Patrick's Picks

Patrick reads the best of speculative fiction from hard science fiction to space opera and from epic to modern fantasy ... and the occasional mystery. If it has a cutting edge plot and fully-realized characters, he's there. Of course a brief Apocalypse/Singularity once in a while or an interesting concept or even the occasional BIG explosion is always welcome.             email: patrick at mystgalaxy dot com

(Sketch by Batton Lash; Comic-Con picture [l-r] Silvia Mancini, Sam Weller, Ray Bradbury!!, gruff but lovable Patrick, Lori Tucker; Patrick again.)  

 

Click Patrick's Past Picks for older reviews.

 


 

Book List
$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780345539816
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Del Rey, 1/2015

Bloody-gory-damn hell! Where does one begin? As anyone I’ve talked to in the past year knows, I loved Red Rising. So how in the seven hells could Pierce possibly top it? I won’t go into great detail here lest I ruin your surprise, but he did it. Really.

Imagine some mad genius managed to meld the magnificent bits and pieces that make classics like A Game of Thrones and Dune so damn spectacular into something that is at once similar and yet remarkably different. This, dear friends, is merely the beginning of Golden Son. Ever read a book so enthralling that you didn’t want to put it down to eat or sleep? This is such a novel.

In short and spoiler-free, our Darrow continues his quest to make Eo’s dream a reality, and no one, not even himself, nor any Machiavellian/Arrakeen/Westerosi plot, will stop him. Golden Son starts with a bang. Then the action builds and builds and builds, never letting up, page after relentless page. Just when you think you might get a breather, Pierce kicks it up a notch. Glorious. Laugh, cry, cheer, then curse the author for making you wait for the inevitable resolution/revolution. I’m sorry I can’t put this book in your hands this minute, and I envy you reading it for the first time. Gorydamn brilliant.

--Patrick


Pacific Fire (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9780765328564
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tor Books, 1/2015

Ten years later. Ten years following the death of the Hierarch. Ten years after Daniel Blackland ate half of the Hierarch’s heart. Ten years after escaping with the Hierarch’s golem, a golem now known as Sam, and an osteomancer in his own right. He and Daniel have been on the run since then, never in one place long enough to be caught. Always on the lookout for those who would consume Sam for his power. But strange things are afoot in the Kingdom of Southern California and a quest is in the offing. Nothing will keep our young heroes from their appointed rounds. It seems that Daniel and Sam can no longer fight their destinies. Here there be dragon! I loved California Bones, the first in the series, and its sequel doesn’t disappoint. Yum! I can’t wait for number three. For fans of Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovich, and Richard Kadrey.

--Patrick


Unbreakable (Hardcover)

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780765375421
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tor Books, 1/2015

Comparisons to Starship Troopers are inevitable, so let’s get them out of the way. Yes, Unbreakable is quite similar to the Heinlein classic, less the bugs, but it is also so much more. Aside from the obvious gender swap, Promise Paen’s sensibilities are a bit deeper than those of Heinlein’s Johnny Rico, and her motivations are far more personal. After witnessing her father’s murder at the hands of raiders on the colony planet Montana, Promise joins the Republic of Aligned Worlds Marine Corp … and swiftly becomes a serious bad-ass, and a leader of marines. When duty takes her to her home planet, Promise is hailed as a hero, but she is not one to rest on any laurels, especially when she’s outnumbered and outgunned and in more than considerable harm’s way … and haunted by the ghost of her long-dead mother. Military science fiction at its best, with shades of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and a dash of awesome tech … and a significant amount of mayhem.

--Patrick


Willful Child (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9780765374899
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Tor Books, 11/2014

The day after tomorrow an alien species Transcends on our doorstep and leaves their toys behind – loaded guns in the hands of a bunch of children who shouldn’t be trusted. Humans: from species on the way out one day, to intergalactic interlopers the next. A century or so later and … “These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the…” Turns out the universe is just chock-full of idiots … and we fit right in. Herein lay the exploits of our intrepid captain and crew as they prove once and for all that fools can rush in, wreak havoc, and come out smelling like a rose. The author’s great love for a certain 60s television series is extremely evident in this farce.

– Patrick


$30.00
ISBN-13: 9780345547194
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Del Rey, 10/2014

Once more into the Void, dear friends, and let slip the mods of war. The Void still threatens the Commonwealth and it’s up to one of its founding fathers, Nigel Sheldon, to investigate … from within. But humans are not the only intelligent beings in the Void. The Fallers, mimics beyond compare, are also there, and they mean to destroy humanity utterly, and even Void-provided superpowers have little effect on their particular malevolence. The Fallers, however, do offer some hope. Unlocking their secrets may just lead to a means to destroy the Void … if Nigel can just uncover it on a world ruled by useless and corrupt leaders. Time to foment a bit of insurrection ... followed by the real challenge: Dominating the Void itself. Part one of a reported two, Peter Hamilton never fails to bring the awesome, thus cementing his status as one of my favorite authors.

--Patrick


War Dogs (Hardcover)

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780316072830
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Orbit, 10/2014

War is Hell. War on Mars is Hell-times-Hellas. Master Sergeant Michael Venn is a veteran of this particular brand of Hell. As a Skyrine, a spacefaring Marine, he has survived many a drop on the Red. When the Gurus announced their presence and gave humanity many a present, they also gave us a warning: they were not the only extraterrestrial beings in our solar system. The Antags, short for antagonists, were also here, and Mars was their current objective. Now Venn and company have boots on the ground, little intel, and a whole lot of hurt on their doorstep. Their only hope may lie with the enigmatic humans who first settled Mars … and with a secret of galactic proportions. Military SF, action and adventure, and a whole lot of thought-provoking complexity make this one a real winner … even if it is only the first of a reported trilogy.   

– Patrick

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9780399162428
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Putnam Juvenile, 5/2014

Following the harrowing events of The 5th Wave, Cassie, Sammy, Zombie, Ringer, and their comrades are struggling to survive. The human world has been devastated. Billions are dead. Mankind is on the way out. Or is it? Hope, though but a tiny spark, still exists. Like our young heroes, the remnants of humanity watch the falling skies, praying that the edge of tomorrow doesn’t bring them oblivion. I can’t give you much (no spoilers!), but I can tell you that The Infinite Sea takes The 5th Wave ball and runs with it, and then jams it down your baby sister’s throat. Take all of the augmented teen angst you can handle, and then add a sprinkle of good old fashioned betrayal, a few enigmatic aliens, and the end of the world as you know it. Oh, and let us not forget rats of all kinds. It’s always about the rats.

--Patrick

Exo (Hardcover)

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780765336545
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Tor Books, 9/2014

In Impulse we met Cent, teenage daughter of Jumpers Davy and Millie … and experienced the angst of going to a new school, meeting people, falling in love, and running … okay, jumping … away from some really bad guys. Now she’s set her sights a bit higher … okay a whole lot higher. Space: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of Space Girl, intrepid teleporting astronaut. Imagine if you will that you could literally and figuratively “jump” into space. Think of the fun you’d have. Hell, just reading about it was a whole lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed this outing of our favorite teleporting family and even learned quite a bit about the ups and downs, ahem, of space travel. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Eryie, Fortress of Solitude … those bad guys aren’t just sitting on their hands, nor is everyone else on the planet below.

--Patrick


The Ultra Thin Man (Hardcover)

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780765336941
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Tor Books, 8/2014

The year is 2113. Our heroes are two agents of the Network Intelligence Organization, gumshoes of the highest order. After the apparent suicide of a known associate, and an antimatter attack that destroyed a moon and wrecked an entire planet, Gumshoe #1 is on the trail of the alien leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, his partner, Gumshoe #2, is on the hunt for those responsible for framing him and his partner for treason most foul. And just who, or what, is behind it all? That, my dear friends, is the question. The Ultra Thin Man is a mystery-thriller wrapped in science fiction, a Fantastic First practically gift-wrapped for Mysterious Galaxy. Interstellar conspiracy, enigmatic aliens, bizarre drugs, body-morphing technology, “Thin Men,” and the fate of the Union … just of few of the elements that make The Ultra Thin Man awesomeyay. I just love this stuff.

–Patrick, no, the other one


The Young World (Hardcover)

$19.00
ISBN-13: 9780316226295
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 7/2014

All of the little children and adults are gone. The Sickness took them. Now it's Lord of the Flies and the City, New York City. Tribes of teenagers fight over what's left. It's a dog eat cat eat rat world, The Young World. When one such tribe’s resident Brainbox uncovers the possibility of a cure, it’s time for a grand quest … starting at the New York Public Library. That’s right, sports fans, the library. Actual books! Then the fun really begins.

Acclaimed film writer/director Chris Weitz brings all of his talent to bear on the end of the world as we know it … and adds all kinds of teen angst. Seems most of YA today is Apocalyptic. Why? Why not? Because it’s awesome. Deal with it, and read this book. The Young World is the perfect summer read, and it cries out for a sequel. Bring it on!

–Patrick


California Bones (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9780765328557
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Tor Books, 6/2014

Osteomancy: Consume something or someone’s bones (and sometimes flesh) and gain their power (yum). For Daniel Blackland of the City of Los Angeles in the Kingdom of Southern California, this is a way of life, and of death.  Daniel has been living off the grid ever since he witnessed his father’s murder (and subsequent consumption) by the oh-so evil Heirarch (yum). Now his godfather has presented him with an offer he can’t refuse. He must breach the unbreachable and retrieve, among other things, an unfinished sword: his father’s legacy … a sword made of Daniel himself.

California Bones is for people who like Jim Butcher, Richard Kadrey, and maybe a little Scott Lynch and James Ellroy on the literary side, and then a bit of Ocean’s Eleven and a dash of Silence of the Lambs (yum) for the cinematic side. You’ll love this gem. I feel it in my bones.

--Patrick

Signed copies!


$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780316278157
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Orbit, 6/2014

Like most girls her age, Melanie goes to school. She likes learning and she just loves Miss Justineau. Unlike other kids, however, hers is an extremely regimented life. Every morning, men in uniform come to her chamber, strap her into a chair, and then roll her into the classroom. No school on the weekends. Saturdays are really boring, but Sundays are the worst. On Sunday she and her classmates get their only meal of the week. On Sunday they feed. Melanie is very, very smart, the smartest in her class, maybe the smartest little girl in the whole world … a world after the Breakdown. Melanie is a hungry, but unlike adult hungries, she can still talk and think and reason. Melanie has all of her higher brain functions, yes, but when the restraints come off, the animal comes out. Carey turns the zombie mythos on its head. Excruciatingly tasty.

--Patrick


The Forever Watch (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9781250033819
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Thomas Dunne Books, 3/2014

Earth is a memory. All that is left of humanity is on a thousand-year trip to a new home … and not particularly humane. Society is extremely ordered. Everyone has their place and everyone works. Occupations are chosen early in one’s life, implanted really. But something is not right. There are witnesses to some rather gruesome deaths, but records of same are missing from the ship’s logs, the victims simply marked as “Retired.” A mission-critical city planner and her policeman lover are on the case, surreptitiously. To do things in the open would attract attention from Information Security, resulting in all manner of bad, including Adjustment. When the real truth behind it all comes out, things get really interesting, really fast.

If you like Peter Hamilton and/or Alastair Reynolds … and if Logan’s Run excites you, give this one a spin.  You won’t be sorry … until ISec comes calling.

--Patrick 


Lockstep (Hardcover)

$26.99
ISBN-13: 9780765337269
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Tor Books, 3/2014

While on a surveying mission for his family, young Toby McGonigal’s spaceship was severely damaged, forcing him into a cold sleep of who knew how long. Flash forward 14,000 years. Toby is found and revived into a brave new empire … an empire based on his family’s lockstep hibernation technology, an empire that skips forward through time. Lockstep: one month awake, thirty years asleep. Heck of a way to keep everyone on the same page when travel between planets takes forever. Now our boy Toby is stuck between a planet and a supernova, with tyrant siblings (yes, they’re still alive) who want him out of the picture on one side and a cadre of new “friends” who would use him as a political tool on the other. What’s a trillionaire boy to do? The Sleeper has awakened, Ender, and by Vorkosigan, the enemy’s gate is down. Excellent premise; Hugo-Nebula worthy.

--Patrick 


The Martian (Hardcover)

$24.00
ISBN-13: 9780804139021
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Crown, 2/2014

Astronaut Mark Watney is marooned on Mars. No hard feelings for those that left him, though. After all, the last they saw of him was him impaled by a radio antenna and sailing off into a Martian dust storm. So he’s stuck here with no way to communicate with home and limited resources. His mission now is a simple one: Survive. For four years give or take. On a year’s worth of rations and his own ingenuity. Quite simple.  Meanwhile, Earthside, some eager beaver snaps a few satellite pics in hopes of using what was left behind to get another mission out of NASA. But lo! What’s this? Things are not where they left them. He’s alive! A new space race is born. Save Watney! Robinson Crusoe on Mars! (Not the movie.) Plus Apollo 13. Plus 1000CCs of adrenaline and several shots of vodka.  God bless the indomitable human spirit.

Watney is one brilliant smart-ass and the whole novel reads like a heartwarming/stopping action movie ... and I loved every page-turning, non-cynical, hero-filled word of it.

--Patrick


Red Rising (Hardcover)

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780345539786
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Del Rey, 2/2014

Darrow is a Red, one of the lowest of the low – designed, bred, and conditioned to mine the depths of Mars for the materials needed to terraform the solar system. His sacrifices today will give far-future generations a far better existence. Obedience is life. But it is all a lie. Mars has been habitable for generations, and Darrow’s caste are mere slaves upon whose backs the ruling class Golds maintain their absolute power over Society.

After his beloved wife Eo is martyred for daring to dream and to sing of freedom, Darrow himself is hanged for daring to bury her. But he does not die. The Sons of Ares have a mission for him, and for this mission he has been rescued … and will be reborn. He and his people will have their vengeance – nay, they will have justice. And Eo’s dream will be made real.

Red Rising in a nutshell: The Chronicles of a brave-hearted gladiator who discovers that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress on the dunes and in the Houses of a moving and not-so Red Mars where The Hunger Games are used to keep the oh-so colorful sheep from looking up and discovering The Penultimate Truth. Then it’s off to the Ender Vorkosigan Battle School where The Gods Themselves play A Game of Thrones before The Fall of Hyperion. Obviously a student of science fiction and fantasy’s greatest works, Pierce Brown takes the elements that made those works so great, makes them his own, and distills them into something quite remarkable. Bloodydamn awesome, in fact. Rarely am I so enthralled by a novel that I must read it straight through. Red Rising is such a novel.

  Patrick


The 5th Wave (Hardcover)

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9780399162411
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Putnam Juvenile, 5/2013

Invasion! The first three waves were bad enough … first the lights went out, then the tides rolled in, then the plague ... seven billion dead. Then the silent fourth wave turned those who survived against each other. Who is friend and who is foe? Then comes the fifth wave …

First there’s young Cassie, one of the “lucky” few who have survived so far, on her own and trying to make good on a promise made to her little brother. Then comes young “Zombie,” so named because he all but died of the plague and has now been reborn. Then there’s Cassie’s little brother Sammy, taken. And then there’s the Other …

The 5th Wave is one of the most fast-paced young adult books I’ve ever read – a melting pot of Falling Skies, The War of the Worlds, V, The Host, I am Number Four, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Walking Dead, They Live, The Arrival, The Passage, Twilight, Full Metal Jacket, and perhaps even a bit of The Hunger Games … all teen angst and dystopian sf vs. alien monsters from inner and outer space. A great deal of action and adventure and survival story packed into a thought-provoking novel you may just read in one sitting. How far would you go to survive? Awesome.

–Patrick