The Captain’s Log – all systems red (Martha Wells)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be the first read in me April BookBum Club Challenge!

This sci-fi novella caught me eye because one of me favourite authors, Ann Leckie, talked about it in one of her blog posts.  She states, “This is volume 1 of the Murderbot Diaries, and I suspect a certain percentage of my readers don’t need to hear anything more. Go, purchase, download! You will enjoy this.”  Ummm yes I did enjoy this.  In fact, I loved it!  It is nominated for the 2018 Best Novella Hugo Award (with some amazing others) as well as these other awards:

Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018), Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (2017), ALA Alex Award (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science Fiction (2017)

Need anymore convincing? Ye may see that I have not discussed plot, character, or anything else about this novel.  I went into it blind and recommend this.  For those that must know more, the blurb be below.  It does not do this justice.  This be basically a perfect read.  I have read four out of the six novellas nominated for the Hugo and so far this might be me favourite.

I had heard of Martha Wells before but never read any of her work.  Shame on me.  I be glad to have remedied this.  The next 3 novellas in the series are all scheduled to come out this year.  Arrrrr!!  I will be reading them all.  I only wish that I would have read this sooner.

Much thanks to the BookBum Club for giving me the incentive to read this delightful “short and sweet” novella (144 pgs.).  Day one – challenge complete!  Next up: call it courage.  Check out that review tomorrow!

Side note: Tor has published 5 of the 6 novellas up for Best Novella this year!  Good job Tor.  Keep up the good work!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Martha Wells – Author

To buy the book go to:

all systems red – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous BookBum Club Monthly Reviews

March 2018 – “And the award goes to – pick a book that has won an award!”

 

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Captain’s Log – before mars (Emma Newman)

Ahoy there mateys!  This is the second 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 them in publishing order.  Planetfall showed the story of  a human colony on a remote alien planet far far from Earth.  Book two, after atlas, is a sci-fi murder mystery novel set on Earth forty years after Atlas has left the planet.

This third installment involves Anna Kubrick, a geologist by trade and artist by hobby.  She has been sent to Mars by her employers primarily because of her art.  Her billionaire boss, who owns all rights to Mars, wants her to be the first person to paint the scenery of Mars while there so that it can sell to the highest bidder back home.  When Anna gets to Mars, she finds surprising hostility from some of the crew members.  Matters are further confused when she finds a note of warning in her room that appears to be written in her own hand!  Is she going crazy or is there something more sinister going on?

Anna is a conflicted figure who cannot decide if she wants to be on Mars or back home with her family.  She feels both fake and smothered from society’s expectations.  Her background makes her fear that she might be headed towards mental breakdown.  And she is suffering from post-natal syndrome.  Reading about her troubles as an overlay on top of the mysterious situation from Mars was hard at times.  Anna is a very sympathetic character and also a very strong one.

Mental health is a hard issue and from outside it seems a bit easy to see some of the problems on Mars.  The reader could guess at some of the problems and their corresponding solutions.  But Anna’s genuine confusion and self-doubt is real.  Did she make the right choices?  Is her life a lie?  Is she a useless mother?  Why isn’t she like everyone else?

Like the other two books, this is a very character-driven story.  As I had guessed a lot of the mystery, I found the ending to be less than exciting even though I didn’t know any of the finer details.  But the story is compelling, the characterization is fantastic, and the world-building as great as ever.

I believe there is going to be another story set in this world in 2019.  While waiting, do pick up any of the Planetfall books and treat yerself to a delightful story.

Me matey, sarah @ theillustratedpage, has an awesome interview with the author that can be found here!

Also check out another review of this novel from me crew:

Kate @ forwinternights

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

After months of travel, Anna Kubrick finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist-in-residence. Already she feels like she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth–and she’ll be on Mars for over a year. Throwing herself into her work, she tries her best to fit in with the team.

But in her new room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note written in her own handwriting, warning her not to trust the colony psychologist. A note she can’t remember writing. She unpacks her wedding ring, only to find it has been replaced by a fake.

Finding a footprint in a place the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that her assignment isn’t as simple as she was led to believe. Is she caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy, or is she actually losing her mind? Regardless of what horrors she might discover, or what they might do to her sanity, Anna has find the truth before her own mind destroys her.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Emma Newman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

before mars – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

brother’s ruin – book 1 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

weaver’s lament – book 2 (On the Horizon – Fantasy eArc)

planetfall – book 1 (Sailing to the Stars)

after atlas – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – the night masquerade (Nnedi Okorafor)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I was mesmerized by books one and two of the Binti series and was happy to finally get me hands on the third and last book.  If ye haven’t read the first book then ye might want to skip this post and go read me review of that one.  If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

This novella was another stunning read in the series.  In this installment, Binti is yet again fighting to maintain peace between two warring alien cultures.  But this time, the resurgence has occurred in Binti’s home town and brings her family into the thick of things.

I continue to find the juxtaposition of maintaining a sense of culture and self with the additions of change and technology to be fascinating.  I found Binti’s predicament in this regard to be heart-wrenching.  And yet she continues to be an intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful, and beautiful within her being.  I also loved the addition of the new ship and getting to know Mwinyi better.

The main problem I had with this book was the ending.  It felt anti-climatic – mostly because I just wanted more!  While the story did resolve the conflict in Binti’s town, it just seems to halt Binti’s growth and story while there is still so much unanswered.  With the addition of the new ship and Mwinyi, I would love to know more.  The afterward made it clear that the author told the story she wanted to tell and I do respect that.  But I, for one, would be willing to read anything else she choses to write in this marvelous world.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene–though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don’t miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Nnedi Okorafor – Author

To buy the book go to:

the night masquerade – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

binti – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

home – book 2 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

akata witch – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

On the Horizon – one way (S.J. Morden)

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

one way (S.J. Morden)

Title: one way

Author: S.J. Morden

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: Tomorrow!! (hardback/ebook)

ISBN: 978-0316522182

Source: NetGalley

 

This book was a fun and entertaining read.  To save money, a corporation decides to train convicts to be the first exploratory crew on Mars.  It is a one way trip.  Their purpose is to build and set-up the living quarters for the NASA scientists that follow and then be the maintenance crew for the station.  Except that once they get to Mars, they start to die one by one and it doesn’t seem to be an accident.

The good:

  • Frank – I very much enjoyed Frank as the primary perspective.  He does not always make the best decisions (i.e. why he went to jail) but he is intelligent and likeable.  I was certainly rooting for him.
  • Concepts- I loved the idea that the subcontractors are trying to save money and use the convicts and other horrible ideas to stay under budget.
  • Characters – In general, I liked all the other convicts.  They are not really fleshed out at all but I enjoyed all of them in various ways.
  • Mars – I liked the descriptions of the planet and the science of the set up of for the dwelling fabrications.  It makes me realize, yet again, that I am not meant to ever be a space explorer.  I will stick to the sea!
  • Build-Up – this is a slow build-up book with a lot of training and introduction.  It takes a decent amount of time to even get to Mars.  Now I love this kinda start but others may not.  It was a fast read even with the slow build-up.
  • Writing Style – I enjoyed the author’s writing and manner of speech.

The not as good:

  • Mystery – The book claims to have one.  It is no mystery.  Even though I didn’t know it was supposed to be a who-dun-it tale, the bad guy and the set-up were obvious from the start.
  • Bad-Guy – A boring cookie cutter two-dimensional figure.  So very stereotypical.
  • Characters – I would have liked more insight into each of the characters rather than just seeing them as generic “types.”  But as they are only seen through Frank’s eyes, it wasn’t a major problem.
  • Mars – There is not much description of the planet itself or really what it feels like to live there.  The danger of oxygen loss is the most prevalent danger.  Besides murder of course!
  • Epistolary Prologues to the Chapters – These were short segments like transcripts, documents, etc. from the XO Corporation that were interspersed between chapters.  I enjoyed some of them but they didn’t appear to be in order and were such small snippets. Many were just confusing.  I did want the information about why and how XO made its choices but don’t know if it would have been better served in their own chapters or as an appendix or short story or something.
  •  Ending – an abrupt set-up for the sequel.  It annoyed me that it stopped there but I still want to know what happens next!

This is a light thriller read with very little mystery but is fluffy good entertainment.  A very quick, likeable read but nothing earth-shattering (Hardy har har!).  I will likely pick up the sequel.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Orbit!

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:

ONE WAY opens at the dawn of a new era – one in which we’re ready to colonise Mars. But the contract to build the first ever Martian base has been won by the lowest bidder, so they need to cut a lot of corners. The first thing to go is the automatic construction… the next thing they’ll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they’ll sent up to build it, when there aren’t supposed to be any at all.

Frank – father, architect, murderer – is recruited for the mission with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. As his crew sets to work, the accidents mount up, and Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all. As the list of suspects grows shorter, it’s up to Frank to uncover the terrible truth before it’s too late.

To visit the author’s website go to:

S.J. Morden – Author

To buy the novel go to:

one way – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

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

the tea master and the detective (Aliette de Bodard)

Title: the tea master and the detective

Author: Aliette de Bodard

Publisher: Subterranean Press

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

ISBN: 978-1596068643

Source: NetGalley

The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

  1. I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;
  2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and
  3. One of the characters is a mindship . . .

This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship.  It was previously a military ship who physically survived an ambush and massacre but since retired from active duty and is suffering PTSD and struggling to make ends meet.  One of the things the ship does to make money is brew special blends of tea.  These teas are made to suit the drinker’s specific goals and body chemistry.  One day a woman named Long Chau comes in and requests a serenity blend to focus her mind.  The ship takes the needed money and finds itself not only involved in a crime investigation but also having to face deep space where the ship swore it would never enter again.

Apparently this book is part of a series of books and stories set in the Universe of Xuya.  I had never read anything set in Xuya before.  I found the world-building and characterizations to be fascinating.  I absolutely loved the neurotic, damaged The Shadow’s Child and the story told from the ship’s perspective.  I didn’t really care much about the crime story itself but was more focused on how the ship was dealing with a situation it didn’t care for.  Long Chau is a purposefully unlikeable character who is trying to do the right thing.

Ultimately while I really enjoyed the story, I think I would like a longer work with more detailing of how the society functions and how the mindships work.  But this character-driven piece was a good introduction to a new world that I hope to visit more often.  Besides who doesn’t love mindships?  Arrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

Aliette de Bodard – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the tea master and the detective – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – trading in danger (Elizabeth Moon)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I have been wanting to read a book by this author forever and was going to start with the novel, cold welcome.  I heard about the book from the review by Sarah @ brainfluff and immediately added it to the list.  Where it sat.  It sat there long enough for Sarah to review the second book in the series.  By luck or coincidence, I had just picked up cold welcome to read when I saw Sarah’s review of book two which ended with “This is recommended for fans of science fiction thrillers – though ideally, you should first read the Vatta’s War series and Cold Welcome.”  I hadn’t realized there was another series and I trust Matey Sarah.  So I immediately put cold welcome on the back burner and got ahold of this one instead.

I absolutely loved it.  I sat and read avidly and completed the book in one session.  The novel started out with a bang.  The protagonist, Vatta, is expelled for military school but doesn’t know why.  How cool is that?  Sent home in disgrace, her wealthy family gives her a pity mission.  She has to Captain a cargo ship to a port where she will deliver the cargo and then sell the ship for scrap.  Her crew are all older and it is supposed to be a milk mission to let time pass and Vatta’s disgrace fade out of the media spotlight.  But Vatta has other ideas which of course don’t go according to plan.

Vatta was a fantastic protagonist – intelligent, clever, calm-under-pressure, and resourceful.  But she does make mistakes and has fears and concerns.  I loved watching her grow during the course of the book.  I thought the other crew members were excellent characters too if mostly in the background.  The plot was excellent and fun.  This was a perfect read in a perfect moment.  I will certainly be reading more of this series.  Arrr!

Side note: I thought this was the first book I had ever read by the author.  But apparently she also wrote the Paksenarrion series.  I read omnibus, the deed of paksenarrion, back in the day.  Sadly, me only memories of these books were that I liked them.  Nothing more in me noggin’ about it.  Sigh.

Amazon has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Moon – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

trading in danger – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the forever war (Joe Haldeman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This piqued me interest because of the title and then the blurb sounded awesome.  I had never heard of the author or the book.  I brought it home and of course the First Mate had not only heard of it but had read both it and another book in the series.  Apparently, yet again, I somehow missed one of the most important sci-fi works ever written.  This novel won the following awards:

Hugo Award for Best Novel (1976), Nebula Award for Best Novel (1975), Locus Award for Best Novel (1976), Ditmar Award for Best International Long Fiction (1976)

Also it is a sci-fi novel in response to the Vietnam War.  As Goodreads states:

Based in part on the author’s experiences in Vietnam, The Forever War is regarded as one of the greatest military science fiction novels ever written, capturing the alienation that servicemen and women experience even now upon returning home from battle. It shines a light not only on the culture of the 1970s in which it was written, but also on our potential future.

Well then.  So, of course, I had to read it and I have to say that I thought this book was amazing!  While the book’s Vietnam references are there, I overall felt that this book was timeless.  It didn’t feel aged or dated.  I thought it was absorbing and fascinating.

The plot follows Mandella as he fights in an interplanetary war.  The issue is that due to the logistics of space travel, Mandella’s battles can last several years while back on Earth decades or centuries pass.  The war is the one constant but every time Mandella’s on leave, he has to confront the social and economic changes that have been occurring back home.  And goodness do things change.

The main message seems to be that war is begun from stupidity and greed as a means to control the populace.  War is pointless and never has good consequences.  A message I can certainly get behind.  If ye haven’t read this one then I highly recommend it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

This is the first part of the “Forever War” series, however it can be read as a standalone . . .

The Earth’s leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand—despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. Pvt. Mandella is willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But “home” may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Joe Haldeman – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the forever war – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List