Tag Archives: Liu Cixin

Novelette clear out, part 2

novelette red

This is a second slew of novelette length stories. As a reminder, in case you found this blog randomly instead if following and therefore seeing the 10 other times I’ve mentioned it, I’ve Broken the wrist of my dominant hand. So, typing is slow and awkward…everything is slow and awkward. I can’t even easily click next page on the darned Kindle. However, I don’t want to stop reading or reviewing, so I’ve compromised with myself. I’m going to clear all the short stories, novelettes and novellas from my shelves, writing brief reviews of them. When the cast comes off I’ll start on books and full length reviews again.

You can go here to see those stories that were less than 39 pages long and here for those that were 40-49. This page will be 50-59 or there about. These are all approximate groupings, but I imagine you get the point. So, here we go.

Banished: The Gods Among Usby William & Pamela Deen: Simply not very good, it’s unfocused, repetitive, uses the cliche rape of a woman as nothing more than the impetus for male action, and never culminates into any sort of identifiable story.

How Ninja Brush Their Teethby R.A. Hobbs: Well, color me surprised, with a cover and title like this one I expected a humorous ninja parody at best. But it’s a genuine ninja-assassin-finds-his-humanity tale and I genuinely enjoyed it. Extra points for the kick-butt female character.

The Memory Manby Helen Smith: I would have like to have been given some answers, but I think the confusion is part of the point. It ends with as many questions as it starts with, but the story is atmospheric and interesting and I do like the circular nature of psychic communication that is hinted at.

Leximandra Reports, and other talesby Charlotte E. English: A cute introduction to the characters of Draykon, but probably only worth reading if you’re interested in the series. It is actually several vignettes and ends at 63%. The rest is a teaser or the first book in the series.

Deuce Coop: Takenby Laura Harner: I found it horribly repetitive and as a result didn’t feel like it progressed enough, especially for a serial. While I appreciated the existence of bi-sexuals, I had problems with the cliched representation of big, strapping, possessive, alpha tops and small, wispy, openly available bottoms, with no overlap. I basically thought the whole thing depended too heavily on pre-existing, M/M shortcuts. Edit: I realized after reading this that it is the book referenced in this post. I wouldn’t have read it if I remembered that it was plagiarized!

The Gatekeeper, by Heather Graham: Mildly entertaining but unexceptional in every way, as it’s all been seen and done better before.

Through The Wall, by Keri Ford: Cute if you like this sort of thing; basically just a series of mishaps leading up to sex and a HEA. Was interesting to see the woman as the aggressor (even if she did still have to be sexually inexperienced and clumsy in her seduction to maintain “good girl” status) while the man held off for more.

A God To Wed Her, by Y.L. Abraham: The first Abraham work I’ve read that was a complete story, instead of a serial (which is a positive). But I’m afraid I just didn’t care for it. I found it trite, with very little development and inconsistent characterization.

Stripped, by Christina Stoke: Bad. It was bad, people. Basically porn with plot, but bad porn. Two people get stranded on a hostile alien planet during a war and are being actively hunted. So they have lots of bad BDSM sex…obviously. It’s what you do, right? Worse, he’s predominantly turned on by the fact that he has complete control of this woman and she has no escape. The reader is reminded of this repeatedly. He claims her and initiates sex without her consent. Then, he viscously spanks and whips her without her knowing why and as she begs him to stop. This is not kinky sex. This is abuse. Period. All exacerbated by bad writing that ends so abruptly it is literally in the middle of a sex scene.

Touching Ghost, by Regina Carlysle: Basically all sex, of the raunchy, ‘ram it home’ and ‘pound away’ sort. I thought the language crude and unappealing, especially since it was supposed to be romantic instead of faceless f-ing. It was also repetitive, as phrases were oft reused from scene to scene. All talk of patriotism and the SEALs also felt artificial and stilted, more like how a recruiting pamphlet reads than how soldiers/navy-men would talk about themselves. Despite being a part of a series the book stood alone.

Of Ants and Dinosaurs, by Liu Cixin: More of fable than anything else, but it had an interesting theme/lesson, even if I fond the reading a bit dull.

The Cog Work Apprentice in Dark Skiesby Lee William Tisler: A random town is randomly attacked, so a random boy runs around randomly encountering random people and doing random things until the story randomly ends. Meh.

The Sentinel, by Eden Winters: It’s kinda like a sweet version of Kurt Russell’s Soldier (1998), if the baddies never showed up. I liked the first half better than the last half and thought there were some inconsistencies that niggled at me. But mostly I liked it.

Deep Currents, by Marie Brown: Not at all what I expected, but I quite enjoyed it. Well, written with snappy dialogue.

End of the World, by S.A. Archer: Interesting and well enough written, but really just a prologue to the series. No real merit on its own.

novelette clear out


I had planned to do this all in one post, but I obviously underestimated how many shorts I have. Do those things breed in the cloud, you think? Anyhow, I basically just started with the shortest and have been reading them in order of length, skipping anything that’s part of a series I have the rest of. You can go here to see those that were between 15 and 39 pages in length. I’m picking up 40-50 pages here, which technically puts us in novelette territory. I suspect I’ll need a second or third post to get them all in, so I’m breaking them up by 10s. (These are mere approximations, of course.)

As a reminder of why I’m doing this: it’s difficult to type with a broken arm, so I’m concentrating on things I can write short reviews of.

The Nog Sistersby Ian Fraser: Much better than I expected. Complete stand alone story that’s a bit like Peter Pan in that children could read it and not grasp some of the adult inferences (which were my favorite parts). I wouldn’t call it a children’s story though. Good for making readers think about the importance of perspective.

A Calling for Pleasure (Damned If You Do)by J.L. Merrow: Really cute and hot. Extra points for Rael’s tail and being a freebie, but minus for the cliched ‘scorned woman turns murderous’ schtick.

The Witch Who Made Adjustmentsby Vera Nazarian: I enjoyed it quite a bit. Tommy was delightful and I liked the witch’s calm demeanor in the face of the town people’s anger.

The High King’s Golden Tongueby Megan Derr: Cute and well-written, as has been everything I’ve read by Derr. This one was a bit sappy for me and I’d have liked a bit more development in the relationship.

Angel All Yearby Sally Clements: Meh, rushed, overly romantic, uses pointless misunderstanding as the climactic event and has odd word usage. Didn’t light my fire, not even a little bit.

Daywalker: The Beginningby Tessa Dawn: Meh, ok, I guess, if you’re into snarky heroines. I thought there was too much unnecessary background that was obviously meant for the future series and not enough meat to the story itself and I dislike sudden understanding and success with a power a character never knew they had until that moment. Not much point to reading it unless you plan on reading the rest of the series, which isn’t out. So…

A Very Sacrati Christmas… or Late Wintermas, by Kate Sherwood: Super cute. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the book (Sacrati).

The Trouble With Troubleby Kathleen Lee: It was ok, cute, but a little too heavy on the ‘been hurt before so can’t get close to another human.’ I thought dude who wouldn’t take no for an answer was a little creepy and I thought the ‘jump to worst conclusion, react without verification’ schtick was cliched. It also ended with the pre-2015 m/m romance version of a wedding proposal, which was too pat for a short story.

The Whalerby Steve Roach: Kept me interested and is a complete, stand-alone tale.

Rorie, by L.L. Loremir: Can’t say this one was a winner. Rushed, far too wordy, too much sex, and repetitive. Rorie’s name isn’t even introduced until 43% and even then authors insistence on calling him ‘the royal,’ ‘the nymphling,’ ‘the half-nymph,’ ‘the young man,’ etc was infuriating. ‘The royal’ is the worst though. The story is only 43  pages long and the word royal is used 116 times!

Mountainby Liu Cixin: Not my favorite Liu Cixin so far. Creative & science heavy, as always, but felt very much like it focused on the unimportant in the face of other, wider-scale, more important things. It did eventually culminate in an interesting epiphany for the MC though.

Something Realby Julia Alaric: A little rushed toward the end, but cute. Two awkward geek boys (one maybe a little asperger’sy) meet and find love on an international space station.

Savage Possession, by Moira Rogers: Basically just Porn With Plot, but I thought it fairly un-erotic. Too much indelicate pounding and what I consider ugly language. Plus, I thought the bondage made no sense in context and the ‘romance’ felt unsupported. I did think it interesting that they were at war with the humans. Don’t find many stories about our enemies.

Spirit Flightby Jory Strong: Literally, almost ALL sex, from start to finish. Ugly wording and I marked several passages with variations of ‘what does that even mean’ or ‘how does a XXX even do that?’ Far too much emphasis on male ownership and far too little female agency in evidence.

The Last Rebellionby Lisa Henry: I am super conflicted about this one. Marvelously written, and I’m told true to the prompt, but so much rape and torture that I just felt bad reading it. And outside of Stockholm Syndrome, I just don’t get the men’s eventual actions. But the magic of FICTION is that sometimes the last chapters can absolve the first and the book, as a whole, can simultaneously be horrifying and gratifying. By the end I was enjoying it.

Vampire Slave, by Yamila Abraham: I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. I’ve read the beginning of several of Abraham’s stories now and I have the exact same response to all of them. I always get sucked in by the manga-like covers (this, like the others, is not manga or yaoi BTW) and enjoy the writing and characters but HATE the serialization. This is not a complete anything, not a complete story, not a complete chapter. It’s barely a start and I’m not about to pay, what ends up an exorbitant amount, to finish it. Even having said all that, this is not my favorite of their works.

Chances Are, by Lee Brazil: I quite enjoyed it and would be interested in continuing the series, though there seemed to be a lot of missing back story. I don’t really understand the whole Pulp Fiction, four overlapping series thing but I simultaneously liked seeing the characters from Wicked Solutions and Triple Threat here and am annoyed at the chaotic reading order it creates. But I liked the story.

Wicked Solutionsby Havan Fellows: I quite enjoyed it and would be interested in continuing the series, though there seemed to be a lot of missing back story. I don’t really understand the whole Pulp Fiction, four overlapping series thing but I simultaneously liked seeing the characters from Chances Are and Triple Threat here and am annoyed at the chaotic reading order it creates. But I liked the story.

Triple Threatby Laura Harner: I quite enjoyed it and would be interested in continuing the series, though there seemed to be a lot of missing back story. I don’t really understand the whole Pulp Fiction, four* overlapping series thing but I simultaneously liked seeing the characters from Chances Are and Wicked Solutions and am annoyed at the chaotic reading order it creates. But I liked the story.

*Technically this is four overlapping, five book series (20 stories + a joint conclusion) but I only have the first of 3.

The Three-Body Problem

Book Review of The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin

The Three-Body ProblemI borrowed a copy of Liu Cixin‘s The Three-Body Problem from my hubs.

Description from Goodreads:
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

This is actually my husband’s book. He received it as a gift from a friend who happens to be from China, with the explanation that ‘it is very popular at home.’ I have read a few of Liu Cixin’s short stories (They show up on the Amazon free list occasionally.) so I knew it would be interesting.

Honestly, I can see why it is a bestseller in China. I can. But equally as honestly, this book didn’t do it for me. I often find Chinese to English translation read very dryly and this is no exception. (I’m pretty sure this is a cultural characteristic of Chinese writing.) But the book is also very slow to get going.

The first half feels very random and though the end does tie it all together, I still spent 200 pages wondering what was going on. None of this is helped by the fact that it is very science heavy. Everything is explained well, but I didn’t particularly enjoy sciences lessons.

Then, in the last half, when things do finally pick up I found myself irked about something else entirely. It’s hard to address without a spoiler of some sort, but the POV shifts somewhere new and that POV feels far too human. We’re told repeatedly that we don’t know what they’re like, but everything about them presents as human when it really shouldn’t have.

All of the characters are also very thin. However, there are some interesting ones. Da Shi is one of the best anti-heroes I’ve come across in a while and I appreciated Ye Weing’s flat affect.

I’ve heard that the 2nd and 3rd books are better than this one and if I happen across them I’d read them. But I’m not rushing out to buy them. This was just an OK read for me.