Tag Archives: sci-fi

Review of All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), by Martha Wells

I borrowed Martha WellsAll Systems Red from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Review:
Really quite marvelous. I love that you could feel how uncomfortable SecUnit was with people, how it was completely badass but also fragile. The book was fairly spare on the world building, but there was just enough to position the story. And I 100% approve of SecUnit’s decision at the end. I can’t wait to read more of this series. Tor continues to wow me with each new book I read and Martha Wells is on my radar.

Review of Learning to Want, by Tami Veldura

I think I picked Tami Velbura‘s Learning to Want up in a Instrafreebie giveaway. It was certainly something along those lines.

Description from Goodreads:
Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Review:
So, I found my experience with Learning to Want mixed at best. Picking up a book about a master/slave relationship (and not one in which characters play master or slave, but a real one in which one is actually owned by the other) is always an iffy proposition. Add to the mix that the enslaved character was a free black man, even if the enslaving character is black scaled (he’s still of the dominant, slave owning culture) is an uncomfortable echo of recent Western history. Though, if this was just the authors attempt to include some diversity I have to appreciate the effort.

There was just a lot of squink around the edges of the story. Even the Ohiri, the perfectly bland race that entered enslavement willingly and was supposed to be an example of unproblematic slavery, were raised from birth to submission. There willingness was coerced at best and they’re completely dismissed in the book. Background fodder, basically.

But my main issue is that, with the exception of transport in the beginning, which we’re told was 20+ days, but we don’t see, the whole book is about a week. In that time a free man was captured, molested, sold at auction, fondled some more (with some dubious consent), introduced to BDSM (which was really JUST SPANKING), come to NEED it, fallen in love, accepted and appreciated his ‘collar and cuffs’ (a euphemism of slavery), performed a perfect power-play sex ‘scene’ in front of hundreds, formed a soul bond and lived happily ever after (as a slave). And I was just like, “Ummmm, uh-uh. No way. We have skimmed over some major trauma here.”

Some books have a magic peen, where someone has sex one time and everything is magically perfect in the plot. This book had a magic paddle. One spanking and Khoram released all his guilt over being a drug dealing slaver in the past and accepted his lot as a sexual slave, craved it even. NO. Big fat No.

This book seemed to want to have both slaves and consent in the same people. In fact, that the slave must consent is stated more than once by characters in the book, seriously stressed even. And that just can’t work. It can’t. Veldura tried real hard, but IT DOES NOT WORK.

The writing is fine. In fact there are the occasional turns of phrase that are really beautiful. And the editing didn’t stand out as problematic. But the plot did. It is too rushed and the ‘free and consenting slave’ is an impossibility that Veldura failed to make feel anything but icky. As fluff, ok it’s fine. I could even like it. But think even the smallest amount about the plot and the whole thing collapses in on itself.

Review of Dalí, by E.M. Hamill

I purchased a copy of E. M. Hamill‘s Dali. I believe I got it straight from the publisher, Nine Star Press.

Description from Goodreads:
Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

Review:
I gotta admit, it took a while for me to get into this. The beginning felt a little like I’d been dropped into the middle of something. (I actually double checked this wasn’t a sequel to anything.) But once it got rolling, I really enjoyed it. I liked Dali. I liked the side characters. I liked Rhix. I liked the plot. I just basically enjoyed it.

Other than feeling lost in the beginning, my only complaints are that there were a number of convenient coincidences and I really wanted more resolution on the Dali/Rhix front. Those seeking romance might finish this disappointed. I however, am hoping there might be a second book coming at some point.