Reviews: Area 51 1/2 November-December 2015


by Steven Sawicki


Greenings Thirders

We have noted that your species consumes. Everything. And to excess. This fascinates us as you are the only species that we know of that does this. Well, sure there are many indications on dead worlds that perhaps this type of behavior has existed but no living organism yet survives to validate. Perhaps it is because you live such short lives, although why you have not fixed this yet by — -but we should say no more about that. Of course until you manage your own procreation it is irrelevant. You do understand that if there were less of you there would be more for you? No? This escapes you? That would explain much. In any case, we have been noting and taking notes on this phenomenon. We are calling it the self extinction retrograde cha cha and while we would enjoy seeing the end we are fearful that doing so would mean we would be too involved and we, unlike, apparently, you, plan to exist for the full range of our capabilities. We also noted the apparent excitement you all evidenced during what you called your lunar eclipse. We’re not sure why you get so excited by these things as they are artifacts of the primitive lives you should have left behind many cycles ago. And you do know that these traversions occur on a daily basis, you just need to be standing in the right place. We’d invite you along to show you but Klaarg is exfoliating and is not in a good mood about having others in the ship at this time.

exile-300wThe Exile, C. T. Adams, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-3687-3, 318 pgs.

This is a story about Elfland. We have been searching for this Elfland for some time and, while we know it is mysterious and hard to find we thought for sure if we looked hard enough we would do so. Sure, Klaarg can be a bit noisy as he stumbles about but the rest of us area pretty slinky. Anyways, we have been relying on reports from your own people and while they diverge quite a bit we put that down to bad reporting on your part. In this case, Adams tells us that this fairie world can be traversed through only a few options due to some magic (we are sure it is really science just viewed by primitives) that is not really explained. The reporter in this case is one Brianna, a princess of fairie who is living in non-fairie because of her mother who was killed by—well it really matters not, only that you know that the politics in this fairie world are more brutal than your red and blue states here. Briana’s dad is king and she is evidently part of some prophecy that everyone knows but no one really speaks of. She crosses over and becomes embroiled in a political mess that she must, literally, fight her way free of.

We liked this and while it was lacking in scientific method there was plenty for us to think about and to wonder about. We’re hoping this Adams produces more of these so we can get to know this fairie world better and in more depth and, ultimately, transverse ourselves.

the-quick300wThe Quick, Lauren Owen, Random House, ISBN 978-0-8129-8343-2, 544 pgs.

Vampires. We know they are out there because you write so much about them. In this case Owen gives us a historical perspective of their kind in early London. Early for you that is since early for us is a relativistic term. We know this is a history because it jumps around following first this person and then that vampire and then this vampire hunter and so on. It’s still easy to piece things together though and to follow the goings on. The key people seem to be James Norbury a young man who ends up becoming a vampire, his sister who discovers his transformation and joins a vampire hunting team to save him, the vampire hunting team which is fastidiously making notes on everything they do and learn (and we want to get a copy of that, thank you), and the vampires themselves who seem to be in two different groups; those who believe vampirism should be for the wealthy and those who are not wealthy but vampires. And then there are the Quick, which is what vampires call humans who are not vampires. The second part of this is different from the first part, almost as if there are two histories being told here and not a singular tale. It threw us for a while, especially when the first came to intertwine with the second. Still we enjoyed this and would like to know more about this segment of your being. Did we mention this is a love history as well?

Zero-World-Cover300wZero World, by Jason M. Hough, Del Ray, ISBN 978-0-553-39126-8, 579 pgs.

We liked Hough’s previous work, The Darwin Elevator, although we were sad that Darwin did not really appear as a character. There was an elevator. This time we are being told about a spaceship that vanished a while ago being recovered and an operative being sent to figure out what has gone wrong and take action. This operative, one Peter Caswell, soon finds himself on an alternate Earth. Yes, we know we have explained this to you before but we give up. In any way, Caswell finds himself on this planet that is almost like Earth but different and, with only days to complete his mission, is put in a pretty impossible situation. But, he meets a local who is sort of working in the same direction, and the two of them start to maneuver their way across this planet in order to accomplish their goals of saving Earth, both of them. We enjoyed this, a lot, although the allegorical nature wanes with us a bit. Still, we thought the way the characters were developed was quite well done and we had problems leaving this after we started. We recommend it for sure. It’s different and has the whole spy thing going for it as well.

lightless-300wLightless, C. A, Higgens, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-553-39442-9, 288 pgs.

We are not sure about this. It might be one of your future histories, or it might be one of your galactic fantasies or it might just be a taut thriller set in space. Did we mention it might be about the singularity? Anyhow, the crew of the Ananke, an experimental space ship, are boarded by a pair of thieves, ostensibly to rob whatever they could find. This does not go well as both of the thieves are trapped and caught. One manages to get free and gets out in an escape pod. Soon the ship is boarded by a representative of the System, the overlord authority of everything and everyone. Seems that one of the thieves is a sought after criminal who may have connections to a terrorist. While the experimental ship, with its’ crew of three and state of the art computer system continues to move towards its objective the System rep begins her interrogation of the criminal known as Ivan. But, as the interrogation begins the ship’s systems begin to fail and the engineer, who relates more to the computer than to her human ship mates cannot figure out what has gone wrong. This is, we think, a metaphor for everything else and we think it is well played by this Higgens who is new to us. We think it is very aptly done and very well put together and constructed. The whole thing moves from beginning to end with a purpose and while you will no doubt catch one of the twists probably early on, the rest of them will elude you and the resulting consequences of actions will be refreshingly different. Go, buy, enjoy. We insist.

blood-infernal-300wBlood Infernal, James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell, William Morrow, ISBN 978-0-06-234326-0, 408 pgs.

This is the final, we think, maybe, maybe not, effort in this series that has been following the scourge of vampires and the priest vampires who hunt them down, some of whom were priest vampires in the past. Everything is coming to a rushing conclusion and it does not look good for the good guys. Unless you happen to think vampires are the good guys in which case you’re going to be very happy, more or less. Okay, evidently there is this blood gospel which was written by your Jesus in his own blood and which has been lost for a long time. Now it has been found and it portends the end of the world or the rise of Lucifer or the coming of the Angels, depending on who you talk to and how they see things. Most of these things do not mean good things for humans. Unless the humans figure it out and put a stop to it all. As in the previous books the group trying to decipher things in favor of humans goes hither and yon, thither and to, back and forth always a step behind and an hour late in the scheme of things. Ultimately, there is a big conflict and coming together, the end of which will decide how everything plays out. We won’t say who wins for that would not be fair. Let us just say that vampires are involved. Interesting in a contextual way and certainly enough blood and grue for all.

selfie-300wSelfie From Hell, Made by Meelah Adams, Written and Directed by Erdal Ceylan.

If you want to see what film making is all about then you need to watch this. It is less than two minutes long and it is a masterpiece of visual storytelling. And, here’s is what makes it better; you know how it’s going to end within the first fifteen seconds and the ending still gets you. We sent tendrils shooting in all directions at the conclusion and will now have to clean the newly repainted engine room. This is creepy, and atmospheric and not to be watched alone at night. We did and we are sorry. You should learn from us. We know you will not but you should. And it is perfect for this season of extortionist gift giving.

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