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review 2018-11-30 19:13
Agent G: Saboteur by C. T. Phipps
Agent G: Saboteur - C. T. Phipps

Note: Even though this is Book 2, it works just fine as a stand alone.

This was a lot of fun. Set in a near future, G is an enhanced assassin. He’s got cyber enhancements, bio enhancements, perhaps even… uh… personal private enhancements. But he also has a limited shelf life. He was created to be used and then discarded (and his realization of all that is in Book 1 but is summarized for this book in bits and pieces). The International Refugee Society (IRS) is a front for a world-controlling power-hungry gang. They’ve been successful for many years but now things are falling apart and G has enemies coming at him from every corner and perhaps even from within his small circle of allies.

The action never ends for G and Marissa Sanchez (another shady character with hidden motives). Along the way, he picks up James (who he has to convince to come over to his side where they at least have paid vacations). There’s also the AI riding around in G’s head. She has a to-do list as well and not everything on there will jive with what G wants to accomplish.

One of the things I enjoy so much about any Phipps novel is that there is usually a reference to his other works tucked in to the tale. In this novel, the term ‘bioroid’ is used, which is a reference to this Lucifer’s Star series (which is great space opera stuff).  Then there’s the Supervillainy references as well (which is a great superhero/supervillain series). I love that it’s a TV show in G’s world. Ha!

The ladies are just as diverse and deadly as the men in this series, which is a thing I always love finding in spy & cyberpunk stories. One of the big baddies here is Persephone who has been running things from the shadows for some time. Coupled with Dr. Gordon and his black tech from the Karma Corp, G needs to bring his A game if he’s going to survive to the end of the book!

I was glad that we got to see Lucita Biondi again. She was key in Book 1 for bringing down the Carnivale and she’s still a player here, just not as big a part. Being transgender has brought her all kids of grief from her family, but she’s persevered. With a handgun.

The story also has plenty of references to other cyberpunk tales, including the classics. I loved this! I know I didn’t catch them all but it makes me want to go binge a bunch of cyberpunk and then come back to this series with that on my mind. Action and mayhem keep the plot moving forward even as G and others, like the AI, contemplate what it really means to be human.

All told, it’s a great sequel but it also stands well on it’s own. I was never bored with the tale and I like the few moments of seriousness. I look forward to seeing what Agent G does next. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer is always a treat to listen to and I love his voice for Agent G. It’s perfect. Also, Kafer’s delivery of the humor is so well timed! Kafer’s female character voices are feminine and each character has their own distinct voice. There are no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-10-18 16:16
Ancient Rayguns: "Mirrorshades" by William Gibson, Bruce Sterling et al
Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology - Greg Bear,William Gibson,Paul Di Filippo,John Shirley,Bruce Sterling,Pat Cadigan,Rudy Rucker,Lewis Shiner,James Patrick Kelly,Marc Laidlaw,Tom Maddox



(Original Review, 1985)




Isn't that just the thing? With the digital world, social media and the online life, comes an entirely new kind of creeping, monolithic conformity. When everywhere you go cookies are recording your choices, advertising companies can predict your needs and your boss is your friend on Facebook, you need to be careful about what you download on Kindle. Writers and publishers too are constrained by this social coercion and so we end up with a homogenised world. Writers are only allowed to be creative within strictly policed generic parameters.

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-08-06 22:19
The Culling by Ramona Finn
The Culling (The Culling Trilogy Book 1) - Ramona Finn

It took me a while to get into this book but I’m glad I stuck with it. I really enjoyed the characters and the main struggle. Glade Io is a pretty standard main character. She’s likable but a bit flawed in her absolute belief in the Authority. Still, I felt it was true to her character that she wouldn’t immediately believe those that oppose the Authority. It’s that struggle (Glade’s ability to parse the truth) that really drew me in.

The Ferrymen of Charon are your standard rebels or resistance. They just want to protect their families and have enough to live a decent life. Coopier inherited the leadership of the Ferrymen when his brother Loose died. The Ferrymen have come up with a plan to take out the Authority, but they need a Data Point and set about kidnapping a few (Glade and Sulia). This is where things finally got interesting for me. Glade’s 16 years of believing in the Authority are challenged by the Ferrymen (how they act & what they show her) and her world begins to crumble a bit.

Back at the Authority, Glade continues to train under Don, her long-term mentor. The story has set up a love triangle and love triangles are not my thing. It rarely works for me and it doesn’t work here. Despite that, I like Don and his own inner struggle – to trust Glade, hold true to the Authority, hate the Ferrymen.

The main premise of the tale is that specially trained people with a very specific personality (a little sociopathy, still maleable, highly intelligent, etc.) can work with specialized tech to read another person’s brainwaves and then snuff them out. Yep. Snuff out hundreds to thousands of people from afar. Planetwide but sometimes from other planets. I couldn’t help but shake my head at this. The writing could have made this a bit more believable but it was real loose and ridiculous.

Also there were small things that just didn’t ring true. The Authority monitors the Data Points during training… yet not during an actual culling? Some of the Data Points take up communicating silently through their tech and yet it’s not a common practice and is apparently unmonitored? Unlikely. Also, Glade is considered rather important and yet they don’t monitor all her movements all the time through her tech? It would be so simple to do…. So because of all these small things like this, I often felt the writing was lazy instead of giving us a story with solid, realistic rules.

On the other hand, the emotions of the characters and how some of them grow throughout the story kept me engaged. Even Sulia, who is a jerk, might have something more going on than just what we see on the surface. Because of the characters, I look forward to Book 2. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Stacey Glemboski did a great job with this book. She had distinct voices for all the characters and her male voices were believable. I really liked her voice for Coopier’s little brother and for Sulia when she’s being nasty. There’s plenty of tense emotions in this story and Glemboski did a great job portraying them. There were no technical issues with this recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Ramona Finn. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-01-26 23:36
The Feedback Loop by Harmon Cooper
The Feedback Loop: (Book One) (Sci-Fi Series) (Volume 1) - Harmon Cooper
Initially, I was drawn into this world that Quantum is trapped in. Every day starts off with yet one more attempt to kill him. He’s got it down to a T now because he’s stuck in this cybergame on some kind of loop. Life holds no more mysteries for him, except for the big one: why is he trapped here and how can he get out? This story definitely has elements of the movie Groundhog Day (which I always found boring) but luckily this story gives us just a taste of Quantum’s repetitive life before something new happens.
 
Frances Euphoria walks in, boobs first. Yep, her physical attributes are the first things we learn about and her skills only come on display later. In fact, all the ladies in this story (including a voluptuous waitress) are described first by their looks and perhaps, maybe, later by some important skill they have. After I finished rolling my eyes at this, I really liked what Euphoria brought to the table: A possible way out! Quantum will do nearly anything at this point to escape this personal hell.
 
The plot thickens as Quantum tries harder and harder to escape. He had slipped into a kind of complacency but now as he pushes back against the Loop, more and more deadly things and characters are set against him. There is also an unexpected ally.
 
Just as I was getting sucked into this tale, we neared the end. Things felt a little rushed towards the end and I wanted more out of Euphoria. While Quantum was surprised by who was behind his imprisonment, it wasn’t a surprise to me. 3.5/5 stars.
 
The Narration: Jeff Hays never disappoints. All of his character voices were distinct and his female voices are excellent. Also, his enthusiasm for this story came through in his performance. I liked his grumbly voice for Quantum and his ticked off voice for Euphoria. 5/5 stars.
 
I won a free copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own.
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review 2017-10-29 19:31
STARS ABOVE: A Lunar Chronicles Collection (The Lunar Chronicles) - Marissa Meyer

Detailed and insightful background snippets on the main cast and a satisfying look forward into their post-Winter future. Nice supplement to the series, with some moments of emotional catharsis and an astonishing peek behind the world-building scenes.

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