Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)

Double Infinity is the fourth science fiction novel in the hilarious Brent Bolster Investigations series by author Michael Campling, and it is reminiscent of writers such as Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not previously familiar with the Brent Bolster series…

My review of book one, Dial G for Gravity can be found here.

Continue reading “Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)”

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The Solaris Saga by Janet McNulty (Book Reviews)

This review comprises the four novels in Janet McNulty’s space opera series, The Solaris Saga. You can read my full review of book one ‘Solaris Seethes’ via OnlineBookClub.org here.

 

…beware of spoilers… Continue reading “The Solaris Saga by Janet McNulty (Book Reviews)”

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 3 – The Surrana Identity (ARC Review)

The Surrana Identity is the third book in the Brent Bolster series by author Michael Campling, and is dedicated to fans of Douglas Adams.

 

Book three continues the hilarious adventures of Private Detective Brent Bolster and his oddball associates: Vince Claybourne, Rawlgeeb – a green humanoid alien known as a Gloabon – and Algernon, their pet fish who lives in a diving helmet.

Those who’ve read the previous books in the series will already be familiar with Brent’s nemesis, Surrana, the sneaky Gloabon Assassin who has already made numerous attempts to kill him. In this story, Surrana has been held captive by the GIT (Gloabon Institute of Technology) and experimented upon. However, she manages to slip her confinement and escape her tormentors, fleeing from Earth and into space.

Frustrated with the situation, and despite their need for tact and diplomacy, the GIT reluctantly hire Brent to track down their former captive. Brent has reservations considering his complicated history with Surrana, but Vince soon changes his mind and convinces him to accept the job. However, what is intended to be a simple stealth mission, turns out to have a rather different agenda completely, and the gang find themselves in a tricky spot.

 

As with its predecessor, The Surrana Identity begins with a helpful glossary of characters which allows the reader to easily keep track of who-is-who, and where-is-where, which definitely eliminates confusion for those not familiar with the characters. I must admit that I’m a bit of a geek for things like glossaries and appendices and maps, so anything with additional details that makes life easier is definitely a win.

Aside from Brent, Vince, Rawlgeeb and Algy, a number of our favourite characters return for this novel, including: Dex, Zeb & Dr. Cooper. As far as the story goes, I found it incredibly funny and I chortled so often, that I had to take regular breaks just to recompose myself. The ridiculous banter between Brent and his cohorts is what makes this series so great, from fancy pencils to popular culture references and alien abductions.

We also have serious moments too though, where the Artificial Intelligences, Jason and Dee, get caught up in some existential angst and question both their orders and their chances of survival. As a person creeped out by the idea of AIs turning on humans, I definitely found this part interesting.

At 4 out of 5 stars, The Surrana Identity is my kind of humorous sci-fi story, and in my opinion they just get better with each new release. However I received a complimentary copy of the book directly from the author and my honest review is compelled to point out a few missing words and minor errors – slightly more so than I’d like to see.

 

Anyone interested in grabbing a copy of The Surrana Identity can get it from Amazon.co.uk here. I for one am eagerly awaiting book 4, keep them coming Michael.

 

See also:

Brent Bolster: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity

Brent Bolster: Book 2 – Dead Men Don’t Disco

 

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 2 – Dead Men Don’t Disco (Book Review)

Dead Men Don’t Disco is the latest offering from author Michael Campling and it follows on from the first Brent Bolster Investigations novel, Dial G for Gravity. Those not already familiar with this sci-fi comedy series can read my review of Dial G for Gravity here.

Having made an unfortunate enemy of Gloabon assassin, Surrana – see Dial G for details – Brent and his associates must now find a way to thwart Surrana’s attempts at revenge.

Meanwhile, simple government peace talks take a bad turn when a faulty translator forces Lieutenant Commander Dex to enlist Zeb, the science officer and slightly bonkers cybonic lifeform on board The Kreltonian Skull, to act as interpreter and translator instead. The result; a drunken kidnapping which sparks an interspecies war.

In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Rawlgeeb is escorted to The Gamulon but is then taken captive by Dex and Zeb on The Kreltonian Skull as hostage, in retaliation to the Gloabon Captain’s abduction of their crew. Concerned for his friend Brent undertakes a mission of rescue however, will his unusual methods of negotiation and coercion have the tact and diplomacy necessary to diffuse such a sensitive situation? Best grab that fancy coffee and hope for the best.

 

The more I read of this Douglas Adams-esque series, the more side-splittingly hilarious it becomes. Whether this is because the comedy level has increased from the previous book, or because I have become more comfortable or more at ease with the personalities of these characters, who can really say. However, my final review for 2018 is a highly recommended 5 out of 5 stars.

While I’m not necessarily always a fan of robots/androids, I love the character of science officer Zeb, he is such tremendous fun. He’s probably up there in my list of top 3 robots/androids/cyborgs from literature, along with Kryten and Marvin The Paranoid Android.

Where the Brent Bolster series outshines Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series though, is in one fairly major area, its plot. By which I mean that Dead Men Don’t Disco actually has a cohesive storyline which is easy to follow, makes complete sense and doesn’t veer off on random tangents.

One final point to note is the handy glossary of characters that was included at the beginning of the book; a very useful addition if you ask me. While I was initially suspicious of the Brent Bolster series, I’m really glad that I decided to check them out as they’ve definitely put a few smiles on my face. If you’re looking for some light-hearted comedy to help you unwind during the overly-stressful festive season, then look no further and grab a copy of Dead Men Don’t Disco from Amazon.co.uk here.

Watch out for book 3, The Surrana Identity, currently expected in early 2019.

 

See also:

Brent Bolster: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 1 – Dial G for Gravity (ARC Review)

Dial G for Gravity is a fun sci-fi comedy book by Michael Campling, and its humour is reminiscent of Douglas Adams novels – both Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently.

The story follows private investigator Brent Bolster who goes missing for 10 days and suffers amnesia, after a botched alien abduction. Accompanied by his assistant, Vince and fellow abductee, Maisie, Brent must figure out what happened, not just to himself and Maisie, but also the thousands of other people who’ve recently vanished from Earth.

Meanwhile, falsely blamed for the spat of botched abductions by the Gloabon Government, Gloabon Liaison Officer Rawlgeeb is exiled to Earth, and tasked with an undercover operation to get to the bottom of the issue. He joins up with Brent, and together this unlikely team uncovers a major alien conspiracy that is sure to make you fear the existence, and motivations of extra-terrestrials.

 

Along with the nods to Douglas’s novels, this book also reminds me of the style of comedy that can usually be found in the writings of Red Dwarf creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. In essence this is my type of humour, and therefore my style of novel.

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Cooper, a minor character who works at the Gloabon Institute of Technology, and while I appreciate that this is maybe just a coincidence, the man held similar characteristics and peculiar mannerisms to his namesake, Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory TV show. I couldn’t help but imagine Sheldon in my head while reading Dr. Cooper’s dialogue, and this added to my enjoyment of the overall story.

All in all Dial G for Gravity is a pretty good space comedy, with well thought out characters and some interesting alien races in the Gloabons, Andelians and the Kreitians. I received an ARC of this book direct from Michael Campling and as it has a few spelling errors my review rating is just 4 out of 5 stars, however I’m looking forward to reading more about both Brent Bolster and the Gloabons, as well as Zeb, the cybonic lifeform, so hopefully there will be more books to come in the Brent Bolster Investigations series.

In addition, Dial G for Gravity comes complete with a handy list of characters at the end, for folks who appreciate that sort of thing. Anyone interested in checking out this humorous sci-fi story can grab a copy from Amazon.co.uk here.

Red Dwarf: Last Human – Doug Naylor (Book Review)

David Lister, the very last member of the human race is on trial at the Forum of Justice on the Desert Moon of Aranguu 12 for breaching Gelf Law, having been found guilty of crimes against the United Republic of Engineered Life Forms and is sentenced to 18 years in the penal colony known as Cyberia, where he will live out his sentence in his very own cybernetic hell.

Meanwhile, an entirely different David Lister, currently inhabiting the ship to surface mining vessel, Starbug emerges from the Deep Sleep Unit only to discover a mathematical error during a return trip through a black hole, has landed him and his fellow crewmates in an alternate universe.

The mishap occurred while traversing the Omni-zone at the centre of the black hole, which serves as a hub, connecting all possible realities, and instead of emerging into their own timeline they have encountered a dimension in which the entire crew of Starbug has been wiped out, all except Lister, who has gone missing.

Persuaded to remain in the alternate universe in search of his doppelganger, Lister soon discovers that his other self has been wrongly imprisoned in Cyberia for crimes that he hasn’t yet committed and stages a prison break in a righteous bid to free him.

Unfortunately, Lister’s honourable attempt to fight the injustice of his counterpart’s prison sentence has disastrous ramifications, not just for himself or for the entire Red Dwarf crew, but also for the potential survival of the human race.

 

Favourite Quotes:

“I drink, I smoke, I have curry sauce for breakfast? Raw onions on my cereal? I sound like some barely human, grossed-out slime ball.” – Dave Lister. (p26)

 

Rimmer: “Step up to red alert.”

Kryten: “Are you absolutely sure, Sir? It will mean changing the bulb.”

p61

 

 

Last Human is Doug Naylor’s very first solo Red Dwarf novel, without his writing partner Rob Grant, and his inexperience is glaringly obvious. It is also agonizingly clear that Rob Grant is the comedian and the true ideas-man of the duo, providing the signature jokes that made Red Dwarf one of the very best BBC sitcoms in existence.

Last Human offers up a very difficult to comprehend plot with some impossible to read, let alone pronounce, dialogue and character names, that when coupled with the lack of amusing Red Dwarf satire, results in a dull, almost forgettable novel that only die-hard fans of the TV series could relate to.

 

I also discovered an error in the text that states that ‘Kryten is a Series 3000 Mechanoid’ on page 48, while page 77 states that he is a ‘Series 4000 Mechanoid’. An irrelevant boop I must confess, however the lack of attention to detail rather grates on my nerves.

 

Sadly, at 3 out of 5 stars, Last Human is a rather disappointing attempt at a Red Dwarf novel and only for those true fans, loyal to all things ‘Dwarf’. Those interested however, can check Last Human out over at Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Backwards by Rob Grant

Red Dwarf: Backwards – Rob Grant (Book Review)

Rob Grant is half of the original gestalt entity known as Grant Naylor, who created the TV sitcom Red Dwarf, as well as co-writing the original two novels: Red Dwarf and Better Than Life, which can be found as one volume under the guise of ‘Red Dwarf: Omnibus’.

Backwards is Rob Grant’s first solo attempt at a Red Dwarf novel and is ‘in his own words’: “a reverse whodunit space opera western dealing definitively with the concept of post-destination”.

The story follows on directly from the events at the end of ‘Better Than Life’; David Lister, the last human being in the universe, is now an old man after being forced to live out his remaining years on a planet composed entirely of garbage due to a time-dilation incident involving a black hole.

When Lister dies, his fellow crew members bury his body on a planet similar to Earth, except time is running in reverse. Soon, he comes back to life and eagerly awaits the day, thirty-six years later, when the crew of the Jupiter Mining Corporation vessel, Red Dwarf will return for him.

Unfortunately, his crewmates consist of: a hologramatic persona of Lister’s deceased bunkmate, Arnold J. Rimmer, a creature that evolved from his pet cat, a sanitation robot with an overactive guilt-chip called Kryten, and Holly, the ship’s senile computer.

If they fail to rescue the only surviving human being from his backwards reality, he will go through puberty in reverse and continue to get younger and younger and younger, eventually culminating in a future far too disturbing to contemplate.

 

Favourite Quote:

“Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.” – Ace Rimmer. (p99)

 

 

While at times the backwards aspects of Rob Grant’s first solo Red Dwarf novel are a little confusing and difficult to wrap your head around, you have to admire the unique plot and sheer guts that it must have taken to publish a book in which a good chunk of the narrative takes place in reverse.

 

With its short snappy chapters and engaging premise ‘Backwards’ is undeniably captivating, however it loses a lot of the witty humour that the Grant Naylor duo is famous for, and which made the first two novels so successful.

At 4 out of 5 stars Backwards is a good addition to the Red Dwarf Universe, and Dwarfers can grab a copy from Amazon.co.uk here.

 

See also:

Red Dwarf: Omnibus

Last Human by Doug Naylor