The Captain’s Log – sea of rust (C. Robert Cargill)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This book has been getting praise from me crew and know I know why. First of all it has the most beautifully evocative cover:

And the story is unusual and compelling.  This is a post-apocalyptic story of what happens when the war between the humans and robots is over and the robots win.  The answer is extremely surprising and fascinating and complicated.

The protagonist, Brittle, is an awesome robot.  She is badass, self-serving, clever, and just plain fun.  She is a scavenger who finds parts that other robots need to survive.  But robot politics are getting in the way of her survival.  Plus there is the other robot that is out to destroy her.

But while it is wonderful to watch the world unfold through Brittle’s eyes and learn the history of the war through Brittle’s memories, it was the world-building that made this one rock.  I adored the types of robots, how they were used, what became of them, what they chose to do with the world when they were in control, etc.  The robot philosophy was interesting.  I also thought it was clever that sometimes Brittle seemed very human in tone and then I would be reminded by another element that she was a robot.  I believe that this was due to the type of model she was.

There aren’t too many details above because I think all of me crew should experience this one for themselves.  Just know that the writing is beautiful and it was time well spent.  I look forward to reading the author’s other work.

Check out me other crew members effusive reviews:

Sarah @ brainfluff – who introduced me to this one!  Thanks matey!

Lynn @ lynn’sbookblog

Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum

Now I normally post the blurb for the book here but I feel that this one gives the whole story away so I am not.

To visit the author’s website go to:

C. Robert Cargill – Author

To buy the book go to:

sea of rust – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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Captain’s Log – provenance (Ann Leckie)

Ahoy there mateys!  I have been a fan of Ann Leckie ever since I read her debut novel.  And what a doozy that one was.  It still be one of me all-time favourites ever.  In fact, I featured and gushed about this author in me Broadside No. 16 due to provenance coming out.  And now I finally read her newest book.  Hooray!!

I must start by saying that I loved it.  The characters, writing, plot, and world are so well done.  While the story about Ingray was fabulous and plot-twisty and stellar and just plain fun, what I really took from the book was not the story at all but the juxtaposition between the society of the Hwaeans in this book and the Radchaai in her imperial radch trilogy.  This was not me intention but, well, this aspect provided me myriad entertainments.

Ye see this novel is technically a standalone that is set in the same world as the trilogy.  I absolutely love what I would consider companion books that exist in a world but showcase other aspects and cultures of said world – like in me reviews of the Culture books or the Craftworld books.  So this was a mind-puzzle gift that I found fascinating.  If ye haven’t read the first book in the trilogy, ancillary justice, then the next section will likely not make sense to ye.  And I suggest ye read that novel before reading this one because of said paragraphs below.  So while there are no plot spoilers ahead, I will be doing some mild comparisons and random thoughts so if ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

  • I adored that the Radchaai were the protagonists of the trilogy and of course considered themselves the highest-cultured beings of the universe.  And in this book we showcase the Hwaean culture who believes they are superior.  Both cultures spend time pointing out how certain habits of other societies proved they were uncouth.  That being said, both cultures also like to see themselves as being open-minded, which I found to be hysterical.
  • For example there is a Radchaai diplomat in this novel.  Though a very minor character, the diplomat was used perfectly.  The author highlights the hypocrisy of the Radchaai in terms of the person appointed for the diplomatic job and also in the diplomat’s attitude towards her job.  Yet in certain situations the diplomat takes her tasks extremely seriously and is an important component to how the plot progresses and is resolved.  It was awesome!
  • We get to see multiple cultures in all the books.  Geck, Radchaai, Rrrrr, Omken, and others.  So very different and complex and fun.  In particular the use (or non-use) of terms of gender vary by culture and language and the complexities rock!  The mistakes are sometimes very funny and yet somehow also insightful into how gender is dealt with in this day and age.
  • I also adore the different types of justice systems portrayed and the intricacies in how twisted interplanetary law can be.  In Tyr Siilas there is a fine based system.  Hwae seems slightly more like the British judicial system.  Also how all of the cultures deal with the treaty with the Presger is portrayed so well in all of the novels.  Citizenship was never such an interesting conundrum.
  • I loved how the Radchaai have their memorial pins and the Hwae have their vestiges.  I have to admit that I am more partial to a memorial pin.  However the use of the vestiges in this book were central to the story and a hoot besides.  I kinda want the Radchaai pins and the tourist vestiges.
  • Speaking of tourism, Ann Leckie is awesome about writing about tourist places that are normal for the regular population but that I would totally visit.  From bridges in the trilogy to Eswae Parkland in this book, I am fascinating and wish I could visit.  I would sail the stars just to see the ruin glass hills.  If only . . .

Me writing skills are not good enough to get into more particulars and I certainly don’t want to give away spoilers.  But this novel has been lingering in me head and heart and thoughts.  I suggest if ye haven’t read Ann Leckie’s work then ye should witness for yerself the magic of her writing.

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

Following her record-breaking debut trilogy, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, returns with an enthralling new novel of power, theft, privilege and birthright.

A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ann Leckie – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

provenance – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – when the floods came (Clare Morrall)

Ahoy there mateys!  This was a random find in a local library that I just had to pick up.  Why?  Because I love post-apocalyptic stories that deal with climate change.  As the title suggests, this one deals with flooding.  The bonus was that it was written by a British writer.  I love to read other countries takes on climate change.

Side note:  This book was referenced as Cli-Fi in an article.  That term cracks me up!

The story centers around Roza Polanski and her family living in an abandoned building in Birmingham.  A virus has devastated the population and flooding has led to the ruination of most population centers.  There is a small government in Brighton.  Having been there, this fact entertained me to no end.  Technology is slowly failing due to lack of maintenance and the number of people is in steady decline due to virus related fertility issues.  The people that do exist are in the later stages of life and there are not many children or teens.

Roza’s parents are one of the few couples to remain fertile and had four children.  Her childhood is a seemingly happy one despite the family’s isolation.  The children are fed, loved, fairly healthy, educated, and safe.  Roza is set to be married soon and life seems to be headed towards a hopeful future.  However, one day a stranger named Aashay appears in their lives.  His presence brings a fresh perspective on the state of the world to the Polanskis and leads them away from their isolation.  But can they trust this stranger in their midst and retain their safety?

The world building was me favorite part of the novel.  I loved the images of riding bikes on abandoned highways, how the flooding cycles through, the family’s resourcefulness and intelligence, and above all the inter-family relationships.  It was wonderful to see a family who was supportive and cared for each other.

The plot was more problematic for me.  Aashay is charming and mysterious and not very forthcoming with his past.  The family is seemingly charmed by him and suspicious of him the whole time.  I got somewhat annoyed by the waffling which, to be fair, is a pet peeve of mine.  There is some suspense in the second half of the novel which was extremely fun but overall the later portion of the book along with the ending was unsatisfying.  Too many unanswered questions.

I was mostly confused by how an intelligent family could waffle so much about Aashay.  Can charm really go that far?  Well apparently the author wrote about that based on her own experiences.  An article from The Independent says “Take Aashay Kent, the novel’s ambiguous male lead and dead-ringer for Epstein’s Lucifer. ‘I became interested in the concept of charm,’ Morrall says, offering as an example one of her daughter’s ex-boyfriends. ‘One in particular was quite an intriguing man we were all charmed by.  Then you realise, bit by bit, there was quite a nasty underside to him. Then he comes bouncing back with a great big grin. The bizarre thing is you know what you see is not the reality, and yet the way this charisma works is you are drawn back into it.’”

Very interesting.  The novel was a solid read even if I had some problems with it.  Ultimately  I am glad I read this book and would read other works by the author.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

A taut, gripping novel set in the future, when the lives of a family existing on the margins of a dramatically changed society are upset by a mysterious stranger.

In a world prone to violent flooding, Britain, ravaged 20 years earlier by a deadly virus, has been largely cut off from the rest of the world. Survivors are few and far between, most of them infertile. Children, the only hope for the future, are a rare commodity.

For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?

Clare Morrall, author of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Astonishing Splashes of Colour, creates a startling vision of the future in a world not so very far from our own, and a thrilling story of suspense.

To visit the publisher’s author page go to:

Clare Morrall – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

when the floods came – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Captain’s Log – soft apocalypse (Will McIntosh)

Ahoy there me mateys!  When I last read a book by this author, I was reminded that I had never read his debut novel.  In fact, it was the only one I hadn’t read.  That oversight had to be remedied.  Apparently this novel was a finalist for both the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel.  So I finally snatched up a copy and loved it!

At the start of the novel, the United States is in the midst of an extreme economic depression with unemployment hovering at 40%.  To put this in perspective the highest period of unemployment to date in the U.S. was 25% in 1933.

At the start, the protagonist, Jasper, is an out of work, homeless sociologist who is traveling with his “tribe.”  The tribe is a random collection of folks who are helping each other out while waiting for society to improve.  And for Jasper and certain members of his tribe, life does seem to get better in small increments.  But what happens when the apocalypse doesn’t arrive in one large explosion but rather in small seemingly incremental changes?

Well ye get this delight of a book.  It takes place over 10 years.  We follow Jasper and through his eyes watch the world slowly crumble.  Bad things happen.  People adapt.  Jasper’s life improves.  More bad things happen.  Jasper’s life gets worse. There is action in this book but it is a slow burn of overall destruction.

While watching the consequences of the world slowly imploding, ye get to see Jasper’s relationships and personality evolve and his ideas on love and survival change.  This book takes place mostly in and around the environs of Savannah.  The author certainly seemed extremely familiar with the area.  I adored the format, the writing, the characters, and well, everything.

As usual if ye haven’t read anything by the author, I suggest ye hoist those sails and get moving!

Side note:  While researching fer this blog, I discovered that Mr. McIntosh had a book come out in June and has another coming out in October!  Arrrrr!!!  I must get me hands on the booty!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Will McIntosh – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

soft apocalypse – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

burning midnight (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

hitchers (Dead Men Tell No Tales)

faller (On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)

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)