29 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Retribution (Mass Effect #3) by Drew Karpyshyn

Retribution (Mass Effect, #3)Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Humanity has reached the stars, joining the vast galactic community of alien species. But beyond the fringes of explored space lurk the Reapers, a race of sentient starships bent on “harvesting” the galaxy’s organic species for their own dark purpose.

The Illusive Man, leader of the pro-human black ops group Cerberus, is one of the few who know the truth about the Reapers. To ensure humanity’s survival, he launches a desperate plan to uncover the enemy’s strengths—and weaknesses—by studying someone implanted with modified Reaper technology. He knows the perfect subject for his horrific experiments: former Cerberus operative Paul Grayson, who wrested his daughter from the cabal’s control with the help of Ascension project director Kahlee Sanders.

But when Kahlee learns that Grayson is missing, she turns to the only person she can trust: Alliance war hero Captain David Anderson. Together they set out to find the secret Cerberus facility where Grayson is being held. But they aren’t the only ones after him. And time is running out.

As the experiments continue, the sinister Reaper technology twists Grayson’s mind. The insidious whispers grow ever stronger in his head, threatening to take over his very identity and unleash the Reapers on an unsuspecting galaxy.

A rating so well deserved, and probably the most 'unputdownable' book of the series so far. The action is non-stop and the overall plot really opens up. I did find the scale of the story to be a little smaller than the previous novels, but the excellent action more than made up for it. I find myself really torn between the Illusive Man and the rest of Alliance society. The xenophobic cult that is Cerberus, at least, are trying to combat the lurking threat of the Reapers while elsewhere the 'myth' is suppressed and nothing is done. I'm guessing that more unconventional pacts and alliances are formed in the next book to really have a crack at the Reapers. That said, I've read some not-so-positive reviews of book four, claims that it errs somewhat from the established plot. However, Dietz is a fine author so I'm sure it's not all that bad. I think I will read it.

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23 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Earth: An Alien Enterprise: The Shocking Truth Behind the Greatest Cover-Up in Human History by Timothy Good

Earth: An Alien Enterprise: The Shocking Truth Behind the Greatest Cover-Up in Human HistoryEarth: An Alien Enterprise: The Shocking Truth Behind the Greatest Cover-Up in Human History by Timothy Good
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This fascinating new volume tells the story of contact between aliens and humans from all across the globe, dating back to 1932, including meetings with military personnel and American presidents such as Eisenhower and Kennedy.

For the first time, a former member of MI6 reveals her conversation with Neil Armstrong at a NASA conference, when he confirmed that there were "other" spacecraft on the Moon when Apollo 11 landed in 1969. Armstrong also confirmed that the CIA was behind the cover-up.

In a further admission in December 2012, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev revealed that "the president of Russia is given a special top secret folder [that] in its entirety contains information about aliens who have visited our planet. Along with this, the president is given a report of the Special Service that exercises control over aliens in our country. I will not tell you how many of them are among us because it may cause panic."

A very interesting book, this one. The basic premise is that Earth is being visited (and has been for some time) by numerous extraterrestrial races who are watching us very closely, and in some cases, taking an active role in manipulating events from behind the scenes. According to Good, the governments of our larger countries are in deep with these races.
There is a detailed story of an Royal Air Force airman who is involved with the care and keeping of two ET beings that I found fascinating. Also, the information allegedly given by Neil Armstrong about the Apollo missions encountering alien craft on the surface of the moon was enlightening. This might explain some of the cryptic statements that Armstrong made during his rare appearances over the years.
The book covers most of the well known alien visitation and abduction stories as well as a few accounts and theories that I had not heard of before, and I think that it would be a good book for those who are new to this subject.
Overall a good read and well written, highly recommended for those with open minds and those who question the information that we are supplied with by our governments.

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20 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Starship Summer by Eric Brown

Starship Summer  (Starship Seasons, #1)Starship Summer by Eric Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of David Conway and his new life on Chalcedony, a planet renowned for its Golden Column, an artifact that is mysterious and strange, no one knowing why it is present there. Conway meets some locals in the town of Magenta Bay and buys an old starship from Hawksworth, who runs a scrap yard in the town full of old and disused starships. Conway sets up the ship on his land and uses it as his home, but the presence of what can only be described as an alien ghost starts a string of events that lead to a revelation that will change everything for humanity.

I've said it before, Eric Brown fails to disappoint again with what is probably the best sci-fi novella that I've read to date. I can't quite work out an exact reason why I love this story so much, but maybe it's just the wonderful combination of setting, characters and storyline that does it. I ended up feeling a connection with every member of the cast, people who share a common bond in that they're running from their pasts and the demons therein. Brown relies on his often used 'burnt out' main character that he does so well and I love the way he builds the character relationships. I found myself almost wanting to be a character in this story and therefore was drawn in easily. A bloody good yarn and the perfect length with a great triumphant conclusion, a fine example of why the short forms suit this genre so well. I am now suitably eager to devour the other three novellas of the 'Starship Seasons' series. Eric Brown writes fantastic stuff, it's as simple as that.

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18 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet (Brian's Saga, #1)Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brian Robertson, sole passenger on a Cessna 406, is on his way to visit his father when the tiny bush plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. With nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present, Brian finds himself completely alone.
Challenged by his fear and despair -- and plagued with the weight of a dreadful secret he's been keeping since his parent's divorce -- brian must tame his inner demons in order to survive. It will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed.

I read this book alongside my son for a school project and I actually really enjoyed it. While carrying the burden of a secret about his mother's affair, 13 year old Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash who has to survive in the harsh Canadian forest. He learns how to spear fish, gather turtle eggs and make fire, all with the help of a small hatchet that his mother gave him before he left on his ill-fated journey. The universe throws heaps at poor Brian, but eventually he is able to salvage a survival kit from the wreckage of the plane. He unwittingly sets off the emergency locator transmitter and is rescued shortly after. The lessons he learns over his 54 day survival effort will stand this lad in good stead. A great little book that is aimed at young adults and has a strong message of determination and keeping your head in tough times.

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17 November 2013

Run your car with a water-hydrogen converter

If you're interested, HERE are instructions for converting your motor vehicle into a water burning hybrid. Not sure yet if this system utilizes the effect of cardinal grammeters or uses the combined effect of nova-trunnions in conjunction with sinusoidal Dingle arms to achieve the desired goal. Have a look. Might save you some money..?

15 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Two novellas by Brad R. Torgersen

OutboundOutbound by Brad R. Torgersen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The award-winning science fiction novelette from award-winning writer Brad R. Torgersen. "Outbound" first appeared in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, going on to earn the praise of readers and authors alike.

Upon reading this novella, one can most certainly appreciate why it has been so successful - it's really, really good. Full of heart and soul, it's an emotional roller coaster like I've never experienced before in a science fiction story. Not without Torgersen's trademark hard sci-fi elements, the story is one of love and loss, pain and hope and, above all, humanity. Read it, you'll love it.


Ray of LightRay of Light by Brad R. Torgersen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not your typical tale of alien invasion or apocalypse, "Ray of Light" is the story of Max and Jenna Leighton, father and daughter, trapped by catastrophe in the last place on Earth humans have been able to survive an endless, sunless night.

A really superb story that tells of human survival and hope. The post-apocalyptic theme is a little different and the finish is full of wonder and excitement. I felt really absorbed into this story while reading it and found it very enjoyable. Torgersen never fails to impress me with his work, he seamlessly blends science, humanity and faith together superbly.

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14 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Mass Effect: Ascension (Mass Effect #2) by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect: Ascension (Mass Effect, #2)Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When they vanished fifty thousand years ago, the Protheans left their advanced technology scattered throughout the galaxy. The chance discovery of a Prothean cache on Mars allows humanity to join those already reaping the rewards of the ancients’ high-tech wizardry. But for one rogue militia, the goal is not participation but domination.

Scientist Kahlee Sanders has left the Systems Alliance for the Ascension Project, a program that helps gifted “biotic” children harness their extraordinary powers. The program’s most promising student is twelve-year-old Gillian Grayson, who is borderline autistic. What Kahlee doesn’t know is that Gillian is an unwitting pawn of the outlawed black ops group Cerberus, which is sabotaging the program by conducting illegal experiments on the students.

When the Cerberus plot is exposed, Gillian’s father takes her away from the Ascension Project and flees into the lawless Terminus Systems. Determined to protect Gillian, Kahlee goes with them… unaware that the elder Grayson is, in fact, a Cerberus operative. To rescue the young girl Kahlee must travel to the farthest ends of the galaxy, battling fierce enemies and impossible odds. But how will she be able to save a daughter from her own father?

The second Mass Effect novel continues on from the first in a similar manner; fast-paced and massively intriguing. While it's not until quite late in the book that the story line realigns with the first book, you can see how the Mass Effect plot as a whole is building, and building well. There are some major events that have happened between the two books, but these are covered in good enough detail for us to fill in the gap and the books fit together well enough.

The story follows Kahlee Sanders from book one (Mass Effect: Revelation) but takes place a few years after the events of that book. We learn more about some of the species that inhabit the galaxy and their history, particularly the Quarians and the Migrant Fleet, who play a major role in this book. You really start to get a sense of the wider story, of a menace lurking out there in the darkness of space (Reapers?) ready to pounce upon the mostly unsuspecting galactic community. However, it seems that there are some factions of various races who seem to know or suspect more, and are secretly trying to prepare a defense, or at least for a way to ensure their species' survival. The only reason I didn't five-star this one was because mid-way through the story felt like it dragged a bit, lost it's pace. This said, it comes back and redeems itself with a great ending that, again, is very satisfactory yet leaves the way clear for the next installment in the series.
I absolutely love Drew Karpyshyn's writing style and, once again, he delivers a story with great world-building, characterization and action scenes. A superb sci-fi action series, and I disagree with some other reviewers in that I don't think it's necessary to be familiar with the Mass Effect games to appreciate the story, not at all. I have really enjoyed this series so far with nil exposure to the games. Books are way better anyway;-)

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12 November 2013

On the Growth of Fantasy and the Waning of Science Fiction

Here is an excellent essay by SF author Brad R. Torgersen that looks at how and why modern science fiction is losing ground to the fantasy genre.
I didn't realize that SF was in decline and giving way to fantasy, but the sales numbers apparently show that this is indeed the case. Here Torgersen offers his views on why this is happening, and I think that he's right on the money.
The essay was originally published on the Writers of the Future web site and reprinted in Torgersen's excellent short story compilation Lights in the Deep.

Please click on the links above to check out Torgersen's website and some of his work. He is one of my favorite authors and I look forward to much, much more from him in the future, maybe a novel or two as well.


On the Growth of Fantasy and the Waning of Science Fiction
Copyright © 2012
Brad R. Torgersen

It may seem a bit ironic for an author who primarily perpetrates Science Fiction to then turn around and talk about how Fantasy is eclipsing its cousin. Nevertheless, the writing (pun intended) is on the wall: the fantastic is outpacing the speculative, both in the written arts, and in television and motion pictures. Whether it’s the explosive popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, or Stephanie Meyer’s ultra-hot Twilight—both of which earned hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars at the box office in 2011, on top of print revenue—or the timeless and enduring power of J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal Middle-Earth saga, as told in The Hobbit and the three volumes in The Lord of the Rings. Fantasy has come into its own as a phenomenally successful creative and commercial enterprise, while Science Fiction has drifted on the consumer seas—falling back into niche popularity, where it first began.

Granted, the television and motion picture industry does its best to keep Science Fiction afloat. Movies like Avatar, Tron: Legacy and Transformers all performed incredibly well with recent audiences. There have also been prolific small-screen series like Dr. Who, Stargate, and Battlestar Galactica. Not to mention the time-tested Star Trek and Star Wars franchises, which so revolutionized both the fantastic and the speculative on big and small screens, that no fantastic or speculative program can emerge in the 21st century without first tipping its hat to these ground-breaking 20th century forerunners.

So how come Science Fiction in print continues to see its sales steadily slipping? Where are the ‘skiffy’ equivalents of Twilight and Harry Potter? Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games has come forward as a very-strong example of Science Fiction that’s hitting home runs with both readers and—potentially—movie-goers. But The Hunger Games is more of an anomaly than a rule. In fact, Science Fiction’s all-time bestselling novel, Dune, was written almost half a century ago. Runners-up, such as Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game were written approximately thirty years ago, and when one does straw polls at writing conferences—to see how many people are doing Science Fiction versus Fantasy—the numbers of hands raised for Fantasy (especially Young Adult Fantasy) are overwhelmingly in the majority.

I think this is a problem.

I’m not proposing that Science Fiction is dying or is about to be shuffled off the bookshelves and dumped into the returns bin. It is not. Rather, I’d like to offer a theory or two: as to why Fantasy is so tremendously and energetically embraced, while Science Fiction has to work harder to interest and retain a much smaller segment of the readership, if not always the viewership. At which point I will end with a suggestion for possible remedy.

Firstly, the audience of the Anglosphere—and much of Europe and Asia too—is living in a “science fictional” time. Unlike the 1930s, we enjoy a gadgetized and digitally-instant, globally-interconnected society. Much of what was speculative in the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction, is mundane reality for us today, to include wireless cell phone communication, wireless computing, wholesale mass storage and distribution of data, and much else that most First World citizens can take for granted, including rapid and affordable transit, mass production and distribution of consumer goods, not to mention satellite television, the International Space Station, and reliable ground-to-orbit transportation operating in multiple countries.

Thus the 21st century reader has a bit of a blind spot for Science Fiction in ways his or her grandparents did not. When the Golden Age was under way, it was still common for many rural households to lack the kind of plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electricity that many of us in our time consider to be basic essentials. Our science has literally made the fiction into reality, thus the “magical” shine of what was once dreamed of in the Golden Age, has slowly faded into the hum-drum of every-day existence.

Secondly, the reality of science and the emergence of a science-dependent, technological society—as different from 17th and 18th-century pastoral and agrarian times as the Roman Empire was from pre-historic tribal life—has somewhat robbed modernity of the mysticism and sense of otherworldly wonder that most of our ancestors had. So that while the emergence of modern science—courtesy of the Enlightenment, and all that followed on—has given us an amazing and vital number of improvements, not the least of which are medicine, electricity, mechanical means of performing laborious and repetitive tasks, and an explosion in both life spans and the amount of time freed for leisure, science has also effectively pulled the curtain back on much which was previously mysterious and otherwise attributable to the Divine.

There are no more Gods, no more Devils, no more Angels nor Demons, and also no more magic—the intangible sense that there are deeper forces and destinies at work in the universe; the clashing of cosmic Goods and Evils.

Yet, as humans, we still long for these things. Well, a good many of us long for them, anyway. I believe that part of the reason why Fantasy continues to swell and Science Fiction has somewhat shriveled, is that Fantasy is a genre where we as a society can recapture what we miss: wizards and warlocks and necromancers, Dark Forces allied to battle the numerically-inferior but heroic Light Forces, and above all else a sense that life has meaning and purpose beyond the merely material, or the tangible. That there is a universal justice operating in the world, and while it is not always readily-accessible or apparent, it exists just the same. Not all is random. Not every meaning is a man-made, artificially-imposed meaning.

Consider Star Wars, which still ranks as one of the most financially-dominant film franchises of all time. Ostensibly technological—spaceships, laser guns, robots with artificial intelligence, interstellar travel—Star Wars survives and thrives not because it’s a picture of a very-advanced, polyglot interstellar civilization, but because Star Wars uses that civilization as a canvas for what is, essentially, a classically-legendary tale about Cosmic Good and Cosmic Evil. There is magic—in the form of The Force—and there are both good and evil wizards—in the form of the Jedi and the Sith. Seemingly random events often have the scent of deep destiny about them, and the technological aspects of Star Wars often take a back seat during Star Wars’ most triumphant—and tragic—moments.

Consider also the Dune saga, begun with the novel of the same name. Much like Star Wars, Dune is a story about a very-advanced, almost super-technological future interstellar society. But also like Star Wars, Dune is a story about mystical forces, the coming of a messianic savior, events which seem predestined and foretold, the triumph of ordered good over chaos and evil, and more deeply, how these triumphs can sometimes presage an even greater evil amidst even greater chaos. And so forth. Not technological themes at all. The Spice Melange is as otherworldly and magical as any tincture brewed by Merlin in the court at Camelot, and Paul Atreides is very much an Arthurian figure: the boy-king come to set the world to rights, and unify the land. At least for a short time.

Even the movie Avatar relies on mysticism and legendary aspect for its success, since all the stunning 3D special effects in the world could not have held up a plot sustained purely by natives-versus-invaders. Jake Sully is another Paul Atreides: a young outlander who must first prove himself to the Na’vi (Fremen) and then master the Toruk sky dragons (sand worms) before leading the Na’vi (Fremen) against the corporatized and despotic, not to mention debased and immoral, Company with its mercenaries (Harkonnens and the Imperial Sarduakar) seeking to strip Pandora (Arrakis) of its singularly-vital commodity, Unobtanium (Melange.)

In each case, both Dune and Avatar employ fantastic story elements and underpinnings to tell what are essentially fantastic and legend-like tales. The technology that infuses both is merely a vehicle for the deeper, more mystical (spiritual?) elements which are both present and apparent—if you look for them.

Yet, Science Fiction has staked its claim as the anti-mystical genre. A great many of its practitioners are outspoken or otherwise avowed secularists. As are a great many of Science Fiction’s fans—not all of whom share an overlapping love for Fantasy, the way many Fantasy fans share an overlapping love for Sci-Fi. So it’s perhaps not surprising then that much of the Science Fiction being written in the 21st century concerns itself strictly with materialistic concerns: climate change, global warming, the decay of governments and the onset of dystopian hegemony, or anarchy, and an overriding message that humans are small, flawed, puny creatures living on a small, flawed, puny planet in a lost corner of a gargantuan galaxy, which is itself lost in still some other corner of the much greater and enormous universe.

True or not—I won’t debate the evidence, one way or another—this “small” view of the human being is often at odds with the “large” view offered in works like The Lord of the Rings. In fact, Tolkien’s main thrust in the telling of the tales of Middle-Earth seems to be that even the smallest of us can have the most vital importance, and that great deeds and great destinies await even the most unlikely and innocent of people. Bilbo and Frodo are the “everymen” of the world, thrust quite against their wills into a wider, more dangerous arena. Doubtless Tolkien would dislike the application of allegory, since he is on record as having stated that he disliked allegory in his time and especially disliked seeing it draped over his books. Still, I think the point is made: the most timeless and successful and memorable Fantasy work of the last 100 years is a work which takes humble, ordinary folk and sets them up as extraordinary and heroic.

Science Fiction? Science Fiction often seems less sure about its mission. Since the so-called New Wave which brought literary aspects to the genre, Science Fiction—at least in print—has gradually become more and more concerned with the meaninglessness of life, the random and even hopeless nature of our existence, and while the vistas and landscapes offered can only be described as wondrous and vast, the impact on the human psyche is often the opposite: we do not matter, we are not important, nothing of us has any great impact on the universe, therefore the only meaning available to us is that which we create artificially, and then often with much struggle and ultimate futility.

Orson Scott Card’s memorable and famous novel, Ender’s Game, breaks from this significantly. Ender Wiggin being much like Paul Atreides and Jake Sully: the young “changer” who overturns the tables of the “game”, while vanquishing great evil in the process. Card goes one step further in that the Buggers have their time, too. In fact much of the Ender saga concerns itself with the ramifications of what Ender does in the first book, and how Ender—and humanity—seek redemption when faced with a very terrible—sinful?—legacy. So, in that sense, Ender’s Game is not about the war with the Formics. It is not even about the (current, by our standards) remotely-operated video-game-like nature of future war in space. It’s about the desperation of survival against the odds, and the realization that sometimes the ends do not necessarily justify the means; that even heroes have much for which they should atone. In one form, or another.

It is often said of the Writers of the Future Contest that Science Fiction stories have a better chance of succeeding than Fantasy stories, and this is true. But only because Fantasy is so popular with many new writers that the amount of Fantasy received by the judges is larger than the amount of Science Fiction.

I suspect this is because Fantasy is a more accessible and emotionally-meaningful genre for new writers, many of whom have grown up steeped in the Fantastic most of their lives. Books, movies, and sometimes television: Fantasy stories and Fantasy tales which elevate the human being to an important place in the world, in much the same way all children and teenagers wish to be elevated—and all “ordinary” men and women, too. Thus when a new writer sits down and thinks, “Aha, I shall enter this Contest and win,” he or she is much more likely to start with Fantasy. It’s the familiar thing, and it’s the thing about which new writers most naturally feel compelled to tell meaningful stories.

It’s harder with Science Fiction. Seventy years ago, the mere act of landing on the Moon possessed its own meaning: it was an imagined technological triumph foretold in an era replete with technological triumphs, all mounting towards a transformation of society and the human condition. But now? We landed on the Moon, and we came back, and despite all of our numerous technological and material advantages in our time, society and the human condition aren’t that much different. In fact, we seem to be more ourselves than ever before.

I think that perhaps Science Fiction’s road has taken it down an uneasily-traveled path. The number of readers for whom a Fantastic tale like Harry Potter is meaningful is much larger than the number of readers for whom a Science Fiction tale like John Varley’s Steel Beach is meaningful. And while the combined effort of Science Fiction and Fantasy is made richer and more complex by the Steel Beach books of the co-genre, I also suggest that pursuing a Steel Beach course—while seeing the readership peel away and find interest in happier, maybe even simpler imaginary lands—is problematic at best. Science Fiction won’t survive forever if all but the most hard-core readers decide that there’s just not enough emotional (moral?) uplift in Science Fiction for them to keep reading it.

In order for Science Fiction to have value and meaning—to say nothing of an audience—I think it could stand to go back to the “mythic” tropes more than it has of late. Re-explore some of the more classic, more time-honored themes. Re-elevate the human to a place of dignity and power. Re-embrace themes that are hopeful, optimistic, perhaps even spiritual in nature. The movie industry seems to have it: they have profited mightily from exploiting Science Fiction’s sunny-side disposition and prognostication. I think Science Fiction writers could do similarly, but first it’s going to take a little unconventional thinking, and a willingness to break with established preconceptions about what Science Fiction is for, the kinds of stories you can and cannot tell, and having the courage to know when it’s worth it to be optimistic—even when scientific evidence or political reality or industry forces may dictate otherwise.

02 November 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Mass Effect: Revelation (Mass Effect #1) by Drew Karpyshyn

Mass Effect: Revelation (Mass Effect, #1)Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every advanced society in the galaxy relies on the technology of the Protheans, an ancient species that vanished fifty thousand years ago. After discovering a cache of Prothean technology on Mars in 2148, humanity is spreading to the stars; the newest interstellar species, struggling to carve out its place in the greater galactic community.

On the edge of colonized space, ship commander and Alliance war hero David Anderson investigates the remains of a top secret military research station; smoking ruins littered with bodies and unanswered questions. Who attacked this post and for what purpose? And where is Kahlee Sanders, the young scientist who mysteriously vanished from the base–hours before her colleagues were slaughtered?

Sanders is now the prime suspect, but finding her creates more problems for Anderson than it solves. Partnered with a rogue alien agent he can’t trust and pursued by an assassin he can’t escape, Anderson battles impossible odds on uncharted worlds to uncover a sinister conspiracy . . . one he won’t live to tell about. Or so the enemy thinks.

This book is good, very good. I am not at all familiar with the Mass Effect games, but I'd seen a few of the comics around the place to be curious enough to check out the novels. I'm really impressed with this one, the first of four shortish novels in a segment of four. The plot is really cool with action aplenty and intrigue with various species competing for control in a vast galactic empire, of which humanity is the newest member. It's sort of like a sci-fi thriller/mystery with nice twists and turns, and some cool combat sequences. While it's true that much of the book could be called 'typical' action science fiction, that's good, very good, because Drew Karpyshyn executes these tropes perfectly. I love stories that have interstellar travel, exotic worlds with mysterious alien races and ancient artifacts, etc., all that good sci-fi stuff that this book (and hopefully the following books, too) has in abundance. I love it.

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