Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

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Echelon by Josh Conviser

Del Rey, July, 2006
Trade paperback, 304 pages
ISBN: 0345485025
Ordering information:

by Josh Conviser Echelon was a data mining operation run by the NSA in the late twentieth century. But over the years, as Echelon became more powerful, it broke away from the government and created its own organization. Every single email, fax, Internet communication and phone call was tracked through Echelon. Eventually, Ehelon became the quiet ruler of the globe. Wars ended, peace became the norm. Whenever it looked like war might break out or a new invention might destabilize the markets, Echelon stepped in and smoothed things out. Whatever it took, whoever had to die, it was all for the betterment of humanity. Normal people have no idea that their every movement in and out of the flow (the futuristic version of the Internet) is monitored and recorded. Ryan Laing is a veteran agent of Echelon who handles the jobs that have to occur in the real, not virtual, world. Ryan is bioengineered for speed and accuracy and has implants which extend his normal senses. His controller is Sarah Peters, a veteran hacker who works out of Scotland. When strange things start happening inside Echelon, it's clear that Echelon has a traitor that is trying to destroy it from the inside. Ryan and Sarah are determined to uncover the traitor, and are drawn into a dark conspiracy in which nothing is quite what it seems. Josh Conviser knows dialogue and pacing and it really shows in his debut novel, which is an exciting thriller with a touch of cyberpunk. The atmosphere of paranoia and the biting social commentary add a gritty realism to the science fiction plot that's not so far-fetched at all. Echelon is the logical outcome of data mining programs that are in existence today, which makes this compelling novel all the more interesting -- and disturbing to read.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Luna, October, 2006
Hardcover, 392 pages
ISBN: 0373802498
Ordering information:

Magic Study
by Maria V. Snyder Yelena Zaltana was kidnapped as child by the evil mage Mogkan who fed off the children he held captive. Yelena escaped that fate to become the official poison taster to the ruler of Ixia (Poison Study, 2005). In Ixia anyone with magical talent is banished, but in her home country magic is celebrated and taught. Yelena is now free of Ixia and is headed back to be reunited with her family. Her reunion with her parents is sweet, but her brother's antipathy towards her causes her great pain. Yelena is accepted into the Magician's Citadel where she begins her training. But her brother has spread the rumor that she is actually a spy from Ixia. Meanwhile, a rogue magician is committing a string of murders that Yelena is desperate to solve. Political intrigue, magic and adventure combine to make this second installment in Yelena's exhilarating story .

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