Patrick's Picks

Special Projects Manager 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

The Ultra Thin Man (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780765336941
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order 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)

ISBN-13: 9780316226295
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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!


California Bones (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780765328557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.


Signed copies!

ISBN-13: 9780316278157
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.


The Forever Watch (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781250033819
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.


Lockstep (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780765337269
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.


The Martian (Hardcover)

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.


Red Rising (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780345539786
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.


ISBN-13: 9780765334329
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Tor Books, 12/2013

Meet Bayliss, fallen angel with an attitude and a penchant for Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, a fallen angel tapped to mark a mortal to fill some monumentally big shoes … um … wings. Seems the Archangel Gabriel -- immortal, invulnerable, invincible -- has been knocked off, rubbed out, presented with The Big Sleep. How? Why? And apparently it’s up to Bayliss to solve the mystery while shepherding a brand-spanking-new angel -- a flametop with an even bigger attitude, a twist with a Destiny. And then all of Creation turns on its end. “I knew that dame was trouble the minute I saw her.” Think of this hard-boiled piece of awesomeness as a mystery/fantasy/thriller starring a semi-angelic Philip Marlowe on the case, up to his metaphorical wing-stumps in trouble, with another War in Heaven hanging in the balance. Put your peepers on this one or you will be sorry.


ISBN-13: 9780553804690
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Del Rey, 10/2013

This time out our man Locke and his life-long boon companion Jean find themselves ‘employed’ by the enemy. They are to be key players in the “five-year game,” and as such must make certain their employers’ chosen political party wins the race. If you thought thieving was hard, try winning the game of thrones … er … fixing an election.  Never has, “Politics makes strange bedfellows” been more accurate than within these pages. So, to cut to the chase (as we so often do in these novels), you ask “Was it worth the wait?” and I answer “[expletive deleted] yeah!” Enjoy a little more of Locke’s life story and a quite a bit about that of the oft-mentioned but never talked about Sabetha, Locke’s life-long-lost love. Yes, we finally get her story, and oh yes, she’s back in Locke’s life … but she’s (of course) on the opposing side. Talk about your intolerable cruelty!


SIGNED ones are here! Order Now!

ISBN-13: 9780345537164
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Del Rey, 9/2013

See David’s review of book one, The Darwin Elevator, to get you started. But what can I say about the conclusion of The Dire Earth Trilogy without spoiling it for those of you as yet uninitiated? Or for those of you who haven’t also read book two, The Exodus Towers? Maybe a few hints regarding the enigmatic Builders, space elevators, alien “events,” subhumans, alien objects/artifacts/keys/puzzle pieces that simply must be hunted down at all cost … or perhaps even that titular Plague Forge itself? Nope, no spoilers here! If you aren’t enthralled by David’s review enough to want to see how it all comes out … or my endorsement here can’t convince you … well then you’ll just have to do without the most awesome whole-trilogy-in-one-summer of all time. Believe it. Oh, and you John W. Campbell Award for First Novel people … take note. You heard it here first.


Shaman (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780316098076
Availability: Not in stock, but can usually be shipped within the week.
Published: Orbit, 9/2013

After looking 300 years into the future with the Nebula Award-winning 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson now sets his sights 30,000+ years into the past in this tale of a young man striving to come into his own as a shaman in a strange land, a coming-of-age story in the age of ice and in the quest for fire. Comparisons to Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear are inevitable, but Robinson delivers a slightly more realistic and scientifically-based portrayal of life at the dawn of human history while simultaneously delivering a page-turning survival story. The story of Loon and his people is quite a captivating one, yes, but it’s the story of how humanity lived all those many years ago that is truly fascinating here. The more things change the more they stay the same … and it’s absolutely amazing we as a species have made it this far.


Get the Acoustik Audiobook download for your mobile device.

ISBN-13: 9780451465108
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Roc Hardcover, 7/2013

Welcome to an epic world with a dash of 18thcentury era tactics and weaponry … a world where magic exists but is, shall we say, frowned upon. Now meet our heroes: one, a tired colonial captain making the best of a bad situation, and the other, a newly-minted sergeant who just so happens to be a tortured-by-her-past woman masquerading as a man in a man’s world. Enter their new colonel: an extremely talented tactician with an agenda. Then push on as they all set off to fight a war against an enemy of cutthroats, traitors, and religious fanatics who vastly outnumbers them.  And this is not the half of it. Something’s brewing in the world … something supernatural and sinister … and their new colonel has … ambitions. The Thousand Names is excellent fare for lovers of muskets, magic, and machinations.


The 5th Wave (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780399162411
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
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.