Friday, January 18, 2019

The Skinner (Spatterjay, #1)The Skinner by Neal Asher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's almost unfair just how good Asher is with his space opera. I mean, there's hardly any space in this one and I'm flabbergasted at how much awesome alien life can be crammed in a single book.

Of course, it could happen in no other place than the most f***ed up planet in the universe.

Spatterjay. The place where life just holds on. And on. And on. Nothing dies unless it gets THOROUGHLY destroyed. And that means every life form, once infected, is effectively immortal. ALL life forms. I swear, if I didn't know this was SF, I would immediately assume it's a Lovecraftian horror. And it's FANTASTIC. :)

Enter equally messed-up characters, including one that refuses to go full AI despite having been dead and carrying around his corpse for 700 years... can you imagine what happens to HIM on a world where dead doesn't exist? Add a hive mind, a girl on a quest to live, and enough Prador on personal missions to make Prador Moon seem like a happy memory.

Beautiful setup, right? Well, it gets better. I got the distinct impression I was reading a ghost story with all the chills and frights. With the obvious twist where nothing dies, of course. Add a bit of Captain Ahab gigantic monsters that can only be taken down with VERY heavy artillery, giving even AI drones a run for their money, and I just have to say.... PLEASE, LET ME NEVER TAKE A VACATION HERE.

So delightfully wicked.

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After Atlas (Planetfall, #2)After Atlas by Emma Newman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This one was one rather huge surprise for me. I mean, I liked the exploration bits and the mental disability bits in the first novel. It felt genuine and fascinating.

But this one took on a whole different feel. Cyberpunk, a heavily populated society, massive injustice, social inequality, and institutionalized slavery based on credits and indenture. I loved this aspect. I felt harrowed and despairing even as I railed against it with our main character... who has been S*** upon for 23 years, dreams of decent meals, and lives a life equivalent to a labor camp... AS a murder investigator.

Say what? Yep, specialized training, a chip in his head, wide powers to hunt down mysteries... and yet he's still pretty much a slave.

Cool, right?

The characterizations are all fantastic, claustrophobic, and I FEEL the need to solve the murder if only to get my mind off my horrible situation. Ahem. I mean, the CHARACTER's situation. :)

As a full-on murder mystery, I had a great time. As a worldbuilding novel, I was fascinated by so many of these details... especially the Circle. But as a character novel, I think I loved it the best.

Very well worth the read and my personal favorite between the two novels and one novelette I read. :)

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Inquisition (The Wolfgang Trilogy #2)Inquisition by F.D. Gross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is definitely a much longer book than the first in the trilogy, but by no means does it lack action. In fact, I think these novels would be pretty much perfect for a fully-immersive game. All hack and slash with great descriptions, scenes, and settings.

Gimmie vampires, bogarts, all kinds of ghosts, goblins, and nasties!

What Gross does well, he does very, very well.

Action, eye-candy (please use your imagination), and MORE action. From town to town, countrysides, trains, Wolfgang and his best bud continue their bloody quest.


However... what does it lack?

Hmmm, well, I admit the characters are all pretty one-dimensional. Save his son! At all costs! The few subtleties were nice when they occurred, but in general, there was not a lot of growth or different tones to the tale. It was just as true in the first novel.

The good news is that the fun, fast action DOES manage to carry the full novel and entertain me in rather the same way that Expendables or Wick entertains me. Gimmie carnage! :)



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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Speaker for the Dead (Ender's Saga, #2)Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So great to revisit one of my absolute favorite novels of all time!

Back when I first read this, Andrew Wiggin immediately jumped into my heart to become my ultimate role-model, my hero, and the idealized version of myself. Ender's Game had him go through some horrific things and really set the stage for the man he was later to become, but it is the full-grown man that really pulls on my heartstrings.

No. He wasn't truly at fault for wiping out the Formics. That can be laid at other's feet.

But he absolutely pulled the trigger. And the end of Ender's Game showed us the beginning of his redemption. Where redemption takes the form of Understanding. And then telling All the Truth, the good and the bad. Exposing it to the world for good or ill. I LOVE how this turned into a very powerful force for good.

Better yet, I love how turning it upon this special world of Lusitania transforms everyone's lives this dramatically. Or how it affects four intelligent species. Or how it paves the way for real redemption.

I'm not all that fond of Christian motif stories because they're generally all ham-fisted and overdone. Like, A LOT. But this one does NOT go that way. It's humanist. It's understanding that all of us have good and bad within us, and that accepting (and really understanding) each other is can be the most life-affirming thing that any of us can do.

The story of Speaker for the Dead is powerful on all levels of worldbuilding, strange aliens, mystery, love, and sheer cussed awesomeness. The threat of another Xenocide times three is shocking enough on its own, but when combined with all the events from Ender's Game, Speaker basically turns me into a quivering ball of emotional jelly. And worse, the characters, and I mean ALL the characters, from Pequenios to Navi's family to Andrew himself, just draws such a warm feeling from me that I can't even stand it.

It's more messed up than Ender's Game. More wonderful. Deeper, adult, complex, painful, and glorious.

I can't particularly think of ANY novel that deep down affects me more on a personal level. I'm thinking along the lines of putting this in one of my top ten best novels of all time. :)

So gorgeous. So important. :)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So nice to read it again. I suppose I can point to this book as being one of the very first to open my eyes to just how much can be accomplished in SF.

I mean, sure, I first read Chriton's Sphere right after King's Tommyknockers so I was feeling the love already, but Ender's Game set a new standard in readability, emotional impact, and sheer cussed F***ed-up-ness.

Since then, I've read over twenty novels that shared echoes of this novel. And yet, I keep coming back to this and its companion, Speaker for the Dead, glorying in the wonder of all these little pieces coming together in plots both interesting, tragic, and wonderful.

This is one of those rare cases where popularity is not unfounded. A great tale meets great acclaim.

I can rank this up near Dune as one of my most beloved novels of all time. No question about it.

Do I pity Ender? Hell, yes. But more than that:

I admire him.

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MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, lordy! Big caveat coming. I'm already a devoted fanboy of Seanan and I read almost everything she ever comes out with no matter what because I trust her implicitly.

BUT.

Nothing prepared me for this ambitious, thoughtful, mind-blowing modern fantasy of Alchemy and Twins. She spread her wings for this one and turned tons of dichotomies into hardcore story elements, synthesizing Order and Chaos, Math and Storytelling, Isolation and Community, and made a story of Balance a bit more ambitious than any I've seen in almost any novel.

That's Middlegame. The space between the beginning and the end. The moment of transformation. The moment of synthesis.

I'm SOOOO freaking happy to have read this. :) I'm going to nominate it for next year's Hugo on its own merits and NOT because I'm already a fanboy of the author.

That's the quality within. :) My decision has been purified with a universal solvent. :)

Oh, and the characters, Roger and Dodger, are freaking cool. :) Great, complicated, beautiful story. The opener isn't quite as strong as the early days of the two kids, but that's merely my own opinion. Once all the elements started mixing together into this alchemical brew, the results were amazing.



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Monday, January 14, 2019

Cugel's SagaCugel's Saga by Jack Vance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Vance is one hell of a storyteller. I may have gotten off on a slightly wrong foot with the first Tales of the Dying Earth, but once I fell into the groove in the second novel, it and the third are a pure delight.

Why?

Because it's nonstop trickery, confidence games, theft, and conscience-less knavery. :)

We follow Cugel the Clever who falls into every situation on both feet, lying the most grandiose lies and cheating his way through every fantasy location only to get found out and run out of every town. He never stops running.

He amassed and lost massive wealth in equal measure to each chapter. Quite delightful. Wicked. And cruel. :)

What Vance lacks in worldbuilding and reasons for a dying sun is more than made up for in chicanery and amusement. :)

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Calculating GodCalculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm very glad I finally got around to reading this. I think I thought I might have gotten a bit tired of the whole science vs. religion debate in modern SF, so when I read the blurb, I hesitated between wanting to read more of Robert's work or having to slog through one side or another of the Evolution vs. God kerfuffle.

But, again, I'm glad! It was nothing like a slog. :) In fact, it was rather refreshing to have rational science-type aliens visit Earth and insist that God exists to all the atheists here. Funny? Yep. And the whole novel ends making the best case I've heard for keeping an open mind.

You know... kinda like using the scientific method.

Of course, this novel couldn't have worked unless the aliens brought themselves and other aliens over and gave us certain proofs that genetics kinda works the same everywhere and that only life forms of a certain size are able to manipulate fire and there's a lot of archeology going on about aliens that have since passed on, lending yet more weight of proof to the whole idea that God exists.

I can't really put that aside. The novel couldn't have worked out like this without including these rational aliens.

But within the framework that Mr. Sawyer set up, I'm VERY happy with the results of the story. It's probably my favorite out of all his works. An easy read, lovingly rational, mixing tragedy with one of the basic desires we all have: questions. Curiosity. Speculation. A desire to know Truth.

In that respect, I think this is one of those great works. Keep an open mind. It might be that everyone is a bit right. :)

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

DiasporaDiaspora by Greg Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am very safe in saying that this is one hell of an ambitious, dense, and thoroughly grounded novel of mind-blowing physics housed in one of the most hardcore hard-SF frames I've ever seen.

That's including Cixin Liu's recent trilogy.

I've read a lot of physics books for the sheer pleasure of it and I have a pretty good imagination, but when I was reading this particular novel, I was hard-pressed to keep up with the wall of information, exposition, and detailed descriptions of particle and quantum physics, theoretical frameworks, then more theoretical frameworks branching off the first, and then yet more in case we might have been getting used to the previously heavy load. :)

Am I complaining? No. Hell no. In fact, I'm frankly amazed and thrilled. The underlying story feels like a MORE coherent and theoretical run on Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, delving much deeper into the possibilities brought up by Contact, and it goes just about as far as you can go in transhumanism, ranging widely between regular humans, purely software/robot humans, and virtual polities within wide-umbrella AIs housing vast numbers of uploaded personalities.

The center of the galaxy went boom. It's the end of all life. Run. Run! Run!!!!! :) Vast number of years and high tech isn't enough to escape this.

What we have here is a full and vast adventure of exploration, discovery, and a mind-blowing physics reveal that not only lets the reader fall sideways through the universe and multiple dimensions, but it does it in an excellently ACCURATE direction (at least as far as we understand current physics).

The added realism is bolstered by a very excellent bibliography at the end and I can attest to the quality of at least three-quarters of them. :)

While this novel is NOT all that accessible to casual readers of SF, it IS extremely rewarding to those who are willing to sit through long theoretical (and not so theoretical) modern mind-blowing physics lessons. Is all the science necessary?

Hell yes, at least the way the plot requires them. :) This novel will not hand-hold anyone. And for that, my hat goes off. Much, much respect. :)

Oh, the novel makes me feel stupid, too. :) But that's okay. I've already sealed away a copy of it in a time capsule that will open in a thousand years for the enjoyment of our machine children with brains made of neutrinos who will have all the underpinning physics written into their bones.

:)


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Chasing ColdChasing Cold by Stephen Graham King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Two things:

I was entertained just fine by the actual SFnal elements and the adventure in the distant world, the inclusion of the aliens, and the adventure. Decent, not mind-blowing. The writing is perfectly fine, too.

But while I know there's a big market for sex, sex, sex, sex, sex in the smut-novel world, I've never been a huge fan. Most of the time it just feels out of place and/or a placeholder for SOMETHING ELSE to happen. Maybe it's a personal thing. I don't care for it when it's endless M/F F/F or M/M. If it's used like spice or the novel is fundamentally about a relationship, then fine... but this is mostly light and impersonal sex for just sex.

Again, there's a market for that... it's just not me. Alas.

But for all you M/M romance junkies in space, check this out! :) You won't be disappointed.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Heaven's Net is Wide (Tales of the Otori, #0)Heaven's Net is Wide by Lian Hearn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I probably liked this book better than all the previous publications. (Published last, it is still a full prequel of the events that follow the next generation.)

This has tragic aspects because we just can't get away from it while we spend our time in a Shogunate-ish Japan full of thugs, nastiness, and inequality.

But fortunately, the main characters make up for that. The underlying love story inherent here later becomes the backdrop of so many shocking and sad reveals in the later books so I'm on the fence about recommending this book #0 before #1-4.

The effect of reading #1-4 and then jumping back to this prequel is quite nice. As in, damn, that was a ton of tragedy and this new (but old) history isn't QUITE as dark and at least we get to point at all the previously hidden events in the other novels and go... "Wow, isn't wonderful?" or "This adds so much more dimension."

I can't say for anyone else on this point. But for me, it made this novel my favorite of all five. :) Maybe it's because I've been invested and the payoff is just right and maybe the author's skills are even better in this later book. Who knows?

All I know is that I loved it. :)

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The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading with my little girl. :)

The formation of Narnia, of certain rings, and a lion's song. :) And, of course, apples.

In certain ways, I liked the more than the first time and less as well. The first half was an awful old slog that had me as bored as my daughter while we were in dreary old England.

But once we got to the fight in the streets and the chaos that drove the group to empty Narnia, I think we were both pretty excited. From then on, too.

Quite nice to experience the backstory this way. Much better now as an adult, too. That light post sure means a lot more. :)

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Harsh Cry of the Heron (Tales of the Otori, #4)The Harsh Cry of the Heron by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourth book of this Shogunate-ish historical fantasy takes place a good fifteen years after the third book... just long enough for a certain missing son to come back as per the previous prophesy to kill his father.

Oh, boy. Just in case we weren't sure this wasn't a nasty tragedy, we now have ample proof.

This novel brings a ton of new characters and a few of the old into the fold. A solid corner of the empire, a popular rule, and the necessity to go see the emperor. The politics and the brutal necessities were very painful to me and I think I have decided to hate most of these people based only on their treatment of shooting dogs - for sport - as a replacement for war... which eventually comes anyway.

I really did like our MC's gifted twins for quite some time. Until, *spoiler, spoiler*, I want to murder one in particular.

And then there's worse to come. The transformation of intelligence and heart into honorless brutality, misunderstanding, and boundless hate.

Welcome to the Tales of the Otori.

Fortunately, the writing is beautiful and the imagery wonderful. Just be prepared for bloodthirsty Japanese soap-opera.


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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Brilliance of the Moon (Tales of the Otori, #3)Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in this cycle of the Otori picks up where the second ended seamlessly, continuing the ongoing romance... and subsequent tragedies (yes, plural) that befall them.

Mostly Kaede, I think. She and all women have it the hardest in these books.

But that's kinda the point. Feudal Shogunate-ish as this is, with a sprinkling of fantasy clan magic makes it feel more like ninja action than anything else. But unlike Naruto, this doesn't have that many happy moments to balance out the dark and sad.

Let's hear it for realism!

This is a tragedy. We know it is a romantic tragedy. So why is it so hard to keep going with this?

Perhaps because I've gotten to love these characters.

I kinda loved to see a lot of these other people die. Bunch of thugs. The politics is only barely better than the outright bloodshed. Are all men this evil? Or is it just how I feel after reading this book?

Anyway. A delightful read, if difficult and disturbing. The author does have a way with words.

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Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori, #2)Grass for His Pillow by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After the emotional events of the first book, the two lovers in this Japanese Shogunate-ish fantasy are split up. He's on the road and she must defend her new position as the head of her household. Winter is coming, indeed, in this tragic -- and beautiful -- setting.

Tone and setting are where this book shines, but the main characters have really grown into their own even if their situations are rather horrible. Or you know their situations are only going to get REALLY bad soon, anyway. :)

These ARE tragedies. Tearjerker tragedies.

And damn... I hate to say this, but all these old-time Japanese are just THUGS. Murderous brigands pretending to be honorable. Just... wow.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, #1)Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a light Feudal Japanese fantasy that focuses heavily on growing up to be an assassin, trembling with desire and love, and reveals that drive the main character to dire measures.

Does most of this sound familiar in YA fiction? It should. :)

Fortunately, I enjoy light Feudal Japanese fantasies... NARUTO!!! and while this is fairly light on the magic, (sorry, Naruto fans,) the writing is comfortable and predictable and I can firmly put this in the comfort-food category of literature.

Special things of note... lots of assassination training and experience! A love story for the ages! Loveable mentors falling to force big decisions on main characters!

Sigh... at least I like this kind of thing. :)

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Falling ObjectsFalling Objects by Jean Carrier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a pleasant surprise!

This is a fun modern fantasy that feels just like an old war movie. Part Catch-22, part Hogan's Heroes (this last will be obvious on the reading), it's pretty much non-stop action, magic.

Wanna jump from a fantasy airplane? :) How about be disgruntled with the war with all the other grunts?

This is a really fun mashup and I see a lot of potential in the ongoing series. :)

Super easy popcorn read. :) Very enjoyable. :)

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Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and DiscordSirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord by Olaf Stapledon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So much love!

Olaf Stapledon was a lot of things. Philosopher in real life, novelist in his spare time. But what really made him stand out was the fact that he could write short novels that encompass VAST stretches of time, events, and concepts. One had him envisioning a fate of mankind both good and bad across many thousands of years, or following a future history of mankind until all versions of us died off over a million years, or even encompassing the entire breadth of time and space until we're masters of the universe... and beyond.

And then we have THIS beautiful little novel that seems as far from any of these as anything I might imagine from him!

This came out in 1944. But think Lassie (ten years after this) meets Flowers for Algernon (15 years after this). Add a serious tone about fitting in when in 30's and 40's England when you're not the right skin shade or sex, throw in a very disturbing commentary on religion "for the right kind", and make two unforgettable characters in love with each other. And do it without making it creepy.

And what you have is Sirius. One of the very best tales of its kind. You can substitute the dog with a man's intelligence with any member of society who just Can Not fit in and this would be on par with any classic of traditional literature.

Honestly, the more I read of Olaf Stapledon, the more timeless his writing becomes. This ought to be a true classic on everyone's shelves if you like SF at all.

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The Evolutionary VoidThe Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing! Out of all of Peter F. Hamilton's works, this trilogy has got to be the absolute best! This particular novel pulls off a miracle.

Better than walking on water, better than a galaxy-eating Void, and better than all the sums of its parts. :) Be it Syvian alien-elves, post-human social structures, or a manufactured universe where psi powers are not only feasible, but where magic, time-manipulation, and god-like powers are just a part of a greater tale.

This is space opera on a scale I rarely see but what I always crave. And this particular trilogy slams it home with SO MUCH BETTER CRAFT than I usually see in this particular author. :) All the characters and the plot threads serve a fantastic purpose without the usual meandering I'm used to. He put SKILLZ into this one. :) Shorter? Yes, but all to the improvement of the story.

And what a story! A star-eating dream as Heaven with its own apostles versus several thousand years of super-technologically advanced humanity and aliens armed with deployable Dyson Spheres.

Holy shit, right? The ideas are freaking amazing and the execution is not only a pure delight, but all the characters are freaking memorable as hell. Talk about simple beginnings... where everyone winds up is mind-blowing. :)

This is some CLASSIC modern SF. Don't be afraid of the page count. It's worth ALL THE EFFORT in the world. :)

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Monday, January 7, 2019

The Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Re-read with a buddy!

Back in the day... like when I was a kid, I read this and enjoyed the whole concept of a novel written from the PoV of a dog, but oddly, I read Cujo before this.

The results?

A skewed perspective. :) I love dogs and love the whole idea that London UNDERSTOOD them... but since then? I have the sneaking suspicion we're not even talking about dogs so much as the desire to run away from Victorian civilization.

Why was this so popular back in the day? Because everyone was sick of being so progressive. It's better to be an animal rather than a subject of Her Majesty.

How Rebellious! How delicious!

No, no, we don't understand that concept today. *applies just a little more colored gel to his mowhawk*



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In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Wayward children are all pretty damn awesome.

It's not hard to love a land built on your heart's wishes, a heavy dichotomy between fantasy and reality, and the rules that go along with it.

Lundry, in this one, feels damn important to me. It's almost like I was her. :) Bookish, reliant on rules and in love with Fair Value. She never wanted to game anyone. She only wanted to get by and remain invisible within the rules... and she eventually got her wish.

So pretty, poignant, and full of heart. This is the story of Moon and Lundry. A cautionary tale. A tragedy. Some hope.

And above all, this is one of the best fairy tales out there. YA? Yes. But but this is one of the GOOD ones. :)

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Random Acts of Senseless ViolenceRandom Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Following the trend so easy to see for all of us who lived through the early 1990's, this book takes everything we experienced and amped it up to a fever pitch.

Womack takes all the increasing poverty, the general decline across the board, the massive riots, unrest and all the various drugs making it into every home (including prescription abuse), and tops it with violence on a very scary and down-to-earth scale.

It works so well here in this novel. The gentle diary of a 12-year-old girl in a money-troubled middle-class house slides step by step into chaos. It's so easy to get lost in her everyday concerns, but just like the proverbial frog in the stovepot, it's a cinch to get boiled in the end. :)

From being hounded by true asshole collectors, to moving to a rougher neighborhood, to being ostracized by her old friends, to getting involved in street gangs, this is one hell of a frightening tale. It's just normal life. Twisted inexorably to a dark fate.

And this isn't some novel about one single example. The whole world is going to shit. The riots continue much farther than what we saw. Presidents were mauled by angry mobs. Poverty is rampant everywhere.

The slide is not so quick that people don't TRY to hold it all together. But the slide happens despite everything and this made the book one hell of a horrific read. There's no way out. Anywhere.

Goodbye, normalcy. This SF is a supremely understated sociological SF that instead relies on great characters with great personalities driven into ever-increasing bad circumstances. As an idea novel, it's pretty damn brilliant, but as a dark realistic horror, it's even better.

Very worth the read. Scary.

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The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate, #3)The Descent of Monsters by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella goes the epistolary format in a big way. Very enjoyable to me! :)

This time we get a harried and *hat upon investigator who is given no support from her superiors. Big surprise, right? But she's still required to figure out what happened to the boneyard that is the focus of this novella. Experimentation, a half naga-raptor monster, and of course... TWINS are involved. :)

Maybe this series ought to be called the Twinsorate. :)

What we don't get in sheer description or straightforward plot, we make up for in atmosphere and mystery. I like it. A lot. And we even get a practical example of active-prophesy. :) I like where this is going. I'm definitely keeping an eye out for the next.

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The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)The Red Threads of Fortune by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Following the events after the first Tensorate novella, we deal with healing and grief from a different PoV. The other twin.

Point of fact, I got into this one a bit more than the previous one because more time was spent inside the skin. Internal dialogue and a very limited time-frame, as well as a more direct plotting, drove this particular novel away from the experimental and into the normal realm of modern storytelling. You might say it's more Aristotelian.

That being said, I really enjoyed not only the monster hunting bits *naga!* but the nice aside into the subconscious and what drives (or doesn't drive) the power to prophesy.

Above all, since it is told from a female PoV but with some heavy reservations about BEING female, for various reasons, it gives extra flavor... but perhaps not quite as much as the first novella. Still, well worth the read.

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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Kitty Rocks the House (Kitty Norville, #11)Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This continues to be a go-to read for those times when I just need comfort. Sure, it's about maintaining pack-leader status as the Denver Alpha werewolf, but I REALLY DON'T CARE. Protecting what's yours and revisiting old (and interesting) characters is a treat if they're very interesting.

You know, like Catholic Vampires who believe. Little details like that usually spark my interest. :)

Let's dethrone the queen, shall we? Nope. She has all the might of right on her side. Family, doing the right thing and protecting the innocent? Nothing can beat that, right?

Again. This is a comfort read and I'm quite happy to take comfort where I get it. :)

Then again, that cliffhanger is awesome. I want to see the series go in this direction. So fun!

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The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun and fast epic fantasy novella. Or is it SF? Regardless, there are great little tidbits and dense worldbuilding going on here and I had a pretty awesome time. I love detailed worldbuilding, but sometimes diving right into an assumed world only shown, rarely told, is its own joy.

Odd, no? But exposition CAN be quite comforting in a tale.

This doesn't have all that much of it, and that is fine except when it can get a bit overwhelming. The rest of the time, we have to just rely on the characters to get us by until all the pieces come together. Fortunately, they do. :)

The tragedy was the best part for me, but I did appreciate the sociological slant on being a woman and what has to be done to get or retain power in this particular setting. Both as one of the twins and the mother, in particular. But the tragedy sealed it for me.

Continuing on. :)



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The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn, #2)The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How is it even possible to review a book jammed with a future galactic civilization getting invaded by the dead of all history?

Succinctly, I suppose. ;)

... unlike the first and second books in the series, at 1000 pages for the first and just under 1,300 pages for the second and an even bigger page count for the third. Ah, well, at least the book is epic as hell. The invasion goes from one world to a vast swath of the galaxy. Just how often do we get epic space operas with living spaceships, high-tech alien races, a vast number of inhabited worlds, only to have it turn into a war of the Living versus the Dead?

With a tiny alteration, of course. These aren't the dead rising up from graves. The dead are rising up out of history and out of purgatory, taking over the bodies of the living in a vast way. Vast numbers. And now it's almost magic versus high-tech in a very unusual war.

With Al Capone. :) And anti-matter. :) Hippies and star-busters.

Very fun. I have to admit it took me a while to get into Hamilton's writing style, but once I finally got to this proper comfort level, things really took off. :)

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Friday, January 4, 2019

A Bear Called Paddington (Paddington, #1)A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So. Yeah. I read this to my kiddo on the assumption it would be nice and wholesome and, above all, CUTE.

I suppose it fits the bill. In a way. In an old generation way. In one of those generations that are sleeping the nice comfy warm dreams of the ever-cozy and drowsy lives that can accept only a tiny little smidge of fantasy in their staid, solid, middle-class English suburbia.

I had to stop the book about ten times with my daughter because either she or I fell asleep on it.

It may be very cute in its way and it may be a real hit for some people, but lordy, to my girl and me... this was BORING.


Doing my part to ruin other's nostalgia. Peace-out!

;)

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thin AirThin Air by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! To be fair, I have been looking forward to reading more Morgan since the devouring the trilogy that started with Altered Carbon. Wasn't quite sure I wanted to go the fantasy route with him, but his SF?

It's an automatic Hell Yes. I'm a big fan of Cyberpunk and Noir fiction and this has all the same great features (if less technologically advanced) as Altered Carbon. Think Noir disgraced military turned gumshoe but put him firmly on a Mars surrounded by corruption, nasty corporate tricks, and a military takeover in the wings.

In other words, the situation is ripe for a TON of bloodshed. :)

And fortunately, as we go through some pretty awesome plotting, mystery, reversals, I can safely say I had a TON of fun. It WAS a bit cliche with the dames, but let's face it... it IS Noir. And they were not cardboard cutouts at all. Sex sells. Violence, too. This book knows its market. :)

I LOVE the military upgrades. Do computers normally have this much humor? ;)

Cyberpunk rules!!! Morgan is one of my favorites and I think I need to get on the rest of his catalog. :) I'm so glad I finally got to this! What a treat!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Tricks for Free (InCryptid, #7)Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seanan is my go-to-girl for Urban Fantasy goodness. No matter what she puts her mind to, it's always a treat.

Antimony is here again, on the run, and working at a rip-off Disneyworld. It's a bit of a step up from working in a circus and with these many people running around the park either as guests or employees. It's slightly easier to get lost in the crowd, too, and that's kinda the point. Our favorite derby girl has put away her skates to become a general employee of hell.

Fortunately, she's made some pretty good friends there. Her roomies are a blast. I especially love the Gorgon. Of course, even a long employment run can go down the toilet when the death toll rises and secrets get outed. It's hard to keep secrets in this kind of world. Surveillance everywhere, rampant suspicions of employees. Liabilities rampant.

Secret cabals of magicians running nefarious magic on a Disneyworld business model.

*shudder*

The horror.

This is popcorn fiction at it's best. :)

Try not to burn the park down.


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