User Profile

Frank Burns Locked account

Joined 1 year, 5 months ago

Mostly Sci-Fi with some fantasy and non-fiction thrown in. I would describe my tastes as eclectic.

This link opens in a pop-up window

Frank Burns's books

C. J. Cherryh: Chanur's legacy (1993, Daw Books) 4 stars

A satisfying conclusion

4 stars

And so we reach the end. Despite my initial doubts about 'cats etc in space' I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying this. It very much fitted well into Cherryh's oeuvre and if space politics and economic shenanigans are your jam then all of her output is in this space. This was a fine finisher to the series and the resolution was particularly satisfying for me. A definite recommend for the whole series. Just don't think too hard about cats in space.

C.J. Cherryh: Chanur's Homecoming (Hardcover, 1986, Phantasia Press) 4 stars

Space cats go home

4 stars

Everything is coming to the boil and the protagonist finds that the comforts of home are not so comfortable after all. I fair tore through this as it was very enjoyable, a speed not fully explained by it being a holiday read. If you have got this far into the series and enjoyed the series then this is very much things coming to a head. A compulsive and very good read. Recommended.

C.J. Cherryh: The Kif Strike Back (Alliance-Union Universe) (Paperback, 1991, DAW) 4 stars

More cats in space.

4 stars

Holiday reading so I am blitzing through this whole series. Of the 5 books the final 4 are set at the same time and revolve around one set piece of 'the humans are back, ho shit'. Some crunchy considerations of political economy and how a star faring trading alliance would be shaken by the appearance of the unknown all feature in this. Again, I was thoroughly entertained so it is a recommend.

C.J. Cherryh: Chanur's Venture (Chanur) (Paperback, 1987, DAW) 4 stars

Cats in space, continues

4 stars

I must have got past my reservations about the anthromorphised animals because I really got into this. Set a year or so after the events of the first book this fair picks up the pace and gets truly stuck in to the chaos that an eight way first contact scenario would engender. This one also starts in on the subplot of gender politics and that is a nice bass note running under the space hijinks. Holiday reading so I blitz through them (hence short reviews) but a definite recommend.

C.J. Cherryh: The Pride of Chanur (Alliance-Union Universe) (Paperback, 1982, DAW) 5 stars

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt …

CJ Cherryh's cats in space.

4 stars

CJ Cherryh has been insanely prolific throughout her career and as a result I never really got round to either the Chanur or Foreigner books, despite having read most everything else. I dived into this with no preconceptions but I can't give an honest review without a brief disquisition on portraying alien races in fiction. Whilst I understand that the author has to give referents that readers can relate to, making aliens just be anthromorphised animals is a tad trite. In this case, the book is told from the viewpoint of a feline analogue (Decision at Doona has so much to answer for) and the only planetary biome described is suspiciously Terran like. This knocks me out of my willing suspension of disbelief as the odds of this are just astronomically against. I say this, accepting that this might just be a me thing. Apart from that, I enjoyed this. …

reviewed Winter's Gifts by Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch: Winter's Gifts (2023, Orion Publishing Group, Limited) 4 stars

Another fine Rivers novella.

4 stars

Aaronovitch does just keep banging stuff out to a high quality level. With this novella he expands a bit upon his American character we first encountered way back in Whispers Under Ground. Clearly, he wanted to stretch himself a bit and try on a US 'voice'. Seemed pretty successful to me but take that with a pinch of salt as I am a grumpy Scotsman. An entertaining tale of ice monsters and sins of the past coming back to haunt you. Literally. Like all Rivers output its a recommend and this one probably sneaks into the more 4.5 than 4 star territory.

John Scalzi: Head on 4 stars

Head On is a science fiction police procedural novel by American writer John Scalzi. The …

Perfectly cromulent Scalzi.

4 stars

I had had this one in the queue for a while and finally had a slot to read it in. The premise of this Scalziverse is 'police procedural in a world like our own except 3pc of the population run about in robots'. Scalzi has a lot of fun imagining how this type of thing will play out and we have a lot of fun following along with him. I feel, this series is maybe not his absolute best (Interdependency, Kaiju) but this is still damn fine entertainment. I thoroughly enjoyed this. No more really need be said. Recommended.

J. Zachary Pike: Son of a Liche (Paperback, 2018, Gnomish Press LLC) 4 stars

Bought and started the second one straight after the first, need I say more?

4 stars

Again, quality entertainment was had. To be fair, this is a second book in a series and suffers from some of the usual pitfalls therein. It is a little slow to get going but once it does it heads of to a nicely satisfying conclusion. Perhaps less of the humour and comparisons to Pratchett, Holt et al this time which may have contributed to it being a little slower to get started. I am still thumping down a recommend though.

J. Zachary Pike: Orconomics (Paperback, 2014, Gnomish Press LLC) 4 stars

Top rated self-publishing here.

4 stars

I picked this up based on a review by Mark Lawrence which actually made me roll my eyes. He was banging on about how he needed his fantasy to be heroic in scope and full of big battles etc. Basically the same old, same old that has put me off in recent years. Which is why he never got into Pratchett. You can see where the eye rolling came in. He did, however, give this a grudging thumbs up so I thought I should have a look. I am glad I did as this was very good. I am not entirely sure the resemblance to Pratchett is anything more than this book has a humourous layer over some of the harder stuff. If anything, when the writer is doing humour he reminds me more of early Tom Holt than Pterry but there are indeed giggles to be had within these …

reviewed Hawk by Steven Brust (The Vlad Taltos novels)

Steven Brust: Hawk (2014) 5 stars

Vlad Taltos has a price on his head. It isn't the first time, but what's …

Vlad gets to go home.

4 stars

This novel, wraps up the whole 'chased by the fantasy mafia' thing that has been going on for about 9 books now. It's a tightly plotted caper novel with all Brust's trademark flourishes. Read in less than a day on this re-read because of the pull of seeing how it all turns out. A sign of a very good thriller. Looking back on my 2014 score, it's too high. I was handing out too many 5 stars then. This, while one of the high points of the series, doesn't quite hit the heights of Dzur and as such it is a strong 4.5. Obviously still recommended though!

reviewed Tiassa by Steven Brust (Vlad Taltos, #13)

Steven Brust: Tiassa (2011, Tor) 4 stars

Long ago, one of the gods fashioned an artifact called the silver tiassa. To Devera …

This one is mostly about nobility, I think.

4 stars

There are three tales in one in this book. Spread over different parts of the timeline but all involve the chasing of a McGuffin object that has cosmic significance. Each of the tales is enjoyable in it's own right and bear all the hallmarks of the series. One tale, however, is told in an antiquated and slightly pompous style which some may find a little grating. There is a point to that, of course. Whilst it is a slight bit of Dumas homage, Brust here borrows the style of writing from his Khaavren romances. Now, I bounced off those books because of that style of writing but the penny finally dropped for me on this re-read of Tiassa. It was a perfect way to reflect on the prejudices and self-involvement of the nobility. I mean, sure, they may be basically decent people engaged in public service but they are still …

Steven Brust: Iorich (Paperback, 2011, Tor Books, Brand: Tor Books) 4 stars

Legal shenanigans in the fantasy world.

4 stars

A friend gets into some legal trouble and this calls our protagonist back to the city. Of course, the fantasy mafia haven't given up on killing him. This book is largely a discourse on justice. On it's uneven application and how it is often subservient to politics. Brust spares no blushes here and it is hard for even the protagonist's armour of cynicism to insulate him from these things. Despite the weighty considerations this is a book that skips along. It has some deft plotting and some nice snarky humour about a variety of things (both trademarks of this series). I have always felt (this is a re-read, remember) that this is a 4.5 book and as such I am happy to recommend.

Steven Brust: Jhegaala (Vlad) (Hardcover, 2008, Tor Books) 4 stars

This one is a slow burner.

4 stars

Our protagonist decides to return to his homeland to find out more about his mother. He is still being chased by the fantasy mafia so it is something to do. Of course, he runs right into a nasty little situation. At heart this is a book about ignorance. It also wants to talk about the tension between peasantry and early industrialisation. As I say, this is a slow burner. It takes a while to get going but when it does, Brust has your head spinning trying to figure out what's going on. I particularly enjoyed the resolution on this one which I won't spoiler by explaining why. Another quality installment in the series. Recommended.

Steven Brust: Dzur (2006, Tor) 5 stars

A masterpiece.

5 stars

This simply is a masterpiece. I took a few days with this one because I was savouring it. Unusually for these books, this follows straight on from the events in the previous. After all that cosmic powers guff and having been stuck in the wilderness for years, Vlad decides to go for a good meal. That, is the framing device for this novel and it is absolute genius. You are as interested in Brust's descriptions of the food and the tastes as of that meal you are about the fantasy mafia shenanigans that Vlad's ex-wife draws him in to. The beats of the meal become the beats of the story. Under all that is a disquisition about heroism and it's ramifications. I swear on this re-read (and I have read this book a few times) I still didn't know how it was all going to come together. Not through forgetting …

reviewed Issola by Steven Brust (Vlad Taltos, #9)

Steven Brust: Issola (Paperback, 2002, Tor Fantasy) 4 stars

A book mostly about, courtesy, of all things.

4 stars

We are now in a run on these books where the quality just does not dip until Vallista. This, like the book before, is another strong 4.5. Ostensibly this should be the most straightforward 'big fantasy' book of the series. Vlad is still running around in the wilderness avoiding the fantasy mafia, two of his powerful friends go missing and the most unlikely minor character comes to get him to help. Cosmic powers type shenanigans ensue. Gods and monsters battle for the fate of the world. Except, Brust skips by that lot as if to say, boring (because with Fantasy as a whole, it has largely become boring). I mean there's also a locked room thing going on with various Zelazny/Dumas type theatrics there but that's still just a side issue. That minor character that comes to the fore? She is all about courtesy, and courtesy is the meat of …