Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's utterly revolting to behold*

 Hello! Welcome to my fifth "books read this year" update. This post covers books 22 to 27. As well as the ongoing re-read of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine "relaunch", there are a couple of new books, and a couple of old, pre-read books.
 As before, the "blurb" or publishers' description is in italics, and I've added some observations and/or background of my own below.

22. Bertie the Balloon at the Zoo, by Kim Robinson & Aneta Neuman (2016)

 Have you met Bertie the Balloon?

 He's big. He's red. He's squishy. He's round.
 With Bertie there's always adventure to be found.

 Follow him through the highs and the lows.
 His encounters depend on where the wind blows.

 It's the zoo that challenges Bertie today.
 Crocodiles, monkeys and tigers all get in his way.

 But, even through trouble, Bertie keeps striving on.
 Believe in yourself. Never give up. Be brave and carry on.

 I bought this book for Babyzilla's birthday. As luck would have it, my friend Kim's latest book—this one had just been published, so that was one present sorted. I also got a copy for a friend's little girl, while I was at it. And you can purchase a copy (or several) for a little monster darling in your own life by clicking this Facebook link and messaging Kim, or going to one of the UK stockists. And, Bertie the Balloon is now available on Amazon!
 And don't forget the first book: Bertie the Balloon at the Fairground

23. Warpath (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine),
 by David Mack (2006)

 They were created to be killing machines. Highly intelligent, resourceful, and deceptively complex, the Jem'Hadar are a species engineered for war and programmed at the genetic level for one purpose: to fight until death as soldiers of the sprawling stellar empire known as the Dominion. No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years, and not even their masters, the shape-shifting Founders, know what such a creature is capable of becoming were it to be freed of its servitude.
 One Founder, however, has dared to wonder.
 Appointed by Odo himself to learn peaceful coexistence aboard Deep Space 9, Taran'atar, an Honored Elder among the Jem'Hadar, had for months been a staunch, if conflicted, ally to the crew of the station, ever struggling to understand the mission on which he was sent… until something went horrifically wrong.
 Consumed by self-doubt and an ever-growing rage, Taran'atar has lashed out against those he was sworn to aid. While Captain Kira Nerys and Lieutenant Ro Laren both lie near death aboard DS9, their assailant has taken a hostage and fled into Cardassian space, pursued by Commander Elias Vaughn on the USS Defiant. But as the hunt unfolds, Taran'atar's true objective becomes increasingly less certain, as the rogue Jem'Hadar leads the Defiant to a discovery even more shocking than his crime.

24. Fearful Symmetry (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), by Olivia Woods (2008)

 In our universe, a Cardassian sleeper agent—Iliana Ghemor—was once surgically altered to resemble and replace resistance fighter Kira Nerys, future Starfleet captain and hero of the planet Bajor's liberation. That plan never reached fruition, and the fate of the agent remained unknown...until now.
 Robbed of the past sixteen years, Iliana Ghemor is back with a vengeance. Over a decade and a half of imprisonment and abuse by her former masters has brought her to the brink of madness, sustained only by the twisted belief that she is, in fact, the real Kira Nerys. She has already made one near-successful attempt on the real Kira's life, but instead of assuming the identity of the woman she was intended to replace, Ghemor has set her sights on the most unexpected target of all: Kira's other double, the malicious Intendant, Bajor's iron-fisted ruler in the alternate reality commonly known as the "Mirror Universe." But far more is unfolding in the Mirror Universe than Ghemor realizes, and the heroes of Deep Space Nine somehow must stop the false Kira without derailing the delicate flow of history that must unfold if both universes, and countless others, are to survive.
 Parallel stories following Iliana Ghemor and the real Kira Nerys reflect and build upon each other in this Two-in-One "Flip Book," the continuation of the ongoing DS9 saga.

 I remember my anticipation for this book was maddening! The previous book in the DS9 relaunch (Warpath, above) was released in 2006, and this one didn't come out until 2008, due to a change of authors amongst other things. It was worth the wait, though, and not just for the "flip book" format - two novellas, each with their own cover, read from the outside in.

* Post title from page 53 of side two (Ataan Rhukal, a Cardassian soldier and Iliana Ghemor's boyfriend, describing a Bajoran jumja stick)

25. Elusive Salvation (Star Trek: The Original Series), by Dayton Ward (2016)

 The Arctic Circle, 1845: Escaping the tyranny under which their people have lived for generations, aliens from a distant planet crash land on Earth’s inhospitable frozen wastes. Surviving the harsh conditions will pose a challenge, but over time the aliens will migrate to more populated areas, with decades passing as they work to conceal their presence from their former oppressors, who continue to hunt them at any cost.

San Francisco, 2283: When a mysterious craft is detected entering the solar system, Admiral James Kirk is dispatched by Starfleet to confront the vessel. He meets with an emissary from the Iramahl, a previously unknown alien race who have come in search of their brothers and sisters thought to have gone missing in this area of space centuries earlier. Having recently thrown off the last chains of subjugation by another species, the Ptaen, they now believe their lost people hold the key to saving their entire race from eventual extinction.

New York, 1970: Roberta Lincoln, young protégé of the mysterious agent Gary Seven, is shocked when she receives the oddest request for help—from the future....

This appears to be getting a lot of praise in Trek-dom, but it just didn't do it for me. The plight of the aliens didn't engage me, and neither did the established characters like Kirk, Spock and McCoy (although, I quite enjoyed Roberta Lincoln), and there was far too much extraneous information about the 20th century U.S. armed forces. 

26. StormWatch: Force of Nature, by Warren Ellis, Tom Raney, and Randy Elliot (2000)

 "Didn't you ever want to change the world?"
 These are the words of Weatherman Henry Bendix, controller of StormWatch - The United Nations Special Crisis Intervention Team. Determined to become more than a political firefighter when  problems arise, Bendix reorganizes his regiment from the ground up. Recruiting the electric Jenny Sparks, city-symbiote Jack Hawksmore, and the infamous assassin Rose Tattoo, he adds the covert strike-team StormWatch Black to his army of super-beings. With a proactive attitude and a take-no-prisoners approach, Weatherman transforms a once-cliched police force into a global powerhouse.
 Not your average superheroes. They do save the world, but not at the expense of lots of horrible, gory, violent deaths. There's also far too much info-dumping to establish who everyone is and what they're supposed to be doing. 
 I can't believe I ever liked this! 

27. The Ship who Sang, by Anne McCaffrey (1969)

 The brain was perfect, the tiny, crippled body useless. So technology rescued the brain and put it in an environment that conditioned it to live in a different kind of body - a spaceship.
 Here the human mind, more subtle, infinitely more complex than any computer ever devised, could be linked to the massive and delicate strengths, the total recall, and the incredible speeds of space.
 But the brain behind the ship was entirely feminine - a complex, loving, strong, weak, gentle savage - a personality, all-woman, called Helva...

 Ug. This was a bit of a slog to get through. I'd forgotten quite how overly dramatic and theatrical most of the character interactions are. Plus, it felt like a lot of the conversations had been left out as the bits that we are privvy to seem to be constantly on the verge of histrionics, or go off on whiplash-inducing tangents.
 The various viewpoints and themes in this book (sex, gender, drugs, Bob Dylan) clearly date it to the 1960s, but I found it easy to accept these things as they're woven into the universe which is described.

 I think I need to read some Calvin & Hobbes for the next update to get over all this!  


  1. Oh, good...I'll pop back when C & H feature. I get "Wars" and"Trek" a bit mixed up...

    1. Then may I direct you to the comments of my first Not the 2016 Infomaniac Book Challenge for some clarification.

  2. Thanks for recommendation on the Bertie the Balloon series. My minions will love them.

    Warpath & Fearful Symmetry sound exciting & intriguing. I am curious to learn more.

    It sounds like Stormwatch & Elusive Salvation suffer from info bloat, too much extraneous details that only fills the pages, adding nothing to advance the plot nor make the story more engaging. Moby Dick was the worst book I ever read for being mostly info bloat.

    When I read The Ship who Sang as a preteen, I remember being creeped out at the idea of a tiny handicapped baby whose brain was removed & reused to operate a ship. I was like, ewwww! Then Voyager came along & made cyborg babies/children seem so cool.

    1. I won't bother reading Moby Dick, then. Although I have very recently seen In the Heart of the Sea based on the "true story" behind Moby Dick and, luckily, it didn't suffer from bloat at all. The words 'Chris Hemsworth' and 'Leviathan' had me sold!

      What happened to that Borg baby? The other Borg kids were dropped off at their respective homeworlds (except Icheb), but I don't remember the fate of the baby. Where did it go? Did it end up in one of Neelix's recipes?

  3. I am still slogging through a book about pharaohs and treasure and things that are buried...