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normb’s book reviews

Oh Boy, don't be a captured political prisoner in this story. The immortal Managerials send you to the moon where you have to lead a totally conditioned life like Sisyphus in hell. How to get free. The prisoners all try suicide. But it doesn't work, because they have been made immortal too, and every time one kills himself, they reconstitute him. See what happens as this creative prisoner finds a way around the problem.
You think teens lives are complicated now with cell phones, facebook, Ipods etc. Try to imagine what it would be like coming of age circa 2160. Mind feeds, fingernail communicators etc. Mariska will be an adult at age 14, next year. She has to deal with all the confusion of teen age and come to grips with her concerned family, and also with her genetics, which are programmed to "go deep" as a space explorer. Good story; you'll relate to the characters and their stories.
With new and powerful weapons of mass destruction, Civilian and military leaders at odds, a planetary war in progress; all the good intentions and superb strategy may come to nothing in preventing total disaster. Unless....the situation gets to the point where cooperation can finally be sought to utilize the assets remaining to prevent extinction.
Very well crafted military SF

Simon Dodds is on leave from his duty as a Confederation stellar navy fighter pilot working for his father running an apple orchard. It's not all good. He is on forced leave after a court martial for trying to be a hero and disobeying orders. His reckless actions resulted in the death of 2 civilians.

A dying stellar navy pilot inexplicably winds up on his doorstep with gunshot wounds, and begs not to tell the navy or authorities about him just before he dies.

In the middle of the investigation of the pilot's death, Simon is suddenly recalled because there is a crisis. The political situation is convoluted, but the Confederation is being attacked by the Imperium which itself is embroiled in what appears to be a civil war.

Simon is sworn to secrecy about the dying pilot and rejoins the fighter force in time to train with his old squadron mates in a new, highly classified fighter.....but there is a lot more to the new fighter, the conflict, and what is ultimately in store for him and his squadron.

Comment: Fast paced with interesting characters. A good read, though the story wanders a bit trying to identify with and explore the nature of the major characters.
A stalemate war with the Yuks, a strange alien culture that uses organic life forms instead of mechanical objects to do their work has thinking mines protecting them from the humans who decide when to blow up. The solution experiment; get a human brain to control a spaceship so it can outsmart the Yuk organic mines. Just be careful whose brain you use. Maybe not the brain of your old pacifist university professor who is at death's door, or there might be unintended consequences from a sentient spaceship jetting around with it's own agenda. Good or bad decide.
This early Sci-Fi story explores the concept of the "Turing Test", Alan Turing's (the first person to write a computer program) definition of whether a computer can be considered sentient. He opined that if you were brought into a different room from the computer out of direct contact except for speech, it could be considered to have sentience if your discourse with it failed to identify it as "not human".

To what extent could such a sentient computer communicate with and modify the development of a young humanoid alien race, and could it itself be sufficiently "human" to age, and be weary of the process. Could it ask the very race it guided, and which worships it as a deity, for an end to it's own existance?
Pyrrus; a nasty planet named for the type of victory that king Pyrrus of Epirus enjoyed when he defeated powerful Rome, but lost all his forces and kingdom doing so.

That's what the settlers of Pyrrus are facing. They are dealing with not only a tidal and volcanically dangerous planet, but an incredibly hostile array of native life which is continuously evolving ever deadlier forms. Despite training to kill from infancy, and constant ferocious battling, they are not making headway. The more they kill, the more of them are killed. They enlist a somewhat shady gambler who uses his telekenitic powers to win at dice. He contracts to cheat and win them a pile of sheckels to buy the equipment of conflict they need.

He wins the money, but, being a curious adventurer type, insists he wants to go back with them to Pyrrus despite the dangers.

He undergoes extensive training just to stay alive. Then he has revelations about just what is making the planet's indigenous lifeforms so hateful and aggressive to humans. Follows his leads......and makes this story a good read.

Comment; a few of the side trips and the ending are weak, but all in all a good and constantly developing adventure that will hold your interest.
Robocop the beginning. A fun read even though it's been done ad nauseum lately.
Uh-Oh, A curio shop has a crystal bell that was rung in certain Asian sect rituals to bring back the dead providing a living person takes the dead ones place. Warning from the propietor, to the couple who want's it, for them not to use it, but it has no clapper so he thinks it is safe to sell. A couple buys it and restores the clapper. Not good, not good at all.
It's about a little telepathic kid who can channel the thoughts and memories of living and dead characters. He shares (among others) the thoughts, memories and physical experiences of a scientist dying in prison for not giving in to the military who want to use his antitoxin discoveries for germ warfare. A neighbor telepath encourages him to remember the scientists concepts to keep the research alive for it's benefits. But he's just a little kid...

Comment: "Telepaths for political action unite!" We need you now! Just think about it at least...
Mainak Dhar - A Sniper in a Mumbai Mall
FEATURED AUTHOR - Mainak Dhar wears many hats. He considers his most important job to be the best possible father and husband he can be. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, his 'day job' is in a leadership role with a major multinational firm. A self-described 'cubicle dweller by day and writer by night', when he's not with his family or at work, he loves creating and sharing stories. He is the author of over a dozen books, some of which have been bestsellers in India and abroad… Read more