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Tag: Books (page 1 of 9)

Review: “Frontlines” series by Marko Kloos

Over the last year, I’ve read the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos. Here’s my review of how the entire collection of military science-fiction novels stacks up.

The year is 2108. A young Andrew Grayson is a welfare rat living in one of the North American Commonwealth’s many Public Relations Clusters, PRCs. It’s a overcrowded, crime-ridden, community where day-to-day survival is the main focus for most people. There are only two ways out. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service in the war against the Sino-Russian Alliance.

Andrew decides to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. This decision puts him on a decade long path from welfare rat to experienced military officer. Crushing welfare riots as a foot solider in the Territorial Army, or battling the SRA for off-world real estate is a tough and grueling job. But it’s a walk in the park compared to the dangers Andrew faces when blood thirsty aliens suddenly show up on humanity’s doorstep.

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“The Running Man” by Stephen King

Would you risk your own life to make sure your daughter survives? Here’s my The Running Man review.

I read The Running Man well over two years ago, so it’s about time I sat down and wrote a proper review. It was the third book I read in my ongoing A Book A Month effort, and I gave it a handsome 4 out of 5 score back then.

The Running Man is one of well-known author Stephen King‘s first novels. Originally published in 1982 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, the novel is set in America in 2025. That was the far away future for King at the time, but it’s the very near future for us now. Fortunately, the world is (probably) in better shape in 2025 than King imagined it.

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“All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

A security-for-hire cyborg becomes self-aware, and secretly names itself “Murderbot”. What can possibly go wrong? Here’s my review of All Systems Red by Martha Wells.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests. They are shadowed by their company-supplied cyborg – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module. The SecUnit is there to provide security, but the operation is quiet and uneventful. At least until a massive creature suddenly crashes out of a crater, and attacks one of the expedition members, Bharadwaj .

The SecUnit barely rescues poor Bharadwaj from being devoured, but not without suffering major damage itself. Using the base’s repair facility, the SecUnit is soon operational again, and an investigation into why a huge predator with no mentioning in any of the provided survey data attacked them begins. The expedition soon realize that their survey package has been tampered with; entire sections of their digital map has been wiped clean of data.

And when they lose contact with another expedition on the planet, things really start to go downhill.

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“Horus Rising” by Dan Abnett

I felt it was time I took a proper dive into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Here’s my review of Horus Rising by Dan Abnett.

Wow. It’s been a while now since I wrote a book review. The last one I posted was of Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy/detective noir novel Storm Front. That was back in early 2018, and half a year after I’d finished the book. For my Horus Rising review, however, I decided to start writing before I’d reached the final page.

You might not be familiar with the Warhammer 40,000 universe. But if you’re even remotely interested in role playing games, science fiction, role playing games, or anything related to that, there’s a very good chance you’ve crossed paths with Warhammer 40K in one way or another.

Personally, I’ve only casually observed everything with fascination from a safe distance. I’ve never been much of a table-top gamer, but the Warhammer 40K universe and its lore still comes across as something that should be of interest for someone like me.

A natural place to begin was Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. It’s the first book in the Horus Heresy series, which counts no less than 49 books.

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1 the Road

Back in 2016, an AI wrote a movie script. Fast forward to last year, when another AI took it upon itself to write a novel, 1 the Road.

The 2016 movie, Sunspring, was written by Benjamin, a long short term memory recurrent neural network. Sunspring was somewhat confusing, but if you want to watch it, it’s available in the post I wrote about the movie. Benjamin has since retired, at least his website now belongs to a non-artificial Benjamin1.

Since AIs don’t reliably create new AIs – yet – Benjamin was the brain child of a human, Ross Goodwin. Goodwin describes himself as a “creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and writer of writers,” who uses technology to create works of art. In 2018, he set out on another adventure. Goodwin hocked a camera, a GPS, and a microphone to a computer, placed everything in a car, and went on a road trip from New York to New Orleans.

Using input from the camera, GPS, microphone, and the computer’s internal clock, a neural network would then narrate the entire trip. A printer in the back seat printed a hard-copy of story as it progressed.

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