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

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

Sailing to the Stars – empress of a thousand skies (Rhoda Belleza)

Ahoy there me mateys!  While this book was partly enjoyable, I am not sure that I would read the next in the series.  For starters, the blurb basically misleads the reader . . .

The story is supposed to be about a girl named Rhee who is the last survivor of her imperial bloodline.  She wants revenge for the death of her family and a fight to get the throne.  A soldier, Aly, is falsely accused of killing Rhee and must fight to get out the truth in order to save himself and perhaps avert a war.

It says that “Rhee and Aly are thrown together” to save the world.  Ummm they see each other across the room once in this novel.  That’s it.  I kept waiting for their paths to cross.  Perhaps in the next novel.

Well basically Rhee is a super annoying protagonist.  Her method of getting revenge is subpar.  For supposedly being a badass, she basically jumps into everything with no thought and stumbles from one place to another.  She doesn’t have a real plan.  Her take on revenge is juvenile and she seems to have no inkling of how to be an empress or desire to be one.  She does not even appear to be willing to fight for herself.  She expects everyone to help her.

Aly on the other hand was the highlight of this novel.  He has the second POV.  I loved many of his chapters.  The fact that he has a robot buddy didn’t hurt.  He uses his brain, meets cool people on his travels, and doesn’t whine.  I wish the whole book was about him and his friend Kara.  Rhee could disappear and I think the story would improve.  He might be worth reading the second book for . . .

The plot itself had some extremely predictable points.  In addition, time jumps between chapters and POV with no real explanation of logistics.  The number of pods the characters steal without being caught (or even chased) sort of belied a feasible reality.  In fact the world-building and planets seemed rather lackluster.  As did the tech.  Though there was an exceptionally cool ship made of organic matter that I loved.  The book needed more fun details like that.

Again, I didn’t hate it.  I just did not think the world or tech or characters were anything new or stunning.  I think if ye never read a space opera yarn then this may be a book to lure readers into the genre.  But for me it was just an okay trip.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Empress
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.

To visit the author’s publisher’s website go to:

Rhoda Belleza – Author

To buy this novel to go:

empress of a thousand skies – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – scythe (Neal Shusterman)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This cover and its title drew me in:

Isn’t that gorgeous?  So of course I had to know what it was about.  Turns out that Earth, with the help of a super computer, has no natural death, hunger, disease, war, etc.  But because the population still needs to be controlled, there are human scythes whose job it is to choose who will die.- within certain rules and parameters of course.

The story concerns Citra and Rowan, two teens, who are chosen to be trained as apprentice scythes.  Neither of them wants the job but both say yes for assorted reasons.  The catch is that only one of them will be chosen to advance as a scythe.  But each apprentice has to decide if they truly want the job as well as try to pass the appropriate tests..

The world and characters that the author set up were extremely interesting.  I liked the various scythes and how each chooses to approach the work.  I love the weird super computer.  I enjoyed both Citra and Rowan’s stories.  I thought the introduction to both of those characters as well as to their master scythe were especially well done and engaging.  There are a lot of lovely details that made this version of Earth come alive for me.

The flaw in the reading was in the plot.  The first half flew by and then the story seemed to stagnate.  The middle was kinda boring and there were some plot twists that I did not like at all.  But I kept reading because I loved the overall world set-up and wanted to know how it ended.  And I highly enjoyed how the author chose to conclude this first book.  I am not sure what will happen in the second book but I do believe I will read it.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Neal Shusterman – Author

To buy the book go to:

scythe – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

On the Horizon – miniatures (John Scalzi)

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

miniatures: the very short fiction of john scalzi (John Scalzi)

Title: miniatures: the very short fiction of john scalzi

Author: John Scalzi

Illustrator: Natalie Metzger

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: December 31, 2016 (hardback/e-book)

ISBN: 9781596068124

Source: NetGalley

Okay so it may be no secret to me crew that I am kinda in love with John Scalzi’s novels.  He has been featured on a Broadside, had the dispatcher reviewed by both me and the First Mate, and writes a blog called Whatever, that I follow regularly.  So when the man himself blogged about the release of this short story collection I knew I wanted to read it.  When I was on Netgalley, I happened to see it.  Then the publisher happened to grant it to me for readin’.  Yay!

Since I am very familiar with the Scalzi writing style, I waited for a day that was rather blah and where I needed a pick-me-up.  Cause Scalzi is funny.  So the day came and I settled in me bunk for a treat.  And I got exactly what I wanted.

Out of the 18 pieces, me top 3 standouts . . .

“Alien Animal Encounters” – Perhaps ye have heard of the those segments where people like Jay Leno do segments like “Jay Walking” where random people on the street are asked the Question of the Week.  Well in this story, the question is “What is the most interesting encounter you’ve had with an alien animal species?”  This is the first story of the collection and set the tone nicely.  Favorite animals included the cat (duh!) and the courou.

“Denise Jones, Superbooker” – Set in the form of a transcript, this story is about a booking agent for super heroes.  She answers important questions about super hero secret identities, contracts, and other secrets of the biz.  The bit about Bryan Garcia made me happy.  There is a related story later in the collection called “The State of Super Villainy” that was fun too.

“Your Smart Appliances Talk About You Behind Your Back” – Security systems, fridges, waffle irons . . . if they could speak what would they report about their owners.  ‘Nuff said.

There were a couple of stories that didn’t really float me boat – one about Pluto, one about extortionists, and one about Penelope.  And some that were just plain weird Scalzi – like sentient yogurt.  But overall Scalzi delivers as usual.  Quick and fun.

For another take by me crew member who loved it:

the green onion

So lastly . . .

Thank you Subterranean Press!

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

To visit the author’s website go to:

John Scalzi – Author

To buy the novel go to:

miniatures – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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)