Sunday, October 14, 2018

All Systems Red - Book Review

All Systems Red: The MurderBot Diaries, by Martha Wells is a SF novella, the first of The MurderBot Diaries.

It got a bunch of awards, and have been in my suggestion lists for quite a while, so I decided to check it out.

The story is about a secUnit, which is a conscious mix of organic and mechanic parts made in a very humanoid form to do security of planetary survey teams. Basically a slave. It hacks its governor, so that it doesn't have to obey orders.

Then all hell breaks lose and it decides to help, just because it can.

It was pretty good. It seems fair that it won all those awards.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Player of Games - Book Review

Some people recently suggested that I should check out the Culture series. Looking online, it was frequently suggested that I start with Player of Games,  by Iain M. Banks.

I'm glad I took that suggestion. The book is very good, and full of interesting tech and ideas. The twists in the end were pretty good too.

Barely shows its age, which is pretty impressive for a 1988 SF book.

One thing that probably helps is that a lot of the tech is understated, and not even described until it is used.

Very much worth reading, and I will definitely be reading more of the Culture series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sniper Elite 4 - PC Game Review

I have been interested in the Sniper Elite series for a while, as I usually like sniper games, but never got one because I thought the hard ballistics would be annoying. But it was a game in this month's Humble Bundle, so I decided to try it.

First of all, at the lower levels there are basically no ballistics. You aim, you hit. That might be annoying for some, but I felt it was fun enough.

I mostly liked the missions, and how useful stealth were, while not being a requirement. Graphics are good but a bit dated.

I love how fast it starts (and in an HD!), and how fast saving and loading games are.

What I didn't like was how short the campaign was (7 hours), and the minimal progression of guns (kept the first one all the way through) and skills.

I've gone through all the DLC levels and they are totally worth the current price.

Overall, pretty good at a discounted price.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Salvation - Book Review

Salvation: A Novel - is the latest book from Peter F. Hamilton. It does not take place in the CommonWealth universe.

I am a huge fan of Hamilton (both the CommonWealth and several of his other books) and this one did not disappoint.

There are quite a few parallels between Salvation's universe and the CommonWealth:
- They use portals (even more, here)
- They are invaded by stealth aliens that can take human form

It was great fun to see all the ways portals are used - like how they use threading to get large portals around, and the use of portal ships to use breakaway glaciers to "terraform" deserts. Also portal homes.

I read that some people was upset at ALL the background stories getting in the middle of the action. True, they take a lot of the book but all add to a big deal in the end.

The story is a little hard to describe well. A few important envoys take a journey to a distant star where an alien ship has crashed. On the way in a ground car (used to protect humankind of attack by portals), they all tell stories that are vital to the conclusion (in a little too convenient way).

Meanwhile, further into the future a group of teens are being raised to fight unnamed aliens, because humankind is being hunted by them, and is on the run. The envoys are referred to as the Saints, in reverence.

The end is pretty great, and makes me sad that I have to wait for the next volume in the series.

Overall, strongly recommended to both fans of Hamilton and any SF fan.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Forged Battalion - PC Game Review

Forged Battalion is an RTS game for PC, currently in early access.

It is overall generic, except for the faction design, which allows you to create your own units, as well as upgrade structures, and the deep, persistent tech tree.

Overall, I found it conceptually interesting, and graphics are nice, but it did not work for me as it is.

Maybe later in development.