Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Title: Jezebel's Ladder (Jezebel's Ladder Book 1)
Author: Scott Rhine
“Jezebel's Ladder” is the first book in a sci-fi series written by Scott Rhine which spans a total of 5 novels. In this novel we are introduced to an ex-magician's assistant named Jezebel who reads an alien artefact, resulting in her being recruited into a corporation run by millionaire Elias Fortune who has been tracking down these artefacts. The artefacts seem to imbue those who read them with almost magical abilities which of course means that many governments and corporations are willing to kill to get their hands on them Therefore, working for Elias Fortune is full of risk but Jezebel is determined to stick it out and the novel charts her rise through the corporation whose final ambition is to head into space and meet the mysterious alien intelligence who seeded Earth with the artefacts.
This novel is pure Scott Rhine in that it is incredibly fast paced and doesn’t slow up at any point. It is like you have been strapped onto a rocket and blasted through a story full of twists, turns and action galore. If I had one issue with the style and structure of the book it would be that the pacing means it is easy to lose track of the details. There is so much going on at such a high pace, some people may quite simply struggle to keep up at times.
The plot itself is interesting, consistent and internally logical and was a fun journey from start to finish. A minor niggle would have to be that it did at times feel a little bit like an exercise in wish-fulfilment with Jezebel becoming almost superhuman in her ability to solve any problem without any real effort. Luckily Jezebel herself was a likeable character full of wit, loyalty and the odd flaw which meant most readers won’t begrudge her easy rise to becoming so powerful.
An interesting aspect of the novel is that the 2nd half is actually a re-working of Rhine’s novella “The Icarus Transformation”. I had actually already read the novella before but it was still interesting to see how he had managed to link this story with Jezebel’s. Unfortunately, to me the incorporation of this novella meant that the book felt like it was just two separate stories in Jezebel’s life which had been stuck together. It just don’t think it flowed very well and the movement between the two parts felt quite jarring.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, fast paced sci-fi adventure story which keeps you hooked right until the end. Most of the minor flaws probably all fallout from the break-neck pace that is utilised, but luckily you get carried along so quickly that you tend to forget any of the minor issues as quickly as you noticed them.
Monday, 8 June 2015
Title: Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic
Author: Christopher L. Bennett
The Book Depository
“Uncertain Logic” by Christopher L. Bennett is the third novel in the “Birth of the Federation” series which continues the adventures of the crew from Star Trek Enterprise. I have been thoroughly enjoying this series of novels and wasn’t surprised when I found myself appreciating this novel just as much as the others.
The story follows three simultaneous narratives, the first of which follows Archer and T’Pol as they work with the leaders of Vulcan after a shocking revelation is made about some of the planet’s new beliefs which could lead to a civil war. Then there is the crew of the USS Pioneer, captained by Malcolm Reed who are exploring an area of space dominated by some highly-advanced automated technology called the “Ware” which was first seen in the episode “Dead Stop.” The final story is that of the USS Essex (From TNG's "Power Play") which travels to the planet Delta IV where the locals turn out to be extremely hazardous to the ship’s crew
As I have come to expect with Bennett, the stories are all told exceedingly well and his skill at taking some rather disparate elements of continuity and moulding them into a cohesive story is nicely showcased again. My favourite storyline of the three had to be the Vulcan one which explores the Vulcan people and the rift that is forming in their civilisation. The way in which we see various Vulcan’s interpret and apply logic in their own unique ways made them feel like a real people, with individual ideas and opinions. The view that can sometimes be had of them being a rather homogeneous society when it comes to logic is well and truly shown up for the fallacy it is and I loved seeing that. Quite simply, I actually feel like I have a greater understanding of the common Vulcan citizen than I have before and I really appreciate this.
If I was going take any issue with the novel then it is probably that I think three storylines is maybe a little bit too much, especially when none of them are really connected with each other. The best way I can find to describe the book is that it felt more like an anthology of novella’s than a single novel. This was compounded by the fact that whilst I appreciated getting to see humanities first real contact with the Deltans and the introduction of the USS Essex, I honestly wasn’t that interested in what eventually turned into another Orion Pirate storyline. Compared to the incredibly engaging and interesting Vulcan storyline it just felt rather weak and un-needed.
Overall, this is another entertaining novel in the Rise of the Federation series. Bennett’s writing as always is top notch and I enjoy the way in which he manages to continue the story of Star Trek Enterprise and build on some of the smaller elements in Star Trek continuity. Yes it doesn’t feel like a single novel, but the Vulcan storyline alone is enough to mitigate this as I just treat the additional two stories as a bonus to be enjoyed beyond this core element.