Monthly Archives: October 2013

Required Reading: The Education and Maturation of Real Johnson

Required Readingby Jeffrey L. Millman

This is one of a growing trend in self publishing. Now, I am not knocking the self publishing route, there are some draw backs to doing this. The most notable in this case is the large number of typographical and grammatical errors I am finding. Now don’t get me wrong, I make plenty of mistakes, but when reading a book I don’t want to feel I should be proof reading – it does take some of the enjoyment out of the experience.

The publishing companies charge a lot of money for editing and proof reading so I can’t blame anyone for cutting that particular corner. But of you are going to do away with the services of the publishers, you should at least get a friend to give it a quick once over.

So, putting aside my gripes about the typography and editing of the book, how was the story?

Well, it was actually very good and well told. It follows a year in the life of Real Johnson. Leaving his family and girlfriend behind in Florida, young Real finds love/lust, freedom and a taste of responsibility during his first year at Yale.

The book portrays a very different world and is obviously written from experience. The adventures sound too real to be anything else. 

As Real comes to terms with living away from home and amongst new and very different people, he learns to juggle his sporting ambitions with his studies and his love life. Can he stay faithful to the girl he left behind? Is he good enough to make the swim team? Can he cope with the demands of his course?

All very good questions, and I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the book by telling you here.

I found the book to be entertaining, although some passages did tend to wander off the beaten track a little. Not as good as maybe some of the reviews made it out to be but good enough for me.

Would I read another Jeffrey Miller book? Not unless he manages to find an editor/proof reader…


The Ascendant Stars (Humanity’s Fire #3)

The Ascendant Starsby Michael Cobley

The mistake I made with this book was waiting so long to read it. It is the third part of Michael Cobleys ambitious “Humanities Fire” trilogy and there are so many characters following different strands of the story that it took me ages to get myself reacquainted with them all. But this was my error, not the authors.

Ascendant Stars is the climax of a galaxy spanning tale of war and intrigue, with the human race finding itself split on different sides of a conflict that threatens to tear the galaxy apart. I have read similar books before, with humanity being both hero and villain, an approach similar to that of my favourite Science Fiction TV series, Babylon 5. No race can be all good or bad, and in this series, humanity is a relatively new and small player in the ongoing conflicts between the various races that inhabit the galaxy.

But at the same time, it is humans who hold the key to how the story unfolds.

On the one hand we have the “Earthsphere”, made up of the numerous colonies for whom planet Earth is home. Then there are the humans descended from explorers who formed the crews of the first colony ships, sent out beyond the solar system to help spread humanity amongst the stars. It is the later who find themselves fighting for their very existence against some of the oldest and most powerful entities in the galaxy.

As fleets of star ships face each other, and powerful weapons tear ships and planets apart, the conflict goes beyond the physical universe, with several strands dropping into both hyperspace and cyberspace. 

Throughout the story we find that the battle is really between organic and inorganic life forms, the most deadly being the ancient enemy – the Legion of Avatars. It seems that the war that has broken out is not a new one, but a continuation of a conflict that has been raging for millennia. And even as the various antagonists prepare to go into battle, their every move is being manipulated by Artificial Intelligences far older than the human race itself.

Coupled with the presence of two seemingly all-powerful enemies – the Construct and the Godhead – you begin to see just how complex this tale can be.

It is certainly a very ambitious story and although I can think of others who have done this type of thing better, it is a very well written, fast paced tale. 

I would recommend the trilogy to any sci-fi reader but would recommend reading it on one go.