Post by puppetsock
So it's been a tough week. I could use something that will
take my mind off work and make me feel better. It does not
have to be lose-control-of-your-bodily-function funny, though
if you have that, I'm glad to get it. But something that I
will start to grin when I'm reading it is about right.
For example, I will probably be reading something from the
Dirk Gently books. Or possibly something from the Red Dwarf
books. Just as two examples of things that are in the right
Any other suggestions?
Well, there is plenty of humorous SF, and we have had threads on
that from time to time (and I consider _Hell On High_ to be in that
space..), but here are a few from my recent reviews with comments pertinent
to your request in square brackets after each:
"Lover's Knot" (Dorina Basarab series)
by Karen Chance
I'm much more favorably inclined to Chance's most recent Dorina Basarab
story (now $0.00 on Amazon!) which takes place during the course of
_Ride The Storm_ but separately (the influx of "baby vamps" is explained
in 'Storm'). Here Dorina must track down her missing lover with only the
help of her Fabulous uncle, his tailor and a bunch of useless baby vamps.
It is entirely typical of Dorina's adventures that at one point this dialog
"Read my ass!"
"Just do it!"
This is a character driven funny story that manages to satisfy as
_Ride the Storm_ didn't.
[This is a funny story for funny story's sake though it is true to
the characters and advances the storyline somewhat. I don't think
you have to know the setting.]
The Flaw in All Magic (Magebreakers Book 1)
by Ben S. Dobson
Here's another second-world-steampunk-with-magic series that I found
very entertaining. Tane Carver was a university student on a island
that is a loose analog to Victorian Britain. Here the magical races
and humans with magic are free to live their lives apart from the
draconian restrictions that prevail in most of the Europe analog since
the magic wars of centuries ago. I say *was* a university student
since it was a Magic University and Carver has no magic. He got
by on bluff and sleight-of-hand, writing his thesis on why it was
important for the non-magical to be taught the theory of magic whether
they could actually invoke it or not. The climax of his thesis was
the big-reveal of his mundane status. It went over.. poorly.
Now two years later, the disgraced and expelled Carver is called
back to campus to consult on the murder of a student whose killer
ported into an area which was strictly warded against portals.
It all seems to have something to do with the incipient launch of
the kingdom's new airship and apparently the killers have no plans
to quit at one murder and it's up to Carver, the half-orc partner he has
somehow picked up and his now "Scotland Yard" inspector ex to
I like the concept of magic as sort of a computer program where
bugs can manifest themselves in deadly ways: The flaw in all magic
is the mage, as Carver says.
This is an entertaining setting, and the characters complement each
other well. Carver is not perfect. He tends to do things he believes
are in the best interest of other characters without consulting them,
and it gets him and them into trouble. And while he is brave enough,
he is no great fighter. His half-orc companion is the other half of
that coin. Though she is no dummy, she is much more a woman of action
and can often punch her way out of the messes Carver has thought them
into. I guess it's kind of a Holmes & Watson thing if the power dynamic
of those two had been more equal.
All ends well (if with a little more luck than strictly speaking makes
sense), and we are set for more adventures for the pair.
[This is an adventure story and there is some death and danger, but for
the most part it's light adventure. It's not comedy, but there is some
Dragon Storm (Heritage of Power Book 1)
by Lindsay Buroker
I kind of got a little burned out on Buroker's Star Wars/Firefly space
series. I'll probably go back and finish it at some point, but her
new series goes back, wisely I think, to her strengths in second world
"Heritage of Power" is a spin off from her "Dragon Blood" series.
As her introduction notes, she left most of her major characters from that
series in a pretty good place and now introduces two new main leads with
their own problems.
Telryn "Trip" Yert is a pilot in the Iskandian air force mostly tasked
with fighting pirates in the somewhat backwards eastern reaches of
the country. Suddenly called to the Capital by the semi-legendary
General Zirkander for a special mission, he finds that the rumors
of trouble to the west are more than true: Dragons are back in the world,
the kingdom's only dragon allies have vanished, and the Capital and
surrounding areas are under daily dragon attack. Trip is not sure
why he was chosen, especially as he always trys to keep a low profile
on anything to do with magic as his mother was hung (non-judicially, but
just as dead) as a witch.
Rysha Ravenwood is a bookish and possibly brilliant young woman who
has decided, in the wake of Zirkander's well publicized exploits
in saving the kingdom from invasion and then dragons, to break with
her noble family and join the Iskandian special forces. She has
just started the training, doing OK, if not outstandingly well,
when she too is summoned by Zirkander.
The assembled team, which includes some welcome faces (and blades) from
"Dragon Blood" has the mission to a) Find a historic dragon killing sword
believed to be currently in pirate hands and b) Find the portal dragons
are using to return to the world and close it with extreme prejudice.
This book sees them off on "a" and is entertainingly done. Buroker'heroes tend to banter in a way people don't anymore when any joke gone
bad can get you fired and are generally fun to be around. She usually
has a "budding romance" subplot, and here you'll not be surprised to
learn it is the two viewpoint characters, not that there's a lot of
time for romance in between skulking and blowing things up. The series
title appears to refer to Trip, who it seems obvious (though not yet to
him) is most likely a half-dragon though how that could be possible
given the historical dearth of dragons remains to be seen.
[Again, this is light adventure, with real danger, but also there is plenty of
light hearted banter and wry observation.]
Villains Don't Date Heroes!
by Mia Archer (Author)
Our first person narrator, technology based supervillain Night
Terror is pretty much top dog in Starlight City, her first base in
her campaign for world domination. She quickly puts down all comers,
be they rival villain, upstart hero, or the US Government to keep
her city under control. Not that she's a control freak. In general
she believes in taking care of what is hers which means not brutalizing
the population beyond those who choose to make examples of themselves
and take her on. She even has arrangements with the police so they
get to take first shot at her and then withdraw "honorably" and
without casualties when she shrugs it off.
Feeling a bit bored one day, and tired of arguing with her evil
supercomputer CORVAC about his giant killer robot body idea, Night
Terror decides to pull off an old fashioned bank-vault heist. Things
are going about as expected -- the cops have made their strategic
withdrawal and the bank manager has decided that not standing where
the disintegrator ray will be going is the better part of valor,
when suddenly the situation goes pear-shaped: A new hero is in
town, the obviously Supergirl inspired "Fialux", a (presumed) strange
visitor from another planet with real superpowers, not just a
supersuit and a bunch of gadgets.
Having unexpectedly had her hat handed to her, Night Terror limps back
to base to face the day's other totally unexpected event: She's head over
heels in love.
Well, a little case of love is one thing, keeping up her rep is another,
and if some patented Night Terror tech expertise, hmm, maybe a "Non Newtonian
Field" for instance, can get Fialux in her clutches, well, that's two birds
with one stone. Of course CORVAC is not going to wait forever if she
goes off the whole world domination mission to concentrate on this one
This was a generally fun book. Night Terror's narration is suitably over
the top and witty in places. I do think the "love at first sight" aspect
was a bit much. It would have been better, to use a standard comic plot,
if Night Terror and Fialux had had to band together to fight a common
enemy early on and had the sparks start to fly then. That would have
also fleshed out Fialux, who is a bit of a cipher here. In fact, Night
Terror is the only real character in the book, though she is sufficient
to carry it.
[Pure superhero silliness. Night Terror doesn't squeam from killing
people, but it's still a funny book.]
Beneath the Surface (The Emperor's Edge 5.5)
by Lindsay Buroker
Here's another low cost ($2.99) Kindle auto-recommendation that I
"Beneath The Surface" is "an Emperor's Edge novella" so I use
short-story quotes for the title, but really it's quite long enough
to be a full fledged novel, or was in the era where you had 190
page SF books instead of doorstops.
This is the first story I've read in Buroker's "Emperor's Edge"
setting, but the basic story isn't hard to figure out. The boy
emperor has been deposed and is now in hiding with a ragtag group
trying to restore him to the throne.
In the last episode our heroes apparently managed to blow up an
underwater hideout of the bad guys and are now in hiding on a
steamboat heading back for the capital city with a not quite
formulated plan to restore the Emperor and institute some sort of
new liberal constitution.
The whole thing is complicated by the fact that members of the group
whose hideout they destroyed are *also* on the boat heading for the
capital as are members of the Imperial police who know our heroes
by sight. And in the meantime, a cache of forbidden magical weapons
has been discovered in the steamship's hold, and must be destroyed
before the rebels (who are pretty magic ignorant as are most
Imperials) use them in the capital possibly killing all the
So, OK, the stakes are pretty high, but this is a fun light hearted
adventure, verging on Marxian farce at times. The riverboat setting,
and the general reluctance of the lead heroine to kill anyone lead
to lots of folks being pushed over the side and swimming to shore.
There's also plenty of romance developing among the loyalist group
and alarums and excursions and hiding in smokestacks.
The four main characters here are the loyalist leader Amaranthe
Lokdon whose irrpressible optimism never flags as she spins 1000-to-1
plans out of the thinnest threads, sneaks pastries and woos the
Empire's deadliest asassin, Guard Sergeant Evrial Yara who is in a
crisis of confidence since recent events have proved the boy emperor
is not the "rightful" ruler, given that his mother cheated on the
old emperor, her growing crush, the poppinjay Maldynado who is
perhaps not the airhead aristocrat that he seems to be and finally
Sicarius the asassin (and incidentally the true father of the boy
emperor) whose dry as toast personality may be softening under
Amaranthe's attentions. Despite the semi-farcial plot and execution,
the chracters are appealingly drawn, and real enough that I was
rooting for them. (Compare and contrast with
http://www.amazon.com/review/R15M0KCV3X65GV Katie MacAlister's awful
_Steamed_. This is the sort of book that *that* should have been,
modulo the fact that "Beneath The Surface" is not a romance).
Things chug right along, and come to a reasonable stopping point
after a satisfying number of leaps overboard, explosions, unlikely
trysts and feats of derring do.
Definitely a fun little book, and I will be looking for the next
[This is a mid-series pure farce episode. It's true to the characters
and advances the plot, but basically it's just a story for fun. If
you like it you will probably like the rest of the series]
What's not in Columbia anymore..