The Captain’s Log – hotshot (Peter Watts)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So last week I reviewed a novella by Peter Watts called the freeze frame revolution which I highly enjoyed.  While writing that review, I learned that the novella was part of a series – the Sunflower series.  There are three other stories and all are available for free on the author’s website.  So I decided to read this one – the second published but the first by chronology.

This story also deals with Sunday Ahzmundin, the protagonist from the freeze frame revolution.  At 23 pages it is a short foray into the circumstances of the Spores.  I won’t even touch on the plot because I can’t explain it well and since it’s so short I don’t want to give spoilers.  Just know that I did love this brief excursion.  The physics of it all went above me head as usual but I did get the gist.

Personally I be glad to have read them in the order I did.  I got a longer story in the freeze frame revolution and truly grew to love Sunday  So then going back in time while knowing some of her future was fun.

I will certainly be readin’ the island next.  Keep a weathered eye out!  Arrr!

Side note: Claudia @ goodreads’ review (which is excellent) is what told me about the publication of the Sunflower series.  As she says:

. . . it’s part of a series of stories, entitled the Sunflowercycle, which includes three more short ones (so far).*

Publication order is: The Island (2009) – Winner of Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2010, Hotshot (2014), Giants (2014) and The Freeze-Frame Revolution (June 2018).

Now, after reading all, my advice is they are to be read in this order: Hotshot, The Freeze-Frame Revolution, The Island, Giants . . .

* all three available on the author’[s] site: http://www.rifters.com/real/shorts.htm

Normally I put a blurb here but since this story be so short I be skippin’ it!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Peter Watts – Author

To read this story go to:

hotshot – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

the freeze frame revolution (On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)

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The Captain’s Log – dread nation (Justina Ireland)

Ahoy there me mateys!  So this book be an alternative history set in the Reconstruction era with young black adult zombie killers.  Cool, right?  And a lot of it takes place in Baltimore which be a port I called home once upon a time.  So I just had to read this one.  And I can say that it is certainly a very fun story.

I genuinely loved the main character, Jane McKeene.  She be me kinda gal.  She is intelligent, gusty, smart-mouthed, a fierce fighter, and just plain fun.  I would totally want her as part of me crew.  Actually I rather liked all the characters in this book and even loved to dislike the bad guys and gals as well.

I am in the minority though when it comes to the plot.  I absolutely adored the set-up of the novel, the introduction of the major characters, the reimaging of the civil war’s ending due to zombie apocalypse, the combat schools, the politics, and the world-building in general.

However, the author chose to make a rather abrupt decision half-way through the book and changed locations.  The focus and pacing shifted.  The action decreased.  I didn’t really care for the new direction the author took it.  But I adored the characters and did need to know how the book ended.  Which also wasn’t to me taste.  The ending was very, very convenient.

That being said because I love the world and the characters that overall I very much enjoyed meself.  I will likely read more of the further adventures of Jane McKeene.  Me quibbles were small and the crew heartily seems to be giving this one 5 stars all around.  So check it out.  Ye might be one of them.  Arrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Justina Ireland – Author

To buy the book go to:

dread nation – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – marque and reprisal & engaging the enemy (Elizabeth Moon)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This here be a combined review of the second and third books of the Vatta’s War series. While I try to post no spoilers, if ye haven’t read the first book and ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

Well book one could have been a standalone but I am extremely glad it wasn’t!  The second book quickly brings about a major, surprising change for the main character, Ky Vatta, and her family.  It was mind-boggling but brilliant.  It certainly upped the ante.  I loved the crazy mercenary company and how Ky made deals with them.  I loved all the space battles.  It even makes trading goods interesting.

Ky continues to be a delight.  I love watching her get into impossible situations and use her brain and her gusto to solve problems.  These books be action-packed, have no real romance, and be filled with admirable women.   I particularly love Grandma Grace.  She is one tough cookie.

The only minor quibble was the distrust between Ky and her cousin in book three.  It made sense in terms of story telling but it did wear on me a bit.  I think that overall this book, while enjoyable, felt more like a placeholder set-up book.  However, the ending was very satisfying and I am extremely interested in what adventures Ky will get into next.

I have already made plans to get books four and five in me mitts.  Arrr!!!

Side note: Much thanks to me matey, Sarah @ brainfluff, for pointing me in the right direction in terms of the recommended readin’ sequence for these books!

Normally I would put blurbs here but they are too spoilery for me taste.  Arrr!

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elizabeth Moon – Author

To buy the novels please visit:

marque and reprisal – Book 2

engaging the enemy – Book 3

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

trading in danger – book 1 (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)

The Captain’s Log – acadie (Dave Hutchinson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I picked this sci-fi novella up from a local library as soon as I saw it was published by Tor.  I adore their novella line.  Five out of the six novellas nominated for the Hugo this year were published by them.  I have read four of them so far and highly enjoyed them all.

This particular story was published in 2017.  I have heard of Dave Hutchinson and have his work on me ports for plunder list but have not read any of it yet. I have to admit that the author’s name didn’t even register when I saw this.  I saw the sci-fi sticker and the Tor logo and snatched it up.

The premise is that a group of colonists, led by scientist Isabel Potter, fled Earth due to its restrictions on genetic engineering. The problem was that they stole a ship with colonists on it when they left.  Potter and the colonists’ descendants have been trying to eke a life outside of Earth’s influence for generations.  Duke Faraday, a lawyer, has been drawn into the conflict.  Why is Earth still hunting Potter and her gang?  Will they ever give up?  And what is Duke going to do about it?

It was a quick, fun read and I devoured it.  I absolutely loved the whole story, the set-up, the conflict, the ending, the writing style, the plot, and Duke himself.  A fabulous novella that ye should read if ye can.  I will certainly be picking up more work by Dave Hutchinson.  Arrr!

Side note:  For lists of the 2015/2016 novellas released by Tor click below.  I kinda want to read them all!  If any of me crew knows of a definitive list of novellas released after that please let me know!  Me search was fruitless.

Tor.com Publishing 2015/2016 Novella Lineup

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars. Dave Hutchinson brings far future science fiction on a grand scale in Acadie.

The Colony left Earth to find their utopia–a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore the colonists’ genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

To visit the author’s wiki page go to:

Dave Hutchinson – Author

To buy the book go to:

acadie – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – airborn (Kenneth Oppel)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was an audiobook that I picked up because I was looking for a fluffy young adult book.  I think somewhere I had heard there be dragons.  Well, there be no dragons here.  But there are cool flying animals, airships, silly fish-loving chefs, sea-adventures, pirates, lost islands, smart feisty girls, daring kind-hearted boys, and adventure!

The other appeal of this particular audiobook was that is was performed by Full Cast Audio.  According to their website “Full Cast Audio (FCA) has a simple mandate: to produce unabridged recordings of fine children’s novels using a full cast rather than a single reader. Whenever possible, we invite the author to serve as narrator.”  They are located back in me (very) old stomping grounds of Syracuse, New York where it snowed every day from Halloween to April.  I heard about this company because mateys of mine worked as voice actors for the company.  At yet I had never listened to a single book.  This is back in the day where audiobooks really weren’t a thing and these productions were treated more as radio plays.  So I was delighted to finally hear one.

I absolutely loved the main character, Matt Cruse, and his love for the airship, Aurora.  The ship felt real and lived in.  Ye got a real sense of Matt’s life onboard.  Matt was poor but plucky, hard-working, and ambitious.  The story is told from his perspective.  Joining him on the ship is Kate de Vries, an upper class passenger.  She likes science and photography and out-witting her chaperone.  She is out to solve a mystery and draws Matt into the chase.

I thought overall that this was an excellent foray.  Matt could get a bit overbearing and Kate was a bit short-sighted and stubborn.  But the world building was lovely, the pirates were dastardly, and the science behind both the ship and creatures was fascinating.  The plot was intense and full of action.  I loved the voice performances and the sound effects.  The side characters were as wonderful as the main duo.  It was an engaging and quick read.  It could work as a standalone though it is part of a larger trilogy.

I want me an airship!!  Arrr!!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Kenneth Oppel – Author

To buy the book go to:

airborn – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – lord valentine’s castle (Robert Silverberg)

Ahoy there me mateys!  A little while back, I was introduced to Robert Silverberg’s work with his novella the emperor and the maula.  Like I said then, I had absurdly never heard of him.  Now if ye be unaware of the author:

I learned from sandy @ fantasyliterature that Mr. Silverberg has written no fewer than “78 sci-fi novels, almost 450 short stories and novellas, around 70 books of nonfiction, and around 185 novels of, um, “adult fiction,” in addition to having edited over 130 anthologies.”  Talk about prolific!  He is currently 82 years old.  Goodreads says that he has won 5 Hugos and 5 Nebulas.  Also he is a 2004 Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  Sheesh!

At the time I reached out to the crew for recommendations of what else to read out of his many, many works.  Me matey, calmgrove, said “I’ve really enjoyed his Majippoor novels, all set on a giant planet. The first, “Lord Valentine’s Castle”, is very accessible, but to be honest if you don’t want to read the rest if the loosely linked series you won’t feel too denied!”

I liked the idea that it was a series that 1) if I liked it I could read more; and 2) it was a self-contained story.  Plus a local library had it for free on audiobook.  Decision made!

It turned out to be an okay read.  I didn’t love it but I am glad I read it.  I actually loved the world-building, the characters, and the wonderful set-up.  The titular character, Valentine, was extremely fun.  When ye start the book, Valentine is entering an enormous city in time for a festival.  What ye learn is that Valentine has no memories at all.  They start at the moment the reader meets him – on the hill on day of his arrival in the big city.  Where did he come from?  Why is he there?  He doesn’t know what to do with himself so he joins a juggling troupe!  Fantastic.

There were two major problems for me and unfortunately both are pet peeves.  The first was that it is a travelogue.  I love that ye get to see new places and people but here each are touched on only briefly.  I don’t tend to like books where the characters wander around and nothing really exciting happens.  In this book, the focus is on Valentine’s struggle to remember his past and then his reluctance to believe it.  That reluctance is me second problem.  Valentine waffles and hems and haws about his identity even when it has already been proven to the reader and even other characters in the book.

I do not like wishy-washy characters or angst.  I did understand why Valentine wouldn’t want to take up his old position.  I understood why he might want a choice in his life’s path.  Who wouldn’t?  But I would have liked, after a brief inter-personal struggle, to have seen him embrace his past and then decide how to tackle his future.  Instead, the situation is resolved in almost a laughable way with very little action or suspense.  Also there are convenient people who happen to come along and offer help at just the right moment.  Sigh.

Dreams are also a major part of this book.  They have real-world consequences and send messages to the people.  There are dream readers and dream rulers.  Dreams are tied into the ruling of the government.  According to Wikipedia “The planet is ruled by an unusual tetrarchy: an adoptive Coronal rules in a highly visible and symbolic manner from his palace atop Castle Mount; the previous Coronal retires to become the Pontifex, the head of the bureaucracy in an underground Labyrinth; the Coronal’s mother becomes the Lady of the Isle of Sleep, promoting the morals of Majipoor by sending dreams to its inhabitants; while a hereditary King of Dreams on the distant continent of Suvrael punishes wrongdoers by visiting them with nightmares.”  Again cool concept but I was more than a bit confused how they impacted Valentine’s journey.

I did happen to love Lisamon Hultin, a giant warrior woman mercenary.  She was so fun!  And there was an excellent part dealing with the sea and sea serpents.  I, of course, adored that section.  And truly, I was rooting for Valentine the whole time.  While the plot didn’t excite me, I was glad to have this introduction to Majipoor world.  I am not adverse to readin’ the second book as it seems to be a collection of individual stories set in a larger framework.  Arrr!

Check out this interesting article on the Tor.com website about the novel.

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Valentine, a wanderer who knows nothing except his name, finds himself on the fringes of a great city, and joins a troupe of jugglers and acrobats; gradually, he remembers that he is the Coronal Valentine, executive ruler of the vast world of Majipoor, and all its peoples, human and otherwise…

Valentine’s journey is a long one, a tour through a series of magnificent environments. Fields of predatory plants give way to impossibly wide rivers, chalk-cliffed islands and unforgiving deserts. The prose is unrelentingly dreamlike—no accident given that on Majipoor, dreams rule the minds of great and humble alike.

Originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in four parts: November 1979, December 1979, January 1980 and February 1980.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robert Silverberg – Author

To buy the book go to:

lord valentine’s castle – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

The Captain’s Log – the poppy war (R.F. Kuang)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I heard about this amazing book from a review by me crew member, Mogsy @ thebibliosanctum.  It is getting five-star reviews by tons of me crew.  Split into three distinct sections, this story follows a war orphan named Rin.  Very briefly, the sections are 1) school testing ; 2) magic training; and 3) war.

This be a story that grows darker as ye read.  At the beginning, the book almost feels like a YA book where ye cheer young Rin on.  But as Rin matures, so does the book’s tone.  School is a place of bullies, lectures, and hard lessons.  And then war comes and it is graphic and unflinching.  But the world-building is lovely and the detail impeccable.

Me only small quibble is that the last part of magic training and the first part of war dragged a little for me.  Other readers did not seem to have this problem.  I do think that if ye can handle the darker subject matter then ye should give this a go.  I certainly want the next book!

Side note: Isn’t this cover fabulous?

Check out me crew members reviews of this one:

Melanie @ metotheany’s review – “And ultimately, this is a story about a girl who has been given nothing but pain in a world that constantly reminds her that she is lesser. And she overcomes every single hurdle and becomes not only what the world said she couldn’t be, but she becomes what she wanted to be. Like, this book is powerful, empowering, and a love letter to all girls that are told they can’t do something daily.”

James Lafayette Tivendale’s review – “I can safely say that this will be the finest debut of 2018 and I’d be surprised if it isn’t one of the top 3 books of the year full stop. Spectacular, masterclass, brilliant, awesome… All the complimentary buzzwords you can imagine don’t quite do The Poppy War justice for how amazing it is.”

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

To visit the author’s website go to:

R.F. Kuang – Author

To buy the book go to:

the poppy war – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List