Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hell & Gone (Charlie Hardie #2)

Hell & Gone
Duane Swierczynski
Available Now!

Picking up directly after the events of Fun and Games, we find Charlie Hardie in the clutches of The Industry or The Accident People or Secret America, or whatever you want to call them. While Hardie’s former colleague is on the lookout for him, finding him proves difficult. “They” don’t screw around when they have a task to accomplish and burying the whereabouts of Hardie is their number one objective.

Upon awakening, Hardie finds himself deep underground in a prison somewhere on Earth. I know that’s a little vague but Hardie knows next to nothing about where he is, what day it is or even what the time is so he’s more than slightly lost. Charged with the task of running the prison as Warden, Charlie is responsible for detaining prisoners with backgrounds so devious, neither himself nor his staff are to be told why they’re there. The punishment for not playing along? His family’s safety is on the line.

I’m really digging this series although I have to admit, it took me a while to really get behind this book. I feel like Swierczynski had a lot to live up to after the events of Fun and Games and while it took a bit to get going, he finished very, very strong. A few of the confrontations near the end came across as both intense and hilarious, especially his dialogue (view spoiler).

I seriously have no idea where Swierczynski is going from here. The final pages present a scenario so ridiculous that I can’t help but be interested. It’s unfortunate that there appears to be a delay in it’s release but I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Also posted @ Every Read Thing.

Trust no one

David Moody
Infected Books, 2012
Available Online

Reviewer: Trudi
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

David Moody fans (or sci-fi junkies) will be pleased to note that this title is currently available online for free. And it's pretty damn fine. Not as strong as Moody's Hater, but perhaps it isn't even fair to compare the two because in a lot of ways they are very different stories.

Imagine if you will your average particle accelerator -- the Hadron Collider if you please. But instead of smashing sub-atomic particles into one another, let's say you're David Moody and you decide you want to take Shaun of the Dead and violently crash it into M. Night's Signs and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind until you're left with this existential, entertaining mash-up of a story that's reflective, funny, and chilling in its probabilities.

Tom Winter is your average English bloke who has left his high pressure job in the city and retreated to the very small coastal town of Thatcham. His parents have recently died and he and his younger brother are trying to put their lives back together. Into this small town an unidentified aircraft of behemoth size deposits aliens from an advanced civilization. They claim they have come in peace. They claim they only want our help to get home. But are they telling the truth?

Moody is not giving us an action-packed, pulse-pounding story about an alien invasion here; rather, he's focusing on the psychological and philosophical ramifications of human behavior in the face of a peaceful close encounter of the third kind. It's pretty interesting actually the way characters behave, how they gradually grow to accept the aliens as non-threatening visitors, the questions it makes them ask of themselves and of one another, the deep desire to weigh in on meatier moral issues and "the meaning of life."

It's a slow build that did feel like it goes on a little too long in parts. I started to get a bit twitchy. I just wanted something to happen. In a way, that's very effective writing though. If the aliens do land in peace and it turns out to be pretty innocuous and ordinary, our human reactions might very well be to wish for something more outlandish and mind-blowing. This can't be all there is? Surely, there's something else to occur.

When the direction of the story does change, it happens abruptly and is over quickly. I guess I wish there had been more of a balance between the first three parts and parts four and five. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it or that I don't appreciate what Moody is trying to do here, I just longed for more B-movie action and less navel-gazing character angst.

For more of an adrenaline punch to the solar-plexus, definitely check out Moody's Hater trilogy.

This review is also posted to Goodreads.

Do you believe in aliens?

Area 51
Reviewed by Stephanie
Non fiction
4 out of 5 stars

"Wow!  It sure is hot in the desert.  Hey, why does that rattle snake have two heads?"

"I can tell you……."

"Oh, hello…I didn‘t see you there, just talking to myself and the snake---s.  I’m Stephanie, and who are you and what are you doing in the middle of the Mojave Desert?"

"I could ask you the same thing.  I’m Annie Jacobson, I wrote a book about Area 51.  It’s just over the hill there."

"The hill with the two Hummers on it?  Hey, and there seems to be a couple guys with guns…..uh……pointing in our direction."

"Yuup, but it doesn’t technically exist."  

"Why?  What do you mean by “doesn’t technically exist”?  Those guns exist.   Is it because of the aliens?  Oh it’s because of the aliens!  I KNEW it!"

"Yes, I talk about the Roswell incident a bit in the beginning of the book, but then I get into all the crazy military secrets.  What I mean by Area 51 not existing is that it has always been a Black Operation, which means our federal government denies it existence even though it sits right over there……as you so astutely observed."

"Thanks! So you mean the President and the rest of the government, close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and go LALALALALALA………..?"

"Kind of, but not really.  No president has ever “known” about Area 51.  Vannevar Bush, the engineer that was the primary organizer for the Manhattan Project started up Area 51 because he believed some things are on a need to know basis, and the president just didn’t need to know.  In fact, whoever works at Area 51 is on a need to know basis.   You only know about your specific field of work and that’s all.  I guess no one in that place knows the whole story."

"Did you say Vannever BUSH?  Oh god!  Those Bush’s are freaking everywhere and they ruin everything!  This explains so much……"

"There is no evidence that Vannever and W.  Have any familial ties.  Relax Stephanie."'

"Oh."         "Sorry."       "continue."

After WWII the United States government recruited Nazi scientists, because they were the best in the world, forgave all their odious crimes and set them up with pretty swanky jobs at Area 51.  This was called operation Paperclip.  The Soviet Union recruited some of their own.   Joseph Stalin used them to come up with some inventions as well."

"Uuck!  We had known Nazis on our soil doing god knows what………and we called it Operation Paperclip?  That doesn’t sound very intimidating.  Why not Operation Commando Eagle or something like that?  What were they up to anyway?  Investigating aliens, right?"

"Commando Eagle?  Isn’t that an Eagle without underpants?........ Anyway, they were doing all sorts of things, mostly testing nuclear bombs.  Bomb after bomb after bomb…….it’s a wonder the planet is still intact.   It’s a damn miracle any of us are alive.   For one of the tests they put a bunch of sheep, rodents, and 109 beagles in cages, blew up a bomb to see how it would affect them.   Turns out, plutonium is only lethal if inhaled; you can touch it, no worries.  The aliens, yeah, sort of……I tease about them again in the middle of the book to keep you reading."

"Awe, 109 beagles? They wouldn’t do that kind of crap today; PETA would be all over their ass!  By the way, teasing isn’t nice Annie."

"I know, I’m getting to it.  Couple of interesting tid bits I need to share first, when they tested some manned rockets they noticed a bunch of black dots high in the atmosphere.  It freaked them out until they found out they were dead bugs blasted so high in all the thermal nuclear bomb tests they were sent into orbit.  One of the scientist at Area 51 was known for inventing something  that kept the astronauts penises from freezing to the urine tube when they had to pee……….and they had this spy operation they called Acoustic Kitty, where they implanted listening devices in cats, that didn’t work out so well…..and…….."

"ANNIE!  The little grey men please.  By the way, since this stuff is mostly classified, how do you know all of this information?"

"I interviewed one of the original Paperclip scientists for a year right before he died".


"Ever heard of Occam's razor?"

"Yeah, given a bunch of solutions to a problem, the simplest one is the most plausible one."

"Right.  Well…….."

"If you decide to read the spoilers beyond the break below you will find out why we can’t have nice things Stephanie……."

"Thanks Annie,  I’m scared, I think I peed myself a little. I think I'll go home now."