Book Review of “Linesman”

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“Linesman” eBook was published in 2015 (June) and was written by S. K. Dunstall (Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall) (http://www.skdunstall.com). This is their first book of a planned trilogy.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there are instances of Violence. This Science Fiction novel is set in a far future where humanity has spread to many worlds. The primary character is Ean Lambert. Lambert is a ‘Linesman’ – one who can work with the lines of energy. These lines are the basis for communication and, most importantly, faster than light travel.

Lambert is a little unusual in that he grew up in the slums and came late to Linesman training. While a certified ’10’, the top grade of Linesman, he is considered an outsider and a bit of a quack.

A mysterious alien ship is discovered and Lambert is one of the two Linesman to be hired to evaluate it. He makes many discoveries and is caught up in a power play between opposing forces and his own Linesman guild.

The 11.5 hours I spent with the book were enjoyable, but there were times that it seem a little rough around the edges. Lambert was caught up in more than one ship based fight. There was also quite a bit of political intrigue between the parties. I will look for the next installment in the trilogy. I give this novel a 3.9 (rounded u to 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

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Book Review of “To Honor You Call Us”

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“To Honor You Call Us” eBook was published in 2014 and was written by H. Paul Honsinger (http://hpaulhonsinger.com). Mr. Honsinger has published two novels in the ‘Man of War’ series, this being the first.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Science Fiction novel is set in a far future where humanity is under attack by the Krag – a bipedal humanoid species that evolved from a rat-like rodent.

The war has been raging for over 30 years and humanity is loosing. The Krag launched a sneak attack that set humanity behind, then they launched a successful biological attack that killed off the majority of humanity’s female population. Now those that are left are in an all-out struggle for survival.

The primary characters in this series are Captain Maxime “Max” Robichaux, commander of the destroyer class starship the USS Cumberland, and Dr. Ibrahim Sahin, his chief medical officer. The Cumberland is Robichaux’s first command, and Sahin’s first post aboard a naval vessel. Because of the long term nature of the war, and the shortage of available manpower, many of the crew begin their Navy service as pre-teens. The weapons they carry not only consist of projectile weapons, but more ancient bladed weapons, like swords, because of hand-to-hand combat aboard ship.

The Cumberland is sent out to identify and seize cargo that the Krag are getting from traitors to humanity. Not only are they faced with long odds because they are operating far from the fleet, but the ship, due to poor officers in the past, is considered one of the worst in the fleet.

I spent about 10.5 hours with this novel and enjoyed every bit of it. It reminded me a lot of the “Honor Harrington” and “Lost Fleet” series. The starships in this universe are very reminiscent of the British sailing ships of the 18th and 19th centuries on Earth. Look forward to reading the next installment in this series. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Clash of Eagles”

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“Clash of Eagles” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Alan Smale (http://www.alansmale.com). This is Mr. Smale’s first novel.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are instances of Violence and some Mature Language. This Alternate History Thriller is set in North America in the early 1200’s. The Roman Empire is thriving and has sent an army to North America under the command of Praetor Gaius Marcellinus. The 3000+ strong 33rd Roman Legion heads west after landing on the east coast of North America.

They battle the native North Americans along the way, but when they reach the Mississippi, they are defeated and wiped out to a man, except for Marcellinus. Marcellinus gradually recovers from his wounds and begins to assimilate into the Cahokia society. The Cahokia (mound builders along the Mississippi) as well as the Iraquo have developed what we would recognize as hang gliders, as well as the equivalent of ‘Greek Fire’. These technologies helped the Cahokia overcome the steel and might of the Roman Legion.

The Iroqua are enemies of the Cahokia. Marcellinus helps to develop new weapons, technology and military skills so that the Cahokia can survive the Iroqua attacks. He is also trying to prepare them to be recognized as a society to be accepted into Imperial Rome. He is confident that the Emperor will send another Legion in the years ahead.

I thought that this was a good alternative history thriller. I spent around 9 hours with the book and enjoyed it. There was a lot of battle as well as time spent exploring the technologies of the day. I am looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Aurora: Centralis”

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“Aurora: Centralis” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Amanda Bridgeman (http://amandabridgeman.com.au). Ms. Bridgeman has published four novels in her ‘Aurora’ series, this being the fourth.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are many instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Science Fiction novel is set in a far future where Earth has colonies on both the Moon and Mars, as well as some space stations united nation. It is the story of the crew of the United National Forces (UNF) vessel Aurora.

The primary characters are Corporal Carrie Welles and Saul Harris, Captain of the Aurora. [Spoilers ahead for the first 3 novels] The crew of the Aurora are on Earth after rescuing Welles and other crew members from Professor Sharley. Welles and two crew mates have been transformed into Jumbos – humans transformed by a virus into super-humans. And Welles finds that she is pregnant with Jumbo twins, having been inseminated while in captivity.

Now the crew battles to preserve Welles’ choice to have the babies, as well as protecting her from Sharley and his henchmen who want to take the babies. The crew also discovers a deep secret that lies at the root of the UNFASP (Jumbo) program. Meanwhile, Harris faces secrets of his past that he had not been willing to face.

All in all this is a pretty good story. It was a little on the long side at over 13 hours, but I enjoyed it. It was a little hard to pick up the story at first since it follows three previous novels in the series, but once into it a ways that did not seem to be a problem. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Sailing on Light

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The flight of the LightSail, developed by the non-profit The Planetary Society,  is now over. The craft reentered Earth’s atmosphere yesterday and burned up during reentry. The trip, although lasting only 25 days. did end in success, though the flight was not without troubles. The goal of this flight was to simply deploy the sails and prove that the craft was spaceworthy. The next challenge will come late next year when a sister vessel will attempt to ‘fly’ with the sails. The 2016 flight will be partially funded by kickstarter with 9 days left on the project. The goal was to raise $200,000. Currently they have pledges for $903,224.

The craft was inspired by ideas from astronomer Carl Saga. Instead of chemical propellants, it will use the ‘pressure’ of photons on the large sails. In fact it will use the force of protons from the sun much in the same way a sailing ship uses the wind. Granted that the force exerted on the sails will be low, about 5 newtons, but there is no mass or space required for fuel storage. Further, craft using the light sails can maintain the force from the sun over long periods, slowly building up substantial speeds.

Photos sent back from LightSail on June 7 showed that the sails had been successfully deployed.

Flyby Dwarf Planet Ceres

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was the first to visit a dwarf planet earlier this month. Ceres, the 940 km diameter planet visited, makes up a quarter of the mass of the asteroid belt. Because of it’s extremely low gravity (0.29 m/s versus 9.81 m/s on Earth) and proximity to the resources in the asteroid belt, Ceres is considered a good candidate for a future outpost. Orbiting 445,410,000 km (the Earth is at only 151,930,000 km) from the sun, it would be a distant
target.

A short composite video was prepared by NASA from photos taken by the Dawn spacecraft and can be seen here.  The video shows the rocky, pitted surface of Ceres.

Book Review of “SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Fox”

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“SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Fox” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Don Mann (http://www.usfrogmann.com) and Ralph Pezzullo (http://www.ralphpezzullo.com). Mr. Mann has authored or co-authoered 12 books. Mr. Pezzullo has authored or co-authored 14 books. This is the sixth in their joint “SEAL Team Six” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there are several instances of Violence and Mature Language. This Thriller novel is set in a contemporary Syria and Turkey. The primary character is Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Crocker, a serving US Navy SEAL.

Crocker and his team have been attached to the CIA. A report surfaces that the Syrians have sarin  gas. Crocker and his team are sent into war torn Syria to recover the gas canisters and bring them back to Turkey.

he and his men have to dodge not only the Syrian Army, but several militia groups and ISIS factions. Their mission is complicated further when “friends” turn on the US.

This was an action packed 5.5 hour read. Even though I had not read the prior five books in the series, I was able to pick this one up and enjoy it with little problem. The SEAL team was made up of an interesting collection of characters. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Will the Flike Let Us Zoom Along Like Imperial Storm Troopers on Their 74-Z Speeders?

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I think we have all seen footage from Star Wars VI: The Return of
the Jedi, where the Imperial Storm Troopers are riding their 74-Z
Speeder
bikes through the forests of the moon Endor.

Hungarian engineers have taken a step towards giving us that same
experience with their prototype ‘Flike‘ – a flying bike personal transportation craft. The engineers are from Bay-Zoltan which is one of the leading applied research institutions in Hungary.

The video of the first flight didn’t last long, but then neither did the Wright brother’s first flight. Certainly the Flike with it’s Y6 layout and all electric drive has possibilities. The current design’s lithium polymer batteries sustain only 20 minutes of flight, but the concept is interesting. The engineers hope to spin this project off into a for-profit startup in the near future.

References:

  1. Like: A Nifty Flying Bike Giving ‘Wings’ To Future Of Personal Transportation

Book Review of “Undertow”

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“Undertow” eBook was published in 2015 and was written by Michael Buckley (http://michaelbuckleywrites.com). Mr. Buckley has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG-13’ as there are instances of violence. This Young Adult Science Fiction novel is set in contemporary Coney Island, in New York, USA. The main character is 16 year old Lyric Walker.

Three years before the story begins, several previously unknown races of aquatic humans, the Alpha, appeared on the shores of coney island. A large section of Brooklyn has been segregated to contain them. Finally an effort is started to integrate the Alpha and humans in the area schools. But there are many who oppose the effort and would like to see the Alpha driven back into the sea.

Walker happens to be a student at the High School where the integration is scheduled to occur. Her life is complicated by the fact that her mother is an Alpha who has been secretly living with humans for nearly 20 years. Walker and her family are afraid that they will be arrested, or simply disappear as other Alphas have, if the truth is discovered.

Walker is assigned to the Alpha crown prince, Fathom, who will be attending the High School. There is immediate tension between the Alpha students and the community. Walker’s assignment soon turns romantic which complicates things further. The tension explodes in violence and Walker and her family is caught in the middle.

I thought that the plot was a little different because of the aquatic men, though a little far fetched. Beyond that it is pretty much the same general YA heroine scenario I have read before. I spent about 6.5 hours with the story and it was enjoyable. While it did wrap up the immediate challenge to Walker, the door is left wide open to a sequel. I give this novel a 3.6 (rounded up to 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

The AllBe1 Personal Security Device

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I came across an article yesterday on the AllBe1 and found it very interesting. What is the AllBe1? It is a Indiegogo (crowd funding site) project for a device touted on the web site as “an all-in-one personal security guardian that combines a wide variety of costly devices, into one small & smart device, that does almost everything!

The design for the AllBe1 contains a variety of sensors including an
accelerometer, a thermometer, and sensors for a wide range of light
frequencies. The design will tie to an App on your smart phone (iOS
and Android). The planned App will be Open Source, so other
developers will be able to extend the usefulness of the device. The
AllBe1 web site has several potential applications for the device mostly around security and tracking of pets, kids or devices.

While I am not an investor in the project, I can see many applications for a phone connected inexpensive sensor like this. Since the project has reached 15% of it’s $50,000 goal in just 2 days, it looks likely for it to succeed.

The schedule on the web site projects product availability for December 2015. How could you put one of these to work?