Through Time and Space — Julia Crane

A fun, little re-make of Little Red Riding Hood with all the usual protagonists portrayed as Venusians being banished to Earth.

This is my first story from the anthology, Once Upon A Star, which, apparently, is all fairy tales re-told in sci-fi settings.   However, i would put Through Time and Space squarely in the fantasy box as moving by magic from one planet to another isn’t really sci-fi in my genre boxes.   One certainly wouldn’t put Raymond E Feist in the sci-fi category and he has plenty of rift gate planet hopping going on in his books.

I read this just so i could add it to my Little Red Riding Hood collection, and genre debates aside, it’s a nice little addition to the page.

Julia’ Page

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Rendezvous With Rama — Arthur C. Clarke

What’s there to say: proper, good, classic sci-fi.   As with Childhood’s End, it is well deserving of it’s place in the “SF Masterworks” series.

This time, instead of actual aliens coming to Earth and a prophecy of how humanity will eventually evolve, in Rendezvous With Rama we have a large alien vessel entering the solar system on a path that will take it inside the orbit of Mercury, around the Sun, and then, is anyone’s guess.   Will it adjust it’s trajectory, pull a breaking manouvre and find a stable orbit in the solar system, or will it use the Sun and sling shot elsewhere?   Where did it come from, who sent it, who or what is inside, what is it’s purpose?

Set in a time when humans have colonised several planets and moons in the solar system and space flight is quite normal, we have one space ship — the Endeavour, captained by a big fan of James Cook — that is able to get some fuel and rendezvous with this vessel and investigate it.   However, once the vessel has passed inside the orbit of Mercury, the Mercurians decide to take matters into their own hands and ignore what the rest of humanity has to say on the matter.

As i say, this is a proper old school sci-fi first contact story at its best and well deserving of its place as a “SF Masterworks”.

Arthur’s Page

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Finale — Stephanie Garber

This book is utterly intolerable.   I managed to get to 41% before i simply couldn’t take it any more.

After Legendary lead me to believe that there was hope for these two sisters, that they have grown up a bit and learned something from their previous experiences, in Finale it’s like we’ve gone back to the childish romantic stupidity of the first book, but this time it’s both sisters who are just being utterly ridiculous.

While i can accept that there are plenty of people in the world who act like these two sisters do, continuously allowing their immature, undeveloped emotions to get the better of them, they wouldn’t be able to survive in an environment like the one in these books.   No one who makes such ridiculous, pathetic, nonsensical decisions in such an environment would survive for more than 10 minutes.   So the idea that the immortal greats of the universe would fall in love with such pathetic creatures is as utterly ridiculous as these sisters are, as utterly ridiculous as Stephanie’s writing has become.

I’m not sure what audience this trilogy is aimed at, certainly not anyone who has had any life experience, certainly not anyone who enjoys good fantasy and certainly not anyone who thinks Night Circus is good.   If you enjoyed Night Circus, if you like good fantasy, or if you’ve had any life experience at all, stay away from the Caraval trilogy, it’s woeful.

I’m certainly glad i only paid 99p for each book in Kindle deals: i’d be rather grumpy if i’d paid the full asking price for these.

It’s so bad i simply don’t care how this all ends as i simply can’t read any more of this rubbish.   I’ll be deleting all three books from my Kindle and my Amazon account as i certainly won’t be finishing this one or reading the other two ever again.

Stephanie’s Page

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Legendary — Stephanie Garber

Well this book is definitely much better than Caraval, mostly due to the fact that Scarlett gets a back seat in this book while her sister, Tella, gets to play the game.

But is it a game, or is it real this time.   The line between fact and fiction begin to blur until Tella isn’t sure what’s real or who to trust any more.   And the reader experiences this through Tella’s mind, leaving the reader guessing as well.

Even now the book’s ended i still wouldn’t like to say what’s really going on or who or what is real or not.

And so i shall dive straight into book 3, Finale, to hopefully find out what the true ending is — or maybe not.

Please see my review for Finale as i have now moved all three books to “The Deleted” and removed them all from my Amazon account.

Stephanie’s Page

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Caraval — Stephanie Garber

This book has to have one of the most annoying protagonists that i’ve ever come across: Scarlett comes across as a totally spoiled brat in so many ways.   All her life she’s wanted to go to Caraval and when she gets the chance she doesn’t want to, instead, she’d rather marry a complete stranger that she’s never met and force her sister to go with her to wherever it is she doesn’t know she’ll be going when she eventually weds this complete stranger.

And so we have to put up with Scarlett’s whining for most of the book as she’s kidnapped and forced to play Caraval in order to get her sister back who’s also been kidnapped.   One would think that if she cared so much about her sister she’d stop all the moaning and complaining and get on with the game in order to get her sister back, but no, not Scarlett, let’s have never ending tantrums instead.

But one shouldn’t allow one character to define a whole book, even if she is the main protagonist.   Plenty of books have the most cringeworthy of characters yet are still brilliant.   At the end of the story, other than Scarlett’s incessant whining, complaining and spoiled brat tantrums, this is a very good book and a great story that one can’t help but continue reading through to the very end — which i won’t spoil.

I’d probably put this book on a shelf between The Night Circus and Ready Player One, as the game Scarlett is forced to play is quite similar to the game in Ready Player One but instead of the virtual on-line thing it’s more like the environment in The Night Circus with the travelling magical carnival style thing.

Undoubtedly, Stephanie is a very good writer and keeps the story moving along at an enjoyably good pace all the way through, and when you get to the end you’ll be left wanting to dive straight into Legendary for more: at least i was.   Although i do admit, i’m hoping that Scarlett has learned to stop all the whining and complaining.

So yeah, i would have given it 5/5 but because Scarlett was so bloody annoying i’m left giving it 4/5 just because of her.   The rest of the story is very enjoyable.

Please see my review for Finale as i have now moved all three books to “The Deleted” and removed them all from my Amazon account.

Stephanie’s Page

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The Last Broadcast — Christopher Ruz

An AI is put in charge of looking after a space ship with thousands of people in hibernation pods.   The journey is to last thousands of years and the AI has no one to talk to …

… and so the AI starts to have a bit of a mental health crisis.

I really enjoy good AI stories and this is certainly a good one.   As machines become more intelligent one can imagine that they will begin to break down due to similar issues: what are we going to do with these machines when we don’t have them crunching data and they can do many years of thinking in a few seconds?

Food for thought.

My only complaint about this is that it is way to short for such a brilliant idea.   I would have loved this very premise to be played out in a novella at least.   But we can’t have everything we want.

Christopher’s Page

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Enchanted Britain — Marc Alexander

I thought this would be interesting, and the first chapter was certainly promising.   Then we get onto chapter 2 and it just bangs on and on and on and on and on and on and on about some fictional characters called Jesus and Joseph and the claims of the christians and about churches and abbots and abbeys and all this holy grail nonsense.

I could go on a rant here but i have no wish to read about the beliefs and nonsense of christianity.   The Pagan people of Britain have had the beliefs and nonsense of the christians forced down our throats for nearly 2000 years and i don’t buy books to read more of it.

Needless to say, i didn’t get to the end of the second chapter and i have no wish to read any more of this book.

Deleted!

Marc’s Page

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The Girl in Red — Christina Henry

Having read all of Christina’s previous books — which i’ve extremely enjoyed — i had very high hopes for this book: alas, it was not to be.

So “Red”, our protagonist and narator, is on a journey to her Grandma’s house across several hundred miles of the USA after a coughing plague has culled nearly all the people: basically it’s a post-apocalyptic survival story.

And the whole book is taken up with the first half of this journey until there’s an endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-thing — WTF!!!   Remember Alien and Sigourney Weaver?   Yeah, that’s what an endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-thing is.

The army turn up and the soldier guy who chases the endoparasitoid-bursting-out-the-chest-things admits to Red that the government made it in a lab.   He lets Red carry on with her journey instead of taking her to the quarantine camp, and in a few pages Red arrives at her Grandma’s.   It’s like the second half of Red’s journey didn’t happen, like she was just magically transported to her Grandma’s.   And no explanation as to the endoparasitoid and why the government would make such a thing.

And it’s this one single, silly, ridiculous idea of an endoparasitoid thrown into the story with no purpose whatsoever that completely ruins the book — and also the second half of Red’s journey being skipped over as though it didn’t really happen, or was in a completely different world to the first half.

We don’t even get to know how Grandma has been surviving or anything.

Basically, the ending is utter garbage and totally ruins the whole story.   It’s just a total nonsensical ending.

It just left me which such a disappointment.   This is far below Christina’s usual standard.

Ho hum: i suppose we all have to write something crap once in a while.

Christina’s Page

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The Path of Pins, the Path of Needles — KT Bryski

So this is a well weird tale to tell.

I like walking and other forms of exercise, and while i’m doing them i like to listen to various podcasts.   I usually have a good pile queued up on my phone to listen to, to make sure i never run out.

So while i was out walking yesterday morning, the next podcast on the list started to play and it was this one: The Path of Pins, the Path of Needles.   Which, it just so happens, is a Little Red Riding Hood spin off.

How Lightspeed managed to justify shoehorning a Little Red Riding Hood spin off into a Sci-Fi magazine, and then also manage to shoehorn it onto my phone to play at exactly the same time i’m having a Little Red Riding Hood reading binge, i have absolutely no idea.   But it’s all pretty uncanny when you think about it: like there’s more to these fairy tales than we at first may think.

So yeah, you can read it in Lightspeed magazine, on their website, or listen to the podcast like i did:

Charles’ Page

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Little Red Riding Hood — Brothers Grimm

Along with Perrault’s version, this was background reading for Christina Henry’s book: The Girl in Red.

While i don’t mind a bit of plagiarising, i do expect that when one does so that they have the ability to improve over the original.   The Grimm’s don’t manage that.

Sadly, this is the version that most people in UK know, and most think it’s the original.

Brothers Grimm’s Page

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