on December 3, 2011
Every now and then a writer gets everything right. Christopher Wright definately gets everything right in this novel, which in itself is an astonishing treat. The setting s probably as old as this genre - a couple of independents between two superpowers - featuring a merry group of honorable smugglers/pirates/traders. So, once again, it is not the setting which is important, it's the genuine storytelling and the characters whose stories are told.
This novel is funny, never boring, has a bunch of characters anybody is going to love and it's pace is very high. Thats one of the books I read in one day. Wright is able to create that unique mix of tension, anxiety and delight which produces that yearning in the readers mind, the yearning for "what's up next, I can't wait, tell me, why can't I read faster?"
The one thing you'll do once you finish the book is asking for more.
And for all those people out there, who are still somewhat in love with "Firefly": this is the next best thing you're going to get.
on November 24, 2011
I remain an indifferent reader of caper novels and am not particularly enamored of ruffians or dashing ne'er-do-wells, but Wright made me care about his cast of unlikely characters. The dialogue is superb, the characterization spot-on and the plot moves with both speed and poise, just as it should in a novel of this kind. It's funny, it's entertaining, it's extremely well-done. Plus (and a big plus it is), the formatting is clean and elegant, not always a given with e-books.
If you are a fan of space adventure novels with too-clever smuggler-captains, you owe it to yourself to drop the $3.50 on Pay Me, Bug! You could read it for free online, but you can pay the author the compliment of buying it, and in my opinion, you should.
on September 30, 2012
I bought this book because I was specifically looking for space opera. Yes, there's plenty of that out there right now, but most of it seems to be militarily-oriented. And that's fine, if you want the military. But there's more to space than interstellar navies, and that "more" is trade.
Grif Vindh is, shall we say, a lower-level merchant captain plying the spaceways in his ship the "Fool's Errand." While he does engage in legitimate commerce, he's not above passing up a Really Great Deal that could bring him and his faithful crew Lots Of Money, even if the deal isn't exactly on the up-and-up.
Pay Me, Bug! is the story of how the rapidly-spreading legend of one trading voyage ends up getting Grif and his crew involved in another scheme quite against their own wishes. Along the way to completing the scheme, there are twists and turns, crew members betting against their captain, fights and an attempted mutiny, weird telepaths, family members from hell, and yes, some military interference as well.
I really got invested in these characters and hope Christopher Wright plans on penning more stories about Grif Vindh, his motley but highly skilled crew, and their continuing adventures making money in both legitimate and underhanded ways in the spaces between the Empire, the Trade Baronies and the Alliance of Free Worlds. I hope there's some way Wright can also bring back Hu Mavis, Bennet Jax, Ebur Tosk and the Viceroy as well. And, of course, he shouldn't forget to include Ktk, the 2.5 meter "bug" of the title.
On a technical note: I don't recall coming across any grammatical or spelling howlers in the text of this book. I write reports for a living and errors tend to stick out like a sore thumb and take away from the joy of reading a book. All thanks to the author for thinking of his readers!
on December 4, 2012
This is space opera at its finest, with a crew of charming miscreants, a well-paced plot, and dialog so snappy it'll make you snort milk through your nose. If you liked Bujold's Vorkosigan books, you'll like this.
on August 9, 2012
This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read since getting a Kindle, and well worth the $3.50. (You will want to re-read it, so don't settle for a free single reading.)
The story is a combination of all the swash-buckling pirate stories that you have ever heard of, but set in space. It is self-consistent, plausible, and full of non-stop action and sneakiness. It is a "romp" on steroids with a lot more plausible sci-fi than you would expect in that type of story. There are a lot of characters, but they appear and start contributing to the plot very early on. The bad guys are really bad, as are some of the good guys...
Finally, the story editing is very professionally done along with a very clear and uncluttered writing style.
If you like space opera, this is for you!
on August 30, 2014
+5 Drunken Banter, +7 Tech, +3 Psichopaths, -1 This Is Why You Never Attempt To Write An Elaborate Zero-Gravity Fight Scene
Captain Grif Vindh and the crew of the _Fool's Errand_ have just pulled off the heist of the decade. They've stolen some incredibly valuable medicine belonging to a top secret facility. Upside: they're all loaded now. Downside: they've pissed off an entire empire of religious fanatics.
For a while it looks like the crew will be a victim of its own success. Their gunner announces his plans to part ways: he has his eye on his own ship.
But the Alliance has caught wind of their epic heist against their enemies, the Radiant Throne. They need something else stolen from the Radiant Throne, a thingy that happens to be located at Ur Voys. You know, the aforementioned top-secret facility? Who better to break in than the people who already broke in once?
By appealing to Captain Vindh's patriotism--and when that fails, freezing his accounts and threatening to haul him off to jail--they recruit the crew for an encore heist. The only problem: Grif has no idea how he's going to break into Ur Voys.
This book has outstanding "production values", with delightful cover art, solid writing and editing, and no noticeable formatting issues (on my Kindle, at least). It's very well edited. I'll admit, I did notice a few subtle editing issues, but only because my brain is stuck on permanent editor mode.
But let's talk about the story itself.
Brennan has done a great job with his worldbuilding. He sets his story in a complex, dangerous political climate without overwhelming the reader with history lessons or noun salad.
His characters may be a little stereotyped. You've got the tough and embittered captain who isn't afraid to run afoul of the Law or booze his way into a coma. There's the sardonic Amazon warrior woman as first mate. You'll of course have a big, violence-prone gun nut as weapons officer. And if you're going to have a chief engineer, of course he's going to be a three meter-long space mantis with a gambling problem and an exoskeleton that doubles as a spacesuit. So there's no real innovation in the cast of characters.
But put them all together, and something surprising happens: the banter flies, the characters become interesting and likable, their backstories deepen. You can tell they've been through some close calls together, that they've bonded. A lot of the reviews draw favorable comparisons to Firefly, and it's no wonder. Watching them prod each other is hilarious and a little heartwarming.
Another strong feature of the book: there is a savviness to his handling of science and technology, which comes as both a surprise and a relief.
At one point, Grif and two other crew members need to "hack a system" to get a message back to the ship. Most books, this would lead to a technobabbly, 24-style montage of typing and glaring at the screen. "Chloe! He's encrypted his IP! You have to crack it before those packets make it to the DCHP server in Russia!" "Jack, this is the most sophisticated ciphertext virus I've ever seen. It'll take days just to parse through all these RSS feeds... oh wait, I just cracked it by being awesome!"
This is how most 'dramatic' hacking sequences come across to me, anyhow.
That stuff bothers the hell out of me. In most "hacking" scenes, the author only vaguely explains the problem, then presents its resolution with maximum dramatics and minimum specifics. The author/reader relationship becomes akin to making babytalk noises at an infant: the words aren't supposed to make sense, because the entire meaning is carried by the tone.
But Brennan handles it masterfully. The scene is tense, the stakes are high, and yet by the end I felt like I knew what the hell had happened, why it had been so tricky, and how they'd managed to pull it off.
I can't tell you how seldom this happens in fiction. But this is just one of a laundry list of problems and solutions, try-fail cycles, etc., that occur throughout _Pay Me, Bug!_, and each time the characters solve their problems in clever, plausible ways.
Also, we learn that writing a 3D, zero-G, multicombatant fight scene is really, really hard. I don't think that particular scene works in the end, but I want to give him a sixth star just for making a noble attempt.
on December 18, 2014
This was an excellent space opera - and quite possibly the best self-published title I've purchased for kindle.
The dialogue is funny and witty without quite crossing the line into excessive. The plot is fast-paced, and the tone of the book is very fun.
Wright does a great job with the crew, creating from the first page the sense that this group of people have a long (and colorful) history. It's certainly irreverent - I stopped counting the number of "noodle incidents" that appeared - but I enjoyed it quite a bit.
It's a little bit Firefly, a little bit Ocean's Eleven in space, and a lot of fun! If you're looking for something in that vein, check it out.
on December 30, 2014
Love this book. Space opera and a heist story. Great fun. I love a fun book with great characters on a wild ride!
Love this book. The characters are cute. Rounded. And personable.
The story is unexpected at times, expected at others, but suspenseful overall.
Not for serious sci-fi-ers or those wanting strictly hard sci-fi. It is a space opera, silly at times, but it fits the story.
on October 11, 2015
If you love heist stories and rogues who live at the edge of legality, this is a fun romp in the sci-fi section of that genre. If you've read a lot in that vein, you'll probably spot a few of the twists ahead of time, but there are enough thrown at you to give even an experienced reader a surprise or two. I particularly enjoyed the combat tactics deployed by the crew. Appropriately creative techniques for folks who need to keep their opponents guessing.
That said, it is a very well-trod genre. While it's well written and entertaining, it remains a good example in a crowded field. Nothing wrong with it, but if you're craving something really new, it might not feel original enough. The book would be stronger if it led to a series of misadventures, but sadly this is the only one so far!
on November 28, 2011
Imagine a smuggler Captain like Mal, half the crew be they human or not are like Jane, they need to steal something that no one knows what it is, from a place no one can get into, everyone knows you're coming, and plan B never works. I know, it boggles the mind. Very well written, fascinating characters, unpredictable in the extreme, and very very funny.