Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quick Reviews: Corvette and For We are Many

Part of the fun in working with the Castalia House blog is the bimonthly look at indie and small press fiction that I've been doing. There's an ever sprawling selection of science fiction that doesn't get mainstream attention. Someone has to go find the worthy titles. Some weekends, this is more chore than joy. Other times, the discovery of a fun read makes it worth it.

This past weekend, I read five books. One was skippable, the next flawed, the third Bakemonogatari, while the last two stood out. Rather than discuss missteps and snake demons, I thought I'd spend a moment on the highlights. Expect to see both over at the CH blog in the next months.


Corvette, by Ken McConnell

So this is novel. A military sci-fi story without the typical quirky crew, easy insubordination, or action girls and guys. Just a quiet, competent crew handling their duties and combat actions with professionalism and discipline. This does undermine the drama a bit, but it makes for a nice palate-cleanser for the weekend.

From the publisher:

Thirty years before the start of the Great War, a small starship has a deadly encounter with a massive alien warship on the fringes of the Outer Rim. When Lieutenant Armon Vance found himself assigned to the oldest ship in the fleet, stationed on the edge of the known galaxy, he figured his Fleet career was over. In fact he was about to embark on the most important mission of his young career and his captain would rely heavily on him to help them get back alive after encountering a massive military warship of the Votainion Armada. In the spirit of grand Naval adventures of the past, Corvette packs exciting military action into a swiftly moving story of heroics and bravery in deep space.


For We Are Many, by Dennis Taylor

I'll be honest, I passed on this the first time around. Naming things "Bob" is a knowingly cringe move in science fiction, hipster irony at its worst. And, worse than that, the joke spread to other cultures as well. (The anime Iria comes to mind.) However, the second Bobiverse book has been a decent if episodic read, mixing space exploration, terraforming, and first contact stories, and taking its premise seriously, even if it can't help but pass up on a few digs at scifi along the way. 

 From the publisher:

Bob Johansson didn't believe in an afterlife, so waking up after being killed in a car accident was a shock. To add to the surprise, he is now a sentient computer and the controlling intelligence for a Von Neumann probe. Bob and his copies have been spreading out from Earth for 40 years now, looking for habitable planets. But that's the only part of the plan that's still in one piece. A system-wide war has killed off 99.9% of the human race; nuclear winter is slowly making the Earth uninhabitable; a radical group wants to finish the job on the remnants of humanity; the Brazilian space probes are still out there, still trying to blow up the competition; And the Bobs have discovered a spacefaring species that sees all other life as food. Bob left Earth anticipating a life of exploration and blissful solitude. Instead he's become a sky god to a primitive native species, the only hope for getting humanity to a new home, and possibly the only thing that can prevent every living thing in the local sphere from ending up as dinner.

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