoyed how the author tied the stories of the seemingly unrelated different humans together.

Some things I didn’t like:

  • Though the story was supposed to be told from multiple perspectives, the filter of Cormac made many of the segments seem flat and/or unbelievable.  Cormac commentated on issues and added his own thoughts on the other characters feelings and experiences.  I wanted more of the segments to feel like first-person encounters.
  • Archos was a very odd bad guy.  I mean I know AI are supposed to be way smarter than humans but the computer seemed to make stupid and irrational choices.  Humans could have been wiped out fairly quickly and weren’t.
  • There were a lot of unanswered questions about certain situations.  The robots relationship with nature for example.
  • Also there are several human story lines with no resolutions.  As a couple of those were my more favorite characters, I was grumpy.
  • How Archos is taken down.  Sigh.

Now I did learn that there is a second novel that perhaps would answer some of the outstanding questions I have.  I am just not sure if I will read it yet.

Another member of me crew just reviewed this novel.  Check out her review:

Sarah @ thecritiquingchemist

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

They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies … Now they’re coming for you. When the Robot War ignites humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Daniel H. Wilson – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

robopocalypse – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – after atlas (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  This is the companion novel to the wonderful sci-fi novel planetfall which continues to linger in me thoughts as being a super pleasurable previous read.  As a companion novel, the books can be read in any order even though personally I am glad I read planetfall first.  Planetfall was the story of  a human colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  After atlas is a sci-fi murder mystery novel set on Earth forty years after Atlas has left the planet.

The story involves Carlos who works for one of the big corporations on Earth.  When he was an infant, his mother left him behind on Earth when she traveled on the Atlas.  Forty years later he is a top level detective to the Ministry of Justice.  There is just one catch – he was sold to them years before as an indentured slave who has to work off his debt before he is free.  But everything has a price and adds to his debt.  They control him and he won’t work off his debt until he is at least 80, or maybe longer . . .

So when his boss at the Ministry arrives in his apartment with a new job assignment with the details off the record, he realizes something is different.  There has been another murder, only this time he knows the victim.  Can he solve the crime, avoid the politics, and kept his personal feelings under control?  There may be no real choice as the clock is ticking, the debt is growing, and all he wants is freedom.

Again, Emma Newman creates another fascinating main character whose personality and circumstances are a delight.  The novel evolves in such a way that ye follow the unfolding investigation while slowly learning the details of Carlos’ life and his past relationships.  Again the tech in the novel like the APA’s are richly drawn and central to the story.  While Carlos is the main character, through him ye get to known the side characters who are all well drawn out.  Some of the murder mystery clues were guessable but how she resolved the story overall was not.

In any case this was another awesome effort by Ms. Newman and I truly hope there is another story set in this world.  Do pick up either one of the Planetfall books and treat yerself to a delightful story.

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

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Carly @ Bookaneer

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

Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

after atlas – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

brother’s ruin (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

planetfall (Sailing to the Stars)

The Captain’s Log – the last day of captain lincoln (EXO Books)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Many of me crew had been reviewing this one with high praise.  So when the author offered me a review copy for perusal of course I wanted to experience what all the fuss was about.

This be a fairly short story at 133 pages. Yet those pages resonated beyond their size.  The premise is that Captain Lincoln aboard the spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal is scheduled for death upon his 80th birthday – the tradition for everyone who reaches that age aboard the ship.  And today is his last day . . .

Thus the reader follows along to witness what Captain Lincoln experiences that day and how he processes his emotions of his impending end  And by the time ye come to that end, for this reader at least, I was sad to see him go.

And that was the true appeal of this work.  It is short and yet compelling; poignant yet uplifting; it was worth the read.  I found meself fascinated by the concepts of life aboard the ship (Arrrr!) where there is no disease and 80 is still youthful.  As humans make their long way to Earth 2.0, how do they reconcile their past with the possibilities of the future?

This will offer ye glimpses of what humans’ future capacity could be.  The only small gripes for me were the quotes, which while appropriate, were many and sometimes pulled me from the story and the artwork which was not to me taste.  But the story was enjoyable and is one that I can recommend.

To read some of me (many) other crew members reviews check out:

So lastly . . .

Thank ye EXO Books!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Captain Lincoln’s last day is the hardest day of his life.

An old, onetime Captain of the interstellar spaceship USNAS Hope Eternal, Lincoln always knew that this day would come. For just as birthdays are carefully planned, so are deaths. And although he must reckon with his fate, this is not a somber story. It is a tale of love and sacrifice, told in the context of the most advanced civilization ever to exist—a society that has taken to the stars in an effort to save all that is best in humanity.

Follow Lincoln through his internal struggles, his joy in having lived, and his journey to peace.

The End is just the beginning.

To visit the author’s website go to:

EXO Books – Author

To buy the book go to:

the last day of captain lincoln – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – shipscat collection (Mercedes Lackey)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So after writing me second reflections of hunter, I was in the mood for some more of Mercedes Lackey’s work.  So I decided to buy and read one of her short story collections that I have had me eye on for a long time.  The topic – intelligent cats in space!  Of course, I kinda have a thing for ships and cats and ship cats most of all.  Yup exactly what I was in the mood for.

The collection contains four short stories about human, Dick White, and his friend the telepathic ship cat named Skitty.  I loved that humans had engineered intelligent cats for pest control and partnership and yet they still were cats . . . unpredictable, stubborn, choosy, and lovable.  Spoiled too.

These stories are very fluffy and somewhat predictable but I absolutely adored them all.  As usual Lackey’s world-building and characters are fun.  The only major complaint I have is that I would like a full length novel about the further adventures of Skitty and White.  The stories went by too quickly.  Super short collection but worth me coin.   Arrrrrr!

Side note: Isn’t the space cat picture awesome?  Check out the website where I found it . . .

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

This is a collection of the four “Shipscat” stories: SKitty; A Tail of Two SKittys; SCat; and A Better Mousetrap.

These stories tell the adventures of Dick White, cat handler for the space ship Brightwing, and the cats he is supposed to be handling. Of course, given that he’s working with cats, there is frequently the question of who is “handling” whom.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Mercedes Lackey – Author

To buy the novel visit:

shipscat collection – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

Broadside No. 8

hunter (Second Reflections – Fantasy)

The Captain’s Log – dark matter (Blake Crouch)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This novel has been floating around everywhere, so I finally gave into the hype and read this sci-fi thriller.

Basically it is the story of a man named Jason who is attacked and wakes up in a life that shows what could have happened to him if he had picked another path . . . one with no son or wife but with academic / career success.  How did this happen?  Better yet how can he get his old life back?

For someone who had read lots of multi-universe books, the plot wasn’t mind-blowing.  It was, however, engaging, fast-paced and fun.  The novel’s best feature is in the details.  I loved how Jason goes about trying to reclaim his life.  The different universes were cool and the set-up to get to them was entertaining.

How the ending evolved was surprising.  There was a sharp turn of a plot twist that I would have preferred hadn’t happened.  It made sense once the author tells us why it happened and so I enjoyed the conclusion of the story.  I would have liked to go down the other path not chosen.

However it was an extremely enjoyable sci-fi read with some truly memorable events that I can’t spoil for ye.  So take the path where ye pick this book up and enjoy . . .

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

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Blake Crouch – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

dark matter – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – kings of the wilderness (M.J.R. Parr)

Ahoy there me mateys!  We continue our tale from yesterday of:

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

This is a rather large undertaking at 436 pages, but I devoured it in two days.  Well, perhaps “devoured” is not the right word.  Savored, absorbed, relished . . . well whatever the description, I highly enjoyed this debut novel.

It is not your traditional sci-fi novel.  It is rather slow-burning and builds the world gradually with lots of descriptive passages intertwined with bursts of action.  I rather liked that structure was a slowly unlocking puzzle.  Most of this novel sees the characters traveling through and around a forest.  Ye don’t really get any major explanations until after the 60% mark.  And when ye do, it takes the form of a campfire story.

Now normally that kinda thing would drive me nuts but for some reason it just worked an’ fit me mood.  The author states that it is an adventurous dystopian sci-fi with elements of horror.  Yes, to dystopian sci-fi.  Yes, that it has characters on an adventure.  I can also see how other people would see elements of horror in the creatures of the world.  I wasn’t afeared of them so much, but they are certainly used effectively to make the story very suspenseful at times.  I found the mix of “normal” animals like deer and weirder ones like shamroths to be one of me favorite things.  Oh, and the weather.  I found the setting’s harsh weather to be appealing and I liked readin’ about it.  Again something that would normally get old but didn’t in this version.

I particularly loved the beginning of the novel and how both protagonists are introduced.  The two main characters are Leo Janus and Luther Kelly.  I love how their stories unfold and it was fascinating to see how both scalawags managed to get themselves out of scrapes over and over again.  Though some of this is a little unbelievable and damn lucky, I was still entertained.

The flaws of the novel would likely be the pacing for some, the descriptiveness for others, and the lack of female perspectives.  Now do not get me wrong, strong females exist in minor roles in this novel but the story is still told through the eyes of the two men.  Two very manly men in terms of their survival skills and abilities.  But this Captain does not mind readin’ from the male perspective and Leo especially floated me boat.  I enjoyed the side characters, most of the political wrangling, and even the cliff hanger of an ending.  Sheesh!

The novel might not be to yer taste but if yer a sci-fi lover then ye should at least give it a chance.  Ye may end up liking it as much as I did.

The conclusion of this salty yarn is on the brink of tomorrow . . .

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The volatile moon of Scion is beset by spectacular eclipses, violent storms and powerful oceanic shifts. For those crushed beneath the technological might of the Erodyian Empire, these are merely the backdrop to a life of brutal hardship.

The kingdom of Symeria is collapsing, strangled in the all-powerful grip of the empire’s enigmatic – and inhuman – dictator. Commanding a platoon of seasoned rangers, disgraced Lieutenant Leo Janus is dispatched to Erodyia’s untamed jungle on a mysterious reconnaissance mission.

But a young refugee named Luther Kelly also wanders this hostile wilderness, trying to unravel secrets more personal. As their paths threaten to collide, both men face dangers and revelations far greater than either could have imagined…

To visit the author’s website go to:

M.J.R. Parr – Author

To buy the e-book go to:

kings of the wilderness – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

To see part one of how I got this novel from the author in exchange for me honest review go to:

Curiosities of the Deep