Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quick Takes: Moran, Baker, Resnick, Tyers

Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy, by Lindsay Moran: Moran's memoir of her time working as a CIA spy in Macedonia reads like a chick lit memoir of espionage. Moran is very open with her experience and her opinions on the CIA and it never feels like Moran ever truly belongs in the CIA. Her opinion is refreshing and her criticisms honest.

In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker: This is Baker's first novel and the first novel of the Company. I especially loved the opening chapter which explained the premise of the series. Sometime in the future some scientists discovered two things: time travel and immortality. They formed what is known as the Company and send agents back in time and give those agents immortality (as well as give locals immortality in exchange for service to the Company). The way time travel works is that recorded history cannot be changed, but nonrecorded history...that can change. So, artwork that goes missing for centuries...the Company can acquire it. Investments? Yep. So, in the future the Company has untold riches and power. Love the premise. In the Garden of Iden is the story of Mendoza, a Spanish girl in the era of Henry the Eighth who is saved from the Spanish Inquisition by the Company and they make her an agent. Immortality has a price: becoming a cyborg. No longer fully human and with no expectation of death. The premise is fantastic, but once we get past the premise we are stuck with an alternative historical fiction with science fiction elements. Decent, but not amazing. I'll still read more Company novels, though, just to see what's going on.

Starship: Mutiny, by Mike Resnick: This is my introduction to Mike Resnick and I loved it! Sure, Wilson Cole is something of a stock feeling science fiction character, but the story is a lot of fun to read and got me exciting for what happens next. It did have a bit of a pirate feel (which is good, considering the next novel is titled Pirate) and our hero of a hyper-competent officer who will disobey bad orders to achieve a positive result. He is given accolades but is also exiled to military posts where he will never see combat so he can cease embarrassing the top brass with his unconventional success. Cole only cares about his soldiers and about results. Naturally something will happen so that Cole once again must take command against orders and when it does, it's a hell of a story. This is an author I'm glad to have discovered and hope to devour more of his work.

Balance Point, by Kathy Tyers: The sixth entry in the New Jedi Order series is a huge disappointment. The first hundred pages are tough to slog through and somehow Tyers is unable to capture the feel of the Star Wars novels and the NJO series. Sure, the NJO is a bit of a downer, but there is still a sense of movement and adventure. I did not feel any of that in Balance Point. Granted, I did not enjoy her previous Star Wars novel The Truce at Bakura, but if I wasn't reading the NJO I would probably not have finished this one.

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