Saturday, November 12, 2016

Outriders

Outriders (Outriders, #1)Outriders by Jay Posey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meh. While Outriders had some interesting concepts, it really didn't do much for me and actually left me bored at times. I had a hard time trying to finish it. It's military sci fi that's more military fiction that also tries to be spy fiction. Maybe the author was confused.

It starts out with a pretty cool scene though. Captain Lincoln Suh dies on the very first sentence of the very first page of the very first chapter. And he's later brought back to a form of existence similar to living. Ah, modern science! Actually, it's obviously set at some point in the future. After all, it's "sci fi." I read someone venture that it's possibly the year 2100, or somewhere around there. The reason for this assumption is one of the characters states that her great grandparents were growing up in the time of the moon landing. But, now humanity has spread itself to the moon, Mars, and some of the other moons throughout the solar system.

Anyway, back to Suh. He's brought back to this existence, as I mentioned, but why? He's been brought back to become a member of super secret Special Forces unit in the military. He works his ass off in this secret training program, only to find out he doesn't make the cut, and he's shocked. But he is immediately brought into the fold of another group, the real group he was actually destined for: the Outriders, a Tier One Special Missions unit of the U.S. Army. It's a five person unit that he'll be leading. Two members of the team are women, one of whom is black and who grew up rich and privileged and joined the military against her parent's wishes. I know it's become incredibly popular for sci fi authors to include women in all military sci fi book military units, including special forces units, because future women are warriors you don't want to fuck with, but I've occasionally read some things I've really had a hard time buying, at the risk of sounding like a complete sexist pig. For instance, I just finished a military sci fi book in which this 5'4" petite female Marine carried a 140 pound railgun as her carry weapon. Seriously? I don't know many men who could do that. A lot of people generally consider men to possibly be slightly stronger than women as a gender, whether you buy that or not, so to believe that a petite woman could do that is really stretching things in my opinion. It's the height of PC.

I guess, aside from spaceships and space colonies, one of the things that makes this "sci fi" is the attention paid to the power armor. It's pretty cool. But you know, other than that, it didn't seem all that "sci fi" to me. It seemed more straight military to me. With a little spy/thriller thrown in. Tom Clancy in the future, maybe?

I guess one of the interesting aspects to the book is somewhat philosophical in nature. When Outriders are "killed" (again), if there's enough of their body parts left, they can be put back together and brought back to existence. If not, they have had personal backups made of them, so they can simply be replaced. Makes people like Suh wonder about one's soul. Is there one? What happens to it? What happens to the copies when they die (again)? Etc.

All that said, I found Suh to be a real annoying prick. I felt like he thought too highly of himself and his abilities. I thought his sense of leadership was overrated. I just didn't like him. He was a narcissist. And I never got a real good feel for his team. I guess I thought the character development wasn't the best I've seen. And the bad guys never felt all that bad to me. I just didn't feel too invested in this book. In other words, I just never really got into it. The most interesting thing about it was the beginning. Everything after that was downhill. I looked over the reviews I saw online. I encountered a number of four star reviews, maybe a couple of five star reviews, and quite a few two and three star reviews, similar to my own. Obviously, this isn't the best military sci fi book ever written. I think Jay Posey is talented. I just think he perhaps mixed some genres in this book, made an unlikable protagonist, and wrote a bland book. I haven't read anything else by him, but there's enough here to make me give another one of his books a chance though. Perhaps. But three stars. Not recommended.

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Running A Web Design Business From Home

Running A Web Design Business From Home: How To Get Clients, Keep Good Clients and Make Money with Your Home BusinessRunning A Web Design Business From Home: How To Get Clients, Keep Good Clients and Make Money with Your Home Business by Rob Cubbon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This tiny book/booklet is a good initial source for someone hoping to be a freelance web designer or to even start their own design business from home. It goes into how to go about setting up this type of business -- basic stuff, such as the tools you'll need, hardware, software, etc. It goes into how to get clients and how to keep them, how to get referrals, how to get clients you can establish relationships with who will give you ongoing work. While it never touches on the actual coding, it does touch on running design projects and the best way to do so. The author of this book could have expanded it and written a whole lot more, like adding about 200 more pages, but I don't think that was his intent. I think he just wanted to provide a quick start guide, for all intents and purposes, and if that was his intent, I think he succeeded pretty well. It's really not a bad book. I've read several books on this subject now, some very long and comprehensive, and this was one of the better ones. Four stars and recommended -- as a quick start guide.


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Linux Beginner's Crash Course

Linux Beginner's Crash Course: Linux for Beginner's Guide to Linux Command Line, Linux System & Linux CommandsLinux Beginner's Crash Course: Linux for Beginner's Guide to Linux Command Line, Linux System & Linux Commands by Quick Start Guides
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somewhat helpful, but very, very basic. Covers just the bare necessities, such as the shell and command line, which is good, but if you want anymore more specific, you'll want to invest in a book that is either bigger or that focuses on your own particular flavor of Linux, in my case Ubuntu. Still, a nice way to kick off an intro for a newbie.

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Orbs

Orbs (Orbs #1)Orbs by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Orbs is truly a horrible book. The science is unbelievably bad, the writing is pretty bad, the plot is hideous, predictable, and stereotypical, and I can't believe I actually bought this book. It has to do with "biomes," which scientists, psychologists, computer nerds, etc., are to be living in and working in in a large cave for several months in preparation for transition to Mars, in part to see if they can withstand the radiation they will encounter on Mars. So, then why is the biome built deep underground, shielding it from said radiation, when its stated ultimate purpose is for a trip to Mars during which it will be subjected to more radiation than it would be on Earth? That literally makes no sense. And why is the leader of this group of professionals a particle physicist? Why is she even needed? She would have nothing to do with a project like this, in terms of her profession. And why in the hell does she hate the AI so damn much? It's like she has a personal vendetta against the AI, who could and is very helpful to and for the group. For that matter, why is a psychologist needed, and even a computer nerd/hacker, who incidentally has such a damned nasty and irritating personality that you hope the Marines who show up later either beat the shit out of him or "accidentally" shoot him. To death. God, that guy is a fucking asshole!

Character development is largely lacking in this book, aside from perhaps the protagonist. Most of the other characters remain empty shells of nothingness we never really get to know. The aliens who come want to steal our water supply. Not exactly new. Okay, they're blobs, but that's not exactly exciting either. The kids are freaky, the Marines are stereotypes, the science suspect. All in all, not a good effort, not a good book. Maybe one of the author's other books might be better. I haven't read anything else by this author, so I am willing to give him another chance. Nonetheless, one star and not recommended.

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The Risen Empire

The Risen Empire (Succession, #1-2)The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I just had a hard time with this book. I guess I can deal with an undead emperor who's lived and reigned for 1600 years, his beloved little sister, and his worshiping people, as well as his enemies, the Rix, but the thing that really kind of irritated me was actually the beginning of the book -- a "thrilling" space battle. At least it's supposed to be. And at first it seems like it even might be. There's a lot of tension, action, strategy, pilots risking their ships and lives traveling tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of kilometers on a mission to rescue the Child Empress, who the Rix kidnapped. How they got to such a closely guarded person of importance and kidnapped her is beyond me, but hey, it's part of the plot so I guess you have to go with it. Okay, so I was going along until I found out that these ships were one millimeter big. And that the pilots had voluntarily had themselves permanently shrunk down to one millimeter big themselves so they could pilot these bad ass ships in an effort to save the Child Empress. Of course, the author doesn't explain how a one millimeter pilot could fit into a ship of the exact same size. It seems to me that the pilot would have to be just a little bit smaller, don't you think? But maybe I'm being nit picky. No, I don't think so. I think this is a plot flaw. Also, how many people would truly volunteer to be shrunk down to one millimeter, even if it's for their leader? Is that even believable? Moreover, the tens or hundreds of thousands of kilometers the ships travel are actually going from one room in a big house or mansion or palace or something to another room. Seriously? Holy shit! I'm sorry, but when the plot is that stupid, I stop reading! Maybe the book gets better, cause after all, it has a very good rating, but at this point, I'm pretty annoyed and wishing I were reading David Weber, Chris Bunch, or even Phillip K. Dick. Cause this is downright stupid. So, I have to say that I felt that this wasn't the book for me. After all, I have hundreds more waiting for me to read them, most probably better than this. One star, which seems harsh and possibly worth two, but I'm too annoyed to give it two. Not recommended.

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