Saturday, June 23, 2018

Dead Man Rising (Dante Valentine, #2)Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Falling back into this series is as effortless as it comes.

Dante is wallowing in the loss of her old self (having gained demonic powers) and the loss of her demon lover. Not only that, she's lost a lot more and while she's now super hard to kill, she's obsessing over her difficult past, her childhood of abuse, the magical practitioners who fed on the students.

Of course, all of this comes wrapped in a fantastic high-tech bow with plasguns, gene-engineering, a full extra-modern city with necromancers, sex-magic practitioners, and... of course... cops, private investigators, and mercenaries.

Add to that the devil and Dante's unwilling association, having found love with a fallen demon and then losing him... and we've got enough pathos to charge a mag-lev train.

The past really comes home to roost in this novel and there was never a point where I wasn't thoroughly entertained. It's just one of those novels. Total flashy UF goodness with everything I like in both SF and Fantasy. :)

So good. :)


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Friday, June 22, 2018

The Wind in the WillowsThe Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-read now to make up for reading it a long time ago.

What did I think about it? The adventures of Toad, that inestimable peerage of nobility and intelligence?

Pfffttth.

Unlike the other classic I just finished, these talking animals have little to do with religion or politics other than a cameo performance from Pan. And that was just a little last minute grace. :)

So what did I think about the whole book? It's a comic buddy novel with very loud and distinctive Victorian animals having adventures, watching Toad get into trouble or eventually getting Toad out of trouble, or otherwise enjoying rashers of bacon.

Funny? As in Three Men in a Boat funny? Perhaps. But this one is absolutely a children's novel, too. And quite fun. :)

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)Watership Down by Richard Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, yeah.

Rabbits going gung-ho in England and encountering many different politics, talking about mythology, death, and courage.

Oh, yeah, and if you didn't pick up on that bit... it's FANTASY. They can't count to five but they have complex Briar-Rabbit mythologies. Oh, and there's a bit of a Cassandra precog stuff and ghosts, too.

But don't let this next bit bring you down! It's YA.

Oh, a lot of people might say it's too graphic for younglings but that's entirely a matter of opinion. It's rabbits, ya'll. Have you told your little ones about where the meat they're eating comes from? It's all part of the same idea. Kids aren't dumb. Well. Most of them aren't. Give them some credit. :)

All told, this really IS a classic. Plenty to entertain everyone. It's a subversive, political, adventuresome survival dystopia with delightful bunnies.

Marlon Bundo eat your heart out. :)

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Quarantine (Subjective Cosmology #1)Quarantine by Greg Egan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had Greg Egan on my radar for a long time but aside from a lucky chance encounter with a novella, it still took me almost two decades to finally break down and read him! It wasn't his fault. That lies entirely with me. I'm absolutely ashamed.

Why? Because this hard-SF novelist is unashamedly tackling some of the hardest quantum physics interpretations, (smearing possibilities and collapsing the wave functions of reality) to very, very courageous levels.

The writer runs with a loaded gun with a safety off. It's pretty awesome. The risk he takes from turning a cyberpunk Private Investigator novel into a completely sidelined thought experiment including the mythical Observer and the death of all the wave functions to create a single reality, multiplying it by a few observers, and then eventually to the whole Earth, is not an end ANYONE ought to miss. I cheered. I gasped. I whooped.

Am I explaining this too esoterically? Possibly. Okay, let's back up. The Earth is suddenly quarantined in a quantum bubble to protect the rest of the universe from summarily changing realities willy-nilly because we THINK it into being. It starts out as quantum tunneling on the macro scale, cheating at cards, getting hugely improbable number sequences right, but then we go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole where multiple worlds can be chosen from at will, thousands, hundreds of thousands, and each die as the "best" possible world becomes real. Now let's throw that into the stew and add more people. How about adding everyone to that powerful quantum schedule? What happens when we all get the ability to be gods?

Yeah, Egan attempts just this. :) Brilliant attempt, too!

So why didn't I give it 5 stars? Because great ideas don't always equate great fundamental stories with plot and characters. There's nothing wrong with this one, but most the plot and characters are puppets to the need to make clear what is going on, science-wise. I like good exposition when I need it to follow the intent of the author. In this case, it's absolutely necessary. And delightful. But it necessarily slows down the plot, too. Like, to a crawl.

Fortunately, it was never boring to me. Just uneven. No harm, no foul! And what we have here is a novel of quantum possibilities gone totally nuts. :) I LOVE THIS!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Shelter: Tales Of The AftermathShelter: Tales Of The Aftermath by Dave Hutchinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm of two minds on this one.

I feel like I ought to go easy on it because it is, after all, just a recreation of the Hatfields and McCoys set in rural post-apocalyptic England. It's been many years after a broken asteroid took out North America and we have a mostly illiterate farming community that is run more like a feudal system than anything else.

Enter in the characters. This is where all the fun is going to be had, assuming you have fun with them. Me? I was kinda meh with them and the underlying concept of the novel. It was competent but nothing truly stood out. I've enjoyed Hutchinson's other novels quite a bit but this one kinda left me flat.

You know it's a bad sign when you're rooting for the bloodshed and a nightmare-fueled war between these "sane" rural community folk.

Then again, maybe that was the whole point. I'll be looking out for other novels by him but this one... not so much.

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Thrawn (Star Wars: Thrawn, #1)Thrawn by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away, I was once absolutely amazed and thrilled when a certain Timothy Zahn revitalized the whole Star Wars franchise by picking up a few decades after the events in Episode Six, introducing the most charming and deadly enemy the New Republic had ever faced.

I was doubly amazed because there was no heavy reliance on BDOs, just strategical and tactical strength. Grand Admiral Thrawn came back from the outer rim and WIPED everything in his path.

My jaw dropped. I said to myself, MY LORD, I WISH WE HAD ANOTHER TRILOGY OF MOVIES BASED ON THIS. It's BRILLIANT!

Instead, we had a prequel trilogy and then two out of three after-trilogy and two side-stories.

AND NO THRAWN ANYWHERE.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

*crickets*


So, eventually, I got this bright idea. Go back to the original author of Thrawn and read all about Thrawn's rise to power. I avoided it only because I tend to avoid franchise novels, but come on! It's THRAWN!

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied. I loved getting an inside look into this brilliant guy with dual loyalties and enough wisdom for three sectors. :) So? Love to hate? Enjoy just how brilliant a villain he is because he's also complex and admirable?

Yep. All of the above. All the love of Darth Vader before we saw him as a kid and none of the mistakes. :)

Totally worth it. Easily my favorite SW novel after Timothy Zahn's original classic. :)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Soft ApocalypseSoft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I may have just found my favorite dystopian SF. Maybe not as good as, say, The Postman or The Stand, maybe, but out of all the last decade's dystopian runs, I like this because of the freaking REALISM.

What? So it's like The Road?

NOPE. Not gritty like that. The title is okay but it really should be named SLOW Apocalypse. This is how it will probably land on us. You know, putting a frog in a pot and set the temp to low. This is how the world ends. Not with a bang... but a whimper.

We're damn suckers for that kind of destruction. :) We might not like to admit it, of course, and all these dystopias like the plagues and the radiation and the zombie outbreaks... but what happens when we run out of resources and our natural cupidity and incompetence drags us down?

The usual. Death. Destruction. But what will it REALLY be like? Especially if it's SLOW?

People will adjust to the new norms. Try to have relationships. Grumble about the new depression. Perform hugely boneheaded stunts. Eventually, run out of road. And all the while, just trying to get by.

That's REALISM for you. Doing good where you can or letting it all rot, trying to find a bit of happiness in the crap and sticking with friends where you find them. No huge rape-fests. No blowout fight of good versus evil. There are still dicks with guns and politicians without a clue and nuclear warheads going off in this novel, but events are spread out as the apocalypse comes to a full boil. You wake up from your 1950's dream to see the 1980's. You wake up from your 1980s' dream to see the 2010's. Only it's worse. Much, much worse.

You still hungry? Trying to sell a few tampons for a piece of bread? How about all that murdering of illegal immigrants by the trainload?

Oh, yeah, this is rather timely. And you know what? It's very realistic. It might even be happening to us right now. How's that for scary?


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