Broadcast by Liam Brown

Broadcast by Liam Brown.

David is a rather shallow person but has become something of a personality because of his continuous vlogging. He shares just about every experience of everyday with his followers and he is doing very nicely from his inane posts.

Along comes a tech guru that offers him the opportunity to broadcast to his fans, live by direct feed, all he has to do is accept the terms and conditions, have a small implant and he is within days vlogging 24/7.

The journey David then goes on is one that starts off as curiosity, going through realisation that he can hide no thought from anyone to downright despair. Things like credit and debits cards are no longer things he can use because he would instantly tell the word his PIN. Anything needing a password cannot be accessed, again because his password would be broadcast to the world. Obviously there are good things too, like when he is hungry, all he has to do is think about that food and within an hour or so it arrives.

Eventually this all becomes too much for David and he attempts to escape from what has turned into a nightmare.

I really enjoyed this pre-distopia type story. Although it is relatively short it is full of insights into modern society, things like celebrity, fame, Reality TV and so on. The desire to be rich and famous outweighing almost every other desire.

If you like your Science Fiction relevant and with not much tech-talk I think you will really enjoy this one.

Thanks to Legend Press and Netgalley for a free prepublication copy

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Stark by Ben Elton

Stark by Ben Elton.

Nearly 30 years since publication this still has a lot of very current themes running through it. I hope Elton’s finale is very different to the one humanity will see. Stark is all about waste, pollution, chemical waste and generally how humans are ruining this beautiful planet we live on. How we all blame the manufacturers of the waste we throw away yet never really stop to thin that we have the power to stop them making these pollutants just by not buying them or the products they make!

Firstly, the Eco Warriors. They are what most of us would have expected to see in the late 80’s, hippy types who simply by their lack of purchasing power are complaining about all the waste and pollution. I know that view has changed over the years but 30 years ago we all held different views on what we thought Eco Warriors were. Not one of them is particularly likeable but I did find Zimmerman the best of them. An Ex Vietnam soldier that served with the mainly forgotten Australian forces that were alongside the US Army. He is certainly deranged but in a friendly sort of way and always puts others in the group before himself whereas the other members seem quite selfish at times.

Stark are the moneyed elite of the world. The 0.1% that own 99% of everything on the planet. Egotistical, greedy, self serving and generally obnoxious. I’m not sure that in reality these people are like this but for the purposes of the book it is a pretty good stereotype. They have discovered that the planet is dying, rapidly, and have a way of escaping but because of their self serving greed, they don’t want anyone else to know so they design a plan to build their escape in the Australian Outback.

From here we have this adventurous and at times riotous journey through to the completion of the Stark Project and the end of the world.

As always, I enjoyed Elton’s style with his meandering slightly off topic in the same way that the hippies wonder off topic in their discussions. There is more than enough humour mixed in with the real mess we are making of the planet, even a couple of proper laugh out loud moments!

Great read and I highly recommend it.

Mistress Of The Empire by Raymoned Feist & Janny Wurts

Mistress Of The Empire by Raymoned Feist & Janny Wurts (The Empire Trilogy #3)

There is something unnameable that is within all fantasy that I’ve read so far. You get wizards. magicians, strong characters, evil enemies, dwarves, elves and a whole plethora of weird and wonderful animals, dragons and the like. And, no matter how much I enjoy in all this world and society building it all boils down to political intrigue and posturing. Yet I still read and thoroughly enjoy fantasy!

I’ve really enjoyed The Empire Trilogy, almost as much as I enjoyed The Riftwar Saga. Loads of adventure, discovering new peoples and societies, the world building is pretty complete. Most of the characters are easily recognised and positioned to be either good or bad, one or two change sides but essentially there is little mystery within the factions.

In this finale, everything builds towards almost an anti climax because as the sides are drawn together it becomes pretty obvious how it will end. Which is a bit of a shame when the book is 500+ pages. The thing I find with fantasy though is that I just HAVE to carry on reading. If it were a crime thriller/political thriller I might be tempted to just lay it down to gather dust but for some unknown emotion, I just cannot do it with good fantasy writing.

I’m not saying much more as I’ve not written about the first two in the trilogy other than to say if you have yet to discover Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, I would get a start on. The whole series is a measly 31 books short.

400 Billion Stars by Paul McAuley

400 Billion Stars by Paul McAuley.

Three books in three days! That doesn’t happen very often.

Dorthy is an empath and she can read minds. After going to a special school where they have implanted a controlling device that prevents her from being bombarded by everyone’s thoughts she goes on to train as an astrologer. Her empathic talent can only be activated by a pill she takes if necessary.

The human race has expanded to cover several systems and is now at war with an enemy that evades capture to the point of destroying ships and even worlds if it looks like they will be captured. In its ever expanding search for new planets, the space navy discovers a new and rather oddly located planet which for the most part looks uninhabited but lower life forms are discovered. Again after much scientific research, nothing is discovered about this seemingly harmless lifeform.

Dorthy is conscripted into the scientific team to see if she can gain any new insight through her empath talent as some theories seem to point to this lifeform might be an ancestor of the humans enemy. She does not want to be there and hates it but gets on with her job.

Although rather slow this is a brilliant story of human civilisations expansion, discovery of other worlds and lifeforms. There is some good hard science fiction as well. The human characters aren’t easy to like whereas the newly discovered lifeforms seem to simply exist with no real meaning to their lives, so they gender no emotional feeling in this reader.

This is his debut novel and the first of the 400 Billion Stars trilogy by McAuley

The Omega Theory: A Novel by Mark Alpert

The Omega Theory: A Novel by Mark Alpert

David Swift, our hero, is a science historian and his wife Monique Reynolds is a quantum physicist, so you already know this is going to be full of science based fact and fiction. In the first book, The Final Theory, David is the one doing the running as he evades the FBI who accuse him of murder. This time around David is the one doing the chasing. His adopted autistic son has been kidnapped because he has a mathematical mind and knows the code for The Final Theory from the first book.

In this book, two scientists on opposite sides of the world have invented a machine that can spot disturbances in space-time and they discover such a shift after a nuclear test in Iran. This all points to someone else knowing The Final Theory. David’s son is then abducted and the chase begins.

We are taken on a rollercoaster ride from North America to Israel, Iran and Turkmenistan as David evades insurmountable odds to rescue his son but eventually all the baddies get killed and David and his small team of helpers save the day though miraculously David, Monique and their adopted son are 3 of not many more survivors.

The science is almost overwhelming yet Alpert manages to make it all understandable and the storyline is gripping, a real edge of your seat page turner. The baddies are religious and believe they are saving the world and everything on it and for the most part, the goodies seem fairly non-religious. Though a lot of the action takes place in the Middle East, the baddies are American that have managed to co-opt other nationals to their cause.

This is good fun to read as long as you take none of it seriously, otherwise certain people may be upset by the stereotypes that are used throughout the book.

One interesting geological fact within the story is the piece set around the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan. I had to check if this was a real place and sure enough I found the Wikipedia entry. Alpert also mentions it at the end of the book.

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