Themes: / military sf / basic training / overpopulated earth / battle armor combat / aliens / marriage / mutiny / mathematics /
In the sequel to Terms of Enlistment, a desperate battle for interstellar supremacy pits man against man and humanity against aliens in an epic tale of vicious combat and political deception.
Vicious interstellar conflict with an indestructible alien species. Bloody civil war over the last habitable zones of the cosmos. Political unrest, militaristic police forces, dire threats to the solar system…
Humanity is on the ropes, and after years of fighting a two-front war with losing odds, so is Commonwealth Defense Corps officer Andrew Grayson. He dreams of dropping out of the service one day, alongside his pilot girlfriend, but as warfare consumes entire planets and conditions on Earth deteriorate, he wonders if there will be anywhere left for them to go.
After surviving a disastrous spaceborne assault, Grayson is reassigned to a ship bound for a distant colony—and packed with malcontents and troublemakers. His most dangerous battle has just begun.
In Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos picks up where Terms of Enlistment left off. Earth is overpopulated, various terrestrial governments are still warring with one another in space as people colonize the stars, and there’s a new nearly indestructible alien species that appears determined to exterminate mankind.
The combat scenes are crisp and the action flows at a nice clip. For the majority of the narrative, we tag along with Andrew Grayson as he along with his fellow NAC troopers battle the Lanky, the new aliens on the block. Again we are plunged into a universe where the Chinese, Russians, and North American Commonwealth manage to still fight one another in space as they simultaneously battle the eighty-foot tall Lanky.
Kloos writes a nice sequel, but unlike many others, I didn’t feel that Lines of Departure was as strong as Terms of Enlistment. Still, this is a good Military SF book and worth your time. I like the military hardware, interactions between troops and civilians, and the realistic paradoxical bureaucracy that apparently still plagues humanity’s future.
My favorite scene? Andrew Grayson having breakfast with his mother in a small Vermont diner. I like Military SF combat, and Kloos writes good combat scenes. But the breakfast is something special. Character development happens seamlessly, dialogue feels effortless and natural, and there is some genuine emotional growth occurring. I could almost taste the food, smell the coffee, and feel the heft of the menu and napkins.
The ending is good, maybe not surprising, but it’s true to the story and well written. Nice Job, Mr. Kloos. Thank you for not overreaching. You gave me what the story needed, and you resisted the temptation of adding too many whirly-bangs.
Luke Daniels narrates the audiobook, and turns in another outstanding reading.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. If you’ve read Terms of Enlistment, you’ll want to give this a go.
Posted by Casey Hampton.
Themes: / thriller / marriage / diary / writers /
Marriage can be a real killer. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
This audiobook was 19 hours and I finished listening to it in three days. That’s on my 3 mile commute. I just couldn’t stop. I’d make up reasons to listen. This is a very well-written thriller that I can hardly discuss without giving things away. I almost hate myself for liking it because of all the hype, but it really pulls you in and makes you want to know where it is going. I don’t read many thrillers, but this was a good one!
The audiobook is a great way to “read” this, because the chapters are divided between Amy, who has gone missing, through her diary, and Nick, her husband who is a key suspect. The two readers, male and female, really bring the story to life. I’m used to Kirby Heyborne reading zombie novels, so it was hard to ever think of Nick as good, but the author does that anyway.
Posted by Jenny Colvin
The SFFaudio Podcast #186 – An unabridged reading of The Lady, Or The Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton (17 minutes), read by David Federman – followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Julie Hoverson (of 19 Nocturne Boulevard).
Talked about on today’s show:
Monty Hall, Let’s Make A Deal, a can of sardines, a donkey and a block of hay, the Dungeons & Dragons meaning of “Monty Hall”, use in schools, weighting the scales, what is the character of women?, equally loving and equally jealous, love vs. jealousy, how barbaric are women?, where are the female criminals, a fully barbaric king, trial by ordeal, a box with a viper, a box with a knife, the swift choice, a curious justice system, jaywalking into the people’s court, like father like daughter, women were so emotional, unmodernizable sexism, guilt, there are tigers behind both doors, The Price Is Right, imaginary morality in an imaginary land, fairness conflated with arbitrariness, “when he and himself agreed upon anything”, Julie’s problem with philosophy, game theory, a thought experiment, Ray Bradbury style stories convey Bradburian feelings vs. Rorschachian style stories which elicit only the reader’s feelings, The Discourager Of Hesitancy (a sequel to The Lady, Or The Tiger?), smile vs. frown, Batman, Two-Face’s decisions are not actually coin tosses, The Man in The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I Ching, “the tiger does not eat the straw because the duck has flown away”, phone psychics should agree with their customers, “the cards are telling me…”, psychics as impartial observers, a Ponzi scheme, selection bias, is it a double bluff?, does the father know that the daughter knows?, what is the punishment for adultery?, obsolete pop-culture, zoot suit riots (not just a joke, seriously), “six of one, half a dozen of the other”, “as snug as a bug in a rug”, we have to invent rug technology, nitpicking, Bugs Bunny dialogue, Max Headroom (is still ahead of it’s time), “blipvert”, They Live, shantytowns in the Regan era, Shock Treatment, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
The E.V. Rieu translation and the , The Great Bow, Odysseus Strings His Bow, The Battle In The Hall, Slaughter In The Hall, Odysseus And Penelope, The Great Rooted Bed, The Feud Is Ended, Peace, flexing that bow, canny suitors, does Penelope know what’s going on?, the Wikipedia entry for The Odyssey (and the Slaying Of The Suitors):
The next day, at Athena’s prompting, Penelope maneuvers the Suitors into competing for her hand with an archery competition using Odysseus’ bow. The man who can string the bow and shoot it through a dozen axe heads would win. Odysseus takes part in the competition himself: he alone is strong enough to string the bow and shoot it through the dozen axe heads, making him the winner. He then turns his arrows on the Suitors and with the help of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philoteus the cowherd, he kills all the Suitors. Odysseus and Telemachus hang twelve of their household maids, who had betrayed Penelope or had sex with the Suitors, or both; they mutilate and kill the goatherd Melanthius, who had mocked and abused Odysseus. Now at last, Odysseus identifies himself to Penelope. She is hesitant, but accepts him when he mentions that their bed was made from an olive tree still rooted to the ground. Many modern and ancient scholars take this to be the original ending of the Odyssey, and the rest to be an interpolation.
The next day he and Telemachus visit the country farm of his old father Laertes, who likewise accepts his identity only when Odysseus correctly describes the orchard that Laertes had previously given him.
The citizens of Ithaca have followed Odysseus on the road, planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. Their leader points out that Odysseus has now caused the deaths of two generations of the men of Ithaca: his sailors, not one of whom survived; and the Suitors, whom he has now executed. The goddess Athena intervenes and persuades both sides to give up the vendetta, a deus ex machina. After this, Ithaca is at peace once more, concluding the Odyssey.
Melanthius prompts his own mutilation, a mutilating evil dude, “horror swept through the suitors”, on the question of the axe heads, the “battle master”, “cased in bronze”, a “turbid jet” of blood, how awesome would it be to see a bardic performance of The Odyssey?, Sir Ian McKellen, the compliant bard, the ancient Greek holy books, the host-guest relationship, the morality of killing your house-guests, why should you read The Odyssey? Because it doesn’t present a world classifiable into good and evil, the inviolability, Iranian hospitality, how Iranians talk (a circuitous path to making a point), why can’t Odysseus even trust his dad?, the primacy of patriarch, the killing of the twelve maidens, what is the moral message?, an unjustified liar, Agamemnon ghost, “that Penelope’s pretty great”, “talk about odd behavior”, the immovable (marriage) bed, an olive tree, “the gods have made you daft”, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, Odysseus in Antarctica?, Odysseus runs his life crazily, Odysseus’ name means “trouble”, impiety to Polyphemus, the Trojan War was Odysseus’s fault, a kind of comedy like Voltaire’s Candide, a satire of The Odysseus, True History by Lucian of Samosata, “the natural ending”?, Athena’s solution, the end of The Stand by Stephen King, is the deus ex machina ending satisfying?, Poseidon’s rage, the Norweigan version of The Odyssey (Beowulf), the Beowulf movie, Beowulf is tough braggart but is not wise, melancholy gods, the hero is the villain, the merciless Odysseus, the unquestionable Odysseus.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #181 – The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions, read by Julie Davis (of Forgotten Classics and A Good Story Is Hard To Find). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novella (2 Hours 40 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Scott, Jesse, and Julie Davis!
Talked about on today’s show: Yay!, Scott has another busy year, The Odyssey, Beowulf, length vs. content, is The Beckoning Fair One too long for it’s material?, modern colloquial terms (for 1910), Stephen King, The Forbidden Books Group Presents, Necronomipod: The Lair Of The Bookish Worm did a podcast discussion of The Beckoning Fair One, The Shining, writer protagonists, Bag Of Bones, The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, surprise endings, ambiguity, a writer’s point of view, Julie’s sister can see ghosts, now is the time in the podcast for a personal ghost story, the ghosts of Logan, Utah, troubled or troublesome nuns, are ghostly experiences possible during the daylight?, doppelgänger, an urban phenomena, a haunted hotel room, a vivid vision of a drowning, a disappearing maid, nightmares, a premonition, Christine, why are there no haunted beach?, haunted cars, gremlins, hiking, a haunted hiking trail, machete vs. axe, ‘there’s something wrong with that bedroom’, there’s something wrong with that, the ontological argument, House, M.D., between the ultraviolet and the infrared, a great title, the dripping of a faucet, The Sarah Bennett Quintet, suicide, Oleron is unconscious of the things that he’s conscious of, who’s sleeping in my bed?, a ghostly brushing, “he wakes up to himself”, a harp cover, Oléron is an island in France, and Romilly is a city in France, is the house playing him like a harp?, the final chapter, Jesse’s not super swift, a shut in, vegetable refuse, wig-stands, a large lumpy pudding, the recurring “triangle”, it has esoteric meaning to Freemasons, how did Elsie end up in the closet?, “you get to decide”, an alternative suspect, the tramp in the basement, the Hobo marks, “don’t push the religious angle”, firemarks (fire insurance marks), starving artists, why men have to get married, a Jonathan Swift shout-out, Elsie had a Brobdingnagian complexion, “I need you and I want you to marry me.”, sticking with the spooky, maybe Julie’s in an insane asylum?, Community, Red Dwarf is an excellent Science Fiction show, The Booth At The End, H.P. Lovecraft, Dagon, The Colour Out Of Space, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, The Dunwich Horror, amorphous horror, a gelatinous voice, Gregg Margarite, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe, this podcast is making me hurry for rosewater pudding, The Sixth Sense, Signs, Joaquin Phoenix, The Master, Baron Münchhausen, The Takeaway Movie Date, The Big Book Of Ghost Stories edited by Otto Penzler, Donald E. Westlake, the ghost of the paperback, Jesse has a guardian angel?, Parker, Jason Statham is a modern action movie star like they had in the 1980s, The Bank Job, Anarchaos by Curt Clark (aka Donald E. Westlake), Smoke, Humans, Firebird by Jack McDevitt, Will Duquette, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #151 – Scott, Jesse, and Julie Davis talk, in the second of a six part series, about the books V, VI, VII and VIII of The Odyssey.
Talked about on today’s show:
We join Odysseus crying into the wine dark sea, it’s all about marriage (and homecomings), my wise Penelope, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Captain Kirk of the Mediterranean, the Samuel Butler translation, Calyspo vs. Circe, Ogygia vs. Scheria, Nausicaa, the role of women in Ancient Greece, adornments to the men, Nausicaa will later marry Telemachus, Odysseus is always being gifts and then losing them into the sea, the LibriVox edition, Poseidon and the other gods are easily distracted, Demodocus may be Homer putting himself into the poem, telling the story from the middle outwards, Memento, a television show inside a television show (a story within a story), Inception, Ino, “oh myself”, an extra god (named “River”), animism, Shinto, does Athena actually seal Odysseus’ eyelids?, Ehren Ziegler’s Chop Bard podcast, rosy fingered Dawn (the goddess), does Dawn work on multiple planets, Apollo worship has really slacked off since Copernicus, crying like a woman, carrying an olive branch like a mountain lion, “tell the one about Odysseus”.
Posted by Jesse Willis