Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Cairo – John Birmingham
Part 2 of the ebook trilogy for Axis of Time series, follows straight on from Part 1 (Rome). Here we find ourselves still trying to piece together what is happening with the Soviets. Why there is so much focus on a scientist in Cairo for a talk.Will all be revealed in the soon to release Part 3 Paris.
Loving these brief returns to the world created in Axis of Time. Cant wait for Part 3 but i’m still not liking this whole ebook trend. I understand this author is in disputes with some Publishers so has chosen the self-publish ebook route for these books, but the concern is why are they always so short? There seems to be a real trend of publishers wanting shorter stories to fuel the ebook market. Aiming at people with short attention spans or busy schedules who don’t have lots of time to be able to read. Instead of releasing these ebooks as 3 small 100 page books, we not combine them into a proper sized book of 300 pages?
I need the big epics, i love my Tom Clancy or George R.R. Martin massive tomes. I pretty much won’t buy a book if its under 300 pages, i only grabbed these ebooks because it was the only way to continue the story that was established in the first trilogy. That being said i have my fingers crossed that they will be released in physical book one day so i can delete this damn kindle app for good.
Physical books for the win!!!!

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham

Stalin’s Hammer: Rome – John Birmingham
Continuing on from the epic Axis of Time trilogy,  John returns us to the world he established but a few years later. The year is now 1955 and the world has changed. The Allies won world war 2 (again) but with different outcomes, German cities being Nuked and finished earlier than expected.  The technology from the future has been in their hands for 13 years now and great leaps and bounds are being made.
Stalin’s Hammer is scheduled to be broken into 3  books, Rome being the first, Cairo and Paris being the other too and these books catch us up on what has been happening. Turns out Stalin not happy to hear his communist party doesn’t survive to the turn of century and sets out to fix this. Whatever that may mean….
Let me be clear i’m not an ebook person. I could ramble on about the smell, tactile sensation or how awesome a full bookshelf is but that’s beside the point. I prefer books on the shelf but since john has been screwed over by publishers he is going out on his own. As such the only (read cost effective) way to get the books is in ebook format. These are just novellas so quite short but i loved the world he created and just had to get them. Since my favourite characters from Axis of Time return such as Prince Harry, it is a fantastic (short) read.
He intends to release part 2 and 3 for free on his mailing list first so defiantly jump in there and sign up if you like freebies.

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Axis of Time Trilogy – John Birmingham

Who hasn’t wondered about theoretical what ifs. What if Hitler got into The Academy of Fine Arts as a youth, would he still of got into politics? What if JFK changed his route that day?  So when you see movies like The Final Countdown, you think its going to be awesome but it just doesn’t live up to it since they fail to destroy the Japaneses (they want to preserve the timeline).

I had previously dabbled in some alternate history works by Harry Turtledove in his “Days of Infamy” duology in which the Japanese follow up Pearl Harbour bombing with a land invasion too.  Then i heard of the Axis of Time trilogy (which is now more than 3) in which a multinational task force from the year 2021 is sent back to the battle of midway (by accident). They are stuck in the past, as soon as i read that i was yes, shit is going to get messed up and changed. So i had to get them.

It great from the get go, The multinational task force had a Japanese ship in it so when the midway fleet see that they attack and are pretty much destroyed by the future ships. From that point on history is completely changed. Its worse because some of the fleets ships are missing. Did they travel back?  If so where or who has them, because some had nukes on board.

John crafts an amazing universe here with 1940s tech trying to adapt and jump forward to 2021. We see huge leaps in tech, Generals in WW2 using Ipads but more interestingly, John does a fantastic job of bringing to the front cultural issues too. Us civilized countries take it for granted that our armed forces are made up of both men and women and people of many colours but 1940s is far different. There are some massive issues in 1940 of people taking orders from women captains and “coloured” captains. I feel john does an amazing job of capturing this racist attitude. I know back then they didn’t see it as that but in today’s world that is exactly what it is, racist. This series covers the time frame of world war 2 which to no surprise finishes earlier in this new time line.

There are numerous comic moments for example Prince Harry was serving in the fleet that got sent back, so he gets to meet his grandparents before they were married and the royal succession line goes into a panic trying to adapt. Stalin loves hosting Tarantino marathons!

While this Trilogy deals just with ww2 John has continued this universe in some ebooks but set 10 years later. This series has really cemented john as one of my top 5 authors. Doesn’t hurt that he is an Aussie too, even though he is from Queensland.

What If? – Randall Munroe

What If? – Randall Munroe

Man this is one hilarious book, it is a collection of answers to absurd and weird hypothetical questions he has been sent via his website for his comic strip. Having a degree in physics and previously working for NASA before leaving  to work on his XKCD comic strip full time leaves Randall in a unique position to answer these questions

There is an assortment of hilarious hypothetical questions such as

  • what would happen if the entire human population met at one place and then jumped all at the same time
  • From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hits the ground
  • Is it possible to build a jet pack using downward firing machine gun
  • If a ten metre wide drain opened at the bottom of the ocean how long would it take to drain all the oceans

There are many more hilarious questions many of which he adds his signature stick figure drawing too. He takes the time to detail his research into these questions and walks the reader through the process to find the answer.

Good for a laugh and an informative read, best of both worlds!




The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire Norton

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire Norton

Wow where do i begin with this book, such a fantastic and original story. Not only does the concept of this plot amaze me but incidentally i have finally found the illusive female author who doesn’t ruin her story by feeling the need to make a love story a major plot line.

Harry has a unique gift in that when he dies, he is reborn is his own body and relives his life over but the catch is he remembers EVERYTHING from his previous life. Can you imagine what you would do in this situation? Soon he meets others of his kind and starts to understand his situation. He soon joins a club of similar people who he finds can communicate backwards in time. For example when a member dies they then find the club when they are a kid and pass the message on to the oldest member who when they die finds the club in their time and passes the message likewise onto its oldest member. The same is true for passing messages forward in time.

But soon scary messages are being sent back of future club members being killed off or simply not being born at all and it is up to harry to get to the bottom of this and save the world.

Some brilliantly thought out concepts in this story, a very much well thought out plot and a main character who you really feel for. I am still now stunned by how awesome this story was.

If the mind of Claire can come up with this story, i very much look forward to seeing what else she can create

Doomsday Book – Connie Willis

Doomsday Book – Connie Willis

It says in the back of the book it took the author 5 years to write and to be honest at times it felt like it was taking me that long to read. I think the main reason for the was i felt disconnected from the story so often. It just seemed like there were so many characters being mentioned yet i didn’t know who they were it kinda lost me a bit, that coupled with their odd names. It just took me a long time to figure out who was what, i think that just really confused me , fortunately i got past that and really started to enjoy the story

The story finds itself based around an organisation that sends time traveling scientist back in time to study different time periods. We find out the 1300’s are normally off limits due to the plague etc yet a underling decides to send someone back to 1320 while his boss is away fishing.things go wrong right from the start, not long after sending the scientist back the technicians who sent her falls ill, its not long before it becomes an epidemic on the other side of things the time traveler also falls ill as soon as she arrives.

So we have the present story of a epidemic and the organization trying to figure out what happened to the scientist and then we have the scientist time traveler trying to find out how to get back to the drop (the place she came through) but soon both the present and the past discover she isn’t in 1320 but in 1348 right when the plague sweeps through Europe.

Once I got my head around the characters who suffered from no development (took her 5 years to wrote it, think that was plenty of time to develop some characters) I really enjoyed this book the concepts and plot were well thought out. Turns out this author has won numerous awards, in fact the most amount of nebulas for any science fiction writer. I believe after this ill be in google seeing what else she has written