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Friday, April 29, 2022

HamletHamlet by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've probably seen this live 3 times, seen several movie versions including Mel Gibson (oddly enough, the most memorable for me, being the first,) and I've read the play going on what, 5 times now?

The play is not a question of either suicide or futility for me. I'm right there in the heart of it, fighting depression with seeming madness and a fistful of righteous anger and I'm even expressing the utmost futility of language, itself, with the master of the English language, when I scream to the heavens, "Words! Words! Words!"

I freak out with the martial aspect, I cry with the conflict of love and futility and rage, and I laugh at the horribly nasty trick with the traveling troupe.

I admit this is one of my absolute favorite plays.

So here's the weird bit. My 9-year-old wanted to read Shakespeare instead of a more age-appropriate book, and I looked at her like she was MAD. I told her that everyone dies a horrible death. She says, COOL. I say it's all about REVENGE and Suicide/Murder and she says, COOL.

And then I remembered when I was nine and I had to give the hell up. OF COURSE I DID.

And we read it together, or rather, I performed with voices and she did the easy parts and we watched one of the movies to help us along and in general I think we had a great time. I think nothing says bonding better than revenge. At the very least, she got to see her daddy make an utter fool of himself.

Oohh! A palpable hit!

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Eyes of the Void (The Final Architecture, #2)Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big scope space opera written by one of my favorite modern authors -- and he is doing a fantastic job yet again.

The first book laid out a great number of weird and fascinating alien species with humans just being one of many, combined with gigantic Architects that go about plopping into real space to completely transform planets into weird sculptures, much to the mind-blowing terror of the millions of people or intelligent species living there.

We followed the crew of the salvage ship Vulture God and barely scraped by one such horrifying encounter with a reveal that the big bad is not, indeed, the Architects, but something else that drove them.

And then there are the Originators, another huge mystery that wraps up all the intelligent species in yet another conundrum.

Of course, that hardly describes the USUAL and NORMAL problems of opportunistic species taking advantage of the chaos to start interstellar wars and the like, but here we are.

And nothing quite beats the terrified scrambling of so many intelligent species with all the collateral damage that implies. It makes for a truly excellent space opera. I look forward to following all these, my favorite characters from the Vulture God and their quest to survive. :)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Sh*tload of Crazy Powers (Frost Files #4)A Sh*tload of Crazy Powers by Jackson Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great return to the Teagan's snark and a wonderfully wild ride in the China Shop.

Honestly, so much happens in these books, it's not worth it to simply say that she has TK and works in a heavily black-ops organization or that as she continues to level up her mind-moving powers, it sometimes feels like ten steps backward.

Indeed, now that we're 4 books in, I'm frankly amazed at how much has happened. It has a slightly faster feel to it than normal UFs and the plot is so snappy and varied that I feel like I'm living one hell of an interesting life.

Full of abject failures, questionable decisions, long-suffering friends, and crazily unreliable powers.

Though, after the main backslide in this story, I was VERY happy to see the crazy, followed by more crazy, and then when I think it's all reached its zenith, we get a shitload of even more crazy powers. :)

The final climax was fantastic. :) Better than book 3 and that damn flood.
This was well worth the wait. I can't WAIT for the next.

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Monday, April 25, 2022

A Visit from the Goon SquadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pause. 1.07 seconds.

It's the pauses that make up our lives, even if we're rocking hard.
The kid knows. All the rockers know. It's the breath that propels us onward. :)

So, yeah, I read this book and I kept thinking to myself that I've read better musician-central books that keep on circling back through a life, (or two, in this case,) to really give us an in-depth feel for all the little things. I kept thinking that, but each scene kept building up a more complete picture and I began to fall in love with these people and after a certain point, especially during the pauses, I started feeling something more.

I started rocking.

I mean, it's not like either of their lives were anything close to perfection and most of the time it was just life, good and bad, but the shape of it altogether, including those pauses, twisted up my insides and spilled me into the narrative.

I still don't know if this is my favorite book on musicians, or at least those involved with them, with the lifestyle, but I do know that I came out of reading this with a spring in my step and an abundance of energy. The book definitely gave something TO us.

So, yeah, I dug it. :)

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Truth of the Divine (Noumena, #2)Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's an SF book that I didn't expect to go the direction it did. And then it really committed to it.

I'm actually rather impressed.

So it's still taking place about 15 years ago in an alternate where Bush Jr was ousted and Cheney took over, aliens are walking amongst us, and whereas the previous book really pushed the linguistics and the rather nasty terror aspects of being played by both sides (human and alien) in a strange all or nothing game of rights, this sequel focuses almost entirely on mental illness.

I loved it. I mean, yes, there was politics and the proposals of limited rights for the aliens, some of which ask for asylum, but it's the mental health of our young MC and the somewhat broken alien that has linked itself emotionally to her that takes over most of the page-space.

As the author says in the beginning, this book might trigger anyone who suffers from PSTD, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and even anorexia. I think it's worth noting that it's done very well, gives us all the right amount of anxiety and the horrors of power-differentials in relationships, and let's not forget the despair.

The fact that it mostly happens to our human MC doesn't overshadow the fact that the alien has it, too, and I think the whole thing worked very well. I was invested throughout the novel and the plot was solid with increasing stakes, but in the end, I thought it was mostly all about character development.

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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9)Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

No doubt about it, these Rivers of London books are something special.

Low-key nerdy, competently police procedural, and very magical, it's the modern-day London and deep worldbuilding (and by deep I mean, chock full of tiny details that add up to something great) that makes this a must-read every time a new one comes out.

This one was no different and this particular plot got me all revved up. Angels? Different agencies? A mystery bordered on the fantastic? Yep, it was all there and I was all for it.

No spoilers, but I loved seeing a recurring character and getting more details about all the other magical traditions. Our main plot and main characters were great, of course, but all together, I was thrilled.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

A Catalogue of Catastrophe (The Chronicles of St. Mary's, #13)A Catalogue of Catastrophe by Jodi Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thirteen books in and tons of short stories later, a spin-off for the time police books, and I'm honestly amazed that I'm not even slightly tired of anything.

It's just plain fun. Those damn historians, now bounty-hunters, time-war veterans, slapstick goofballs, and mysterious security personnel... it's just endless fun. Great characters, so much snark, and now we have a lot of variety in plot and action and I just can't get enough.

Some series just have it. This one does.

If you know, you know, and it's still as strong as ever. :)

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Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Last Legends of Earth (Radix, #4)The Last Legends of Earth by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So here's the long and short of this book: I couldn't get into it.

I hate that I couldn't get into it, too, because the damn thing was rife with great ideas, with a sprawling galactic battle for the soul of the human race, including enormous stakes, new-agey, straight starship/alien technology/truly WEIRD technology, capped with original concepts and events.

It even has cameos from the other Radix books.

So what's my problem?

I just couldn't get into any single character except obliquely, through the worldbuilding, and it just wasn't enough to hold onto.

Attanasio is good on the originality front. Indeed, he's overflowing and I LOVE that. This book just isn't good enough to hold me on anything else, and even though I was pretty solid on books one and three in Radix, this one feels like it should have had some really gritty threads of characters to do it justice instead of the massive jumps we did get.

This isn't a Stephen Baxter Xeelee take, no matter how it slightly resembles it from my description.

It may be a case of "it's me, not you", too.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Devil's DictionaryThe Devil's Dictionary by Steven Kotler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit I feel quite connected with this book, as with the previous one, because it's rife with all the cool SF nostalgia things that I loved while growing up. Dune references, or specifically the massive empathy drug named Sietch Tabr that got released into the wild, messing up humanity in the previous book, is just one of many cool little references.

Devil's Dictionary, not only the Ambrose Bierce kind, but a nifty embedded story in this novel, in its own right, became a different kind of awesome for me.

Psychology, genetic engineering, hacking, and mystery. All of it is in here in a rather different kind of worldbuilding setup than I usually see in any modern SF. It's similar enough to entice the mainstream but honestly, I love how off the beaten path it gets, or how wild the really wild stuff is.

In this case, it's the habitat. :)

I really enjoyed this and I'll be totally into reading more like this.

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Monday, April 18, 2022

LoreLore by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have several knee-jerk reactions on reading this book and a single solid afterglow.

Meaning: I expected and got a rather middle-of-the-road YA supernatural (or in this case, Greek Mythological) hunger games vibe that repeats this senseless every-seven-years roll-my-eyes ultraviolence that changes immortals to mortals for a bit to allow for a little transfer of power. Yeah. Well. It made me ask quite a few questions like why have huge families at all to breed yourself into this danger in the first place, too, but then we wouldn't have this conflict or the accidental loss of life in big cities every seven years or so. *rolls eyes*

Okay, and this is a slow-to-burn get-to-the-point plot progression that should be quite familiar to other modern YA Female Fantasy Leads.

Getting beyond this, however, and getting to Castor (I like him) and Lore's relationship, was the book's saving grace. From there on, I had a pretty good time with the whole contest feel, revenge feel, and the reluctant-hero-finally-steps-up feel didn't feel too tired. The big surprises were fun rather than meh.

By the end, I was fairly well amused and not tired out -- even if the trope is rather tiring. I call this a qualified win.

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Time Is the Simplest ThingTime Is the Simplest Thing by Clifford D. Simak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Classic '61 SF that's part mystery, part regular adventure, but both are done right.

No spoilers, but Simak does the old style well and unproblematically. Death and dying, alien transmissions, a little human heaven reserve called Fishhook. It's all amusing and the intrigue is tight.

It may not be everyone's thing and it certainly feels like it's 60 years old, but that's not precisely a BAD THING. :) Some things are more innocent.

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Saturday, April 16, 2022

E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core! (The Guardians, #2)E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core! by William Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this for the first time with my girl.

We both fell in love with this perhaps a bit more than the first book with Nicholas St. North.


Well, for me it was the SF elements that bring the Easter Bunny into the tale against the Nightmare King. For my daughter, it was the special powers of the eggs and especially the chocolate. (And the chocolate's power) HULK BUNNY!

Either way, we both had a great time and there's no denying it. These books to top quality.

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Howls from the Dark AgesHowls from the Dark Ages by P.L. McMillan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nearly perfect collection of Middle Ages supernatural horror.

The anthology, when it doesn't fully satisfy or drive me into a story or two, still fully invests me in the horror, itself.

For the rest, I simply loved the overwhelming religious dread, the atmosphere of hell-on-earth, the truly sordid *everything* and the insistence that hell HAD to be ever-worse because reality really was competing neck-to-neck with these people's imaginations.

Yes. The Black Plague, the endless wars, the famine and superstition, and the deadly dance WERE almost as bad as their conception of Hell. Or maybe it WAS worse.

So, for us, reading this particular brand of horror, it's really a competition, a race to the bottom. :)

I recommend this.

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Friday, April 15, 2022

Arc of the Dream (Radix, #3)Arc of the Dream by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of those books. It not only has a slow start to it but there's a rocky shoal that crashes our boat and leaves us bereft of anything to anchor ourselves until much later.

I'm not saying this is a bad book. Indeed, later on, once we get to know our four main characters and a multidimensional alien that needs their help to save the earth, it fairly rocks.

BUT first, we need to get through the mind-trippy extradimensional dense worldbuilding that makes me both very happy and bewildered because it requires some close attention to get through it without the initial investment/payoff that we normally achieve long before such a thing crosses our eyes -- if it ever crosses our eyes. Most books don't go off the deep end with fantastical hard-SF quantum physics extrapolations and theories about life forms or how they slip into our universe or get snagged on matter, hurting them so badly that they reach out -- quasi-unsuccessfully -- to humans all over the world for help.

From there, however, it's a pretty neat Theodore Sturgeon-esq More Than Human adventure/romp that gifts all four humans with cool powers. Massive foresight, massive physical abilities, or massive telepathy make this character-driven novel pretty rocking... LATER ON.

I guess I'd say this is a cool-idea novel that suffers from a few writing snags but it is still worth the effort, regardless.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

In Endless Twilight (Forever Hero, #3)In Endless Twilight by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first part is a continuation of his quest to undermine and play a long game to end the Empire by taking away its means to coerce anyone. That was pretty awesome. But it IS a long game and he kinda loses himself, retiring in effect on Old Earth, where ecological damage slowly repairs, thanks to his long efforts.

All of that was pretty cool.

The later bits are where it becomes both a bit creepy and really neat when seen another way.

And that's where I'm of two minds on this last book in the trilogy.

If I judge it by modern sensibilities it is fine up to a few certain scenes when Gershwin is overwhelmed with the weight of all his many, many centuries of memories and he goes kinda nuts. Even that is ok... except for the rapey bits where he imagines that he's reunited with his early, early love. Then it's tragic. And even though it apparently didn't happen more than that once over millennia, he did get a lot of women wanting him naturally, easily, because he IS, after all, a prime specimen. Much smarter than the norm, effectively immortal, and stronger, faster. And he can pass that on.

Much later, many, many people share his characteristics. Mythology surrounds him, the immortal, and the remnants of the old empire are just a memory. I admit I LOVE this kind of thing. So, we win some, we lose some. Overall I think I liked this novel better than the other two because it went out on a strange limb and did something different.

I deduct a star mainly for the rapey bits. No, it's not fair even if the women attack him first, either by stunning him or trying to outright kill him. Maybe I'm weird to think that it's fairer to just kill your attackers. *shrug*

So this is just one of those things, I guess. It doesn't destroy the novel but it sure makes me uncomfortable in a bad way.

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The Silent Warrior (Forever Hero, #2)The Silent Warrior by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Compared to the more military tone of the previous book, this one has all the feel of political intrigue, assassin-type SF without going all out with either. In other words, it's mild and builds slowly.

We continue the career-life of Gershwin, the man who doesn't seem to age, after the debacle that ended his career in the military. It seems to be mostly concerned with playing a long game that would forever keep the Empire at bay.

Overall, the novel is decent, not flashy, and will never be on my top list of anything, but I wasn't disappointed. It's mild entertainment for the SF-intrigue crowd.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

In Other Worlds (Radix, #2)In Other Worlds by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All right! This was definitely a blast. Carl was definitely a lot more likable than the last MC and it was funny, getting the whole spontaneous-combustion/fish-out-of-water treatment.

I think what I liked most about this was the full SF explanation treatment right after the burn-up, letting us revel in the really wild end of the universe stuck in a bubble of reconstructed space in the heart of a Big-Crunch super black hole with reconstructed energy spores of people from the deep past of memory. :)

As I was reading, I was very "Oh, NEAT" on this. Hard SF right off, after character intro, and then some wild ass worldbuilding with cool alien godlike intelligences, and then WHAM back home for the fun of it but it's not HIS Earth at all.

And through all this, I thought it was a great adventure romp. Very old-school AND hardcore SF at the same time. A very pleasant surprise. :)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Dawn for a Distant Earth (Forever Hero, #1)Dawn for a Distant Earth by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can see the seeds of what would later dominate L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s later fantasy fiction in this early SF novel. Competence is always key, starting out from humble beginnings, strong female love interest, and military endeavors that dominate most of the text.

Yes, this is MilSF with big spaceships and chain of command and the inevitable clash that makes our hero strike off and do what he thinks is the right thing.

And to be fair, I think it is. Helping to clean up an ecological disaster or at least give the victims a chance to survive is a pretty decent thing to do.

Other than that, it's just a solid tale if not particularly groundbreaking. It is, as I've noted with a ton of his other works, rather gentle on the reader's psyche. That IS a benefit that most people generally discount and I think they shouldn't.

Real talk, tho: I like his fantasy more. This isn't bad but it's far from being Recluse.

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Monday, April 11, 2022

Radix (Radix, #1)Radix by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm tempted to just rate this one based on how I'm impressed I am with the author's intentions, but my mind isn't entirely wired that way. The ATTEMPT is pretty amazing, however, and let me rave about that for a moment before I break down my breakdown.

First of all, it's a great progression novel, like a spiritualist hard-SF that feels like a Buddha journey with tons of new-age goodies following a kind of level-up sequence that has skills building on skills, consciousness-expanding bits leading to godlike AIs and naked singularities.

Written like this, it sounds like something I'm totally down for, and I am, IN THEORY. It's epic, with lots and lots of progressions, reveals, and leveling up without it being like a role-playing game at all. It's a spiritual journey that gets tied in tight with massive astral progressions and AI nuttiness and life force stuff.

As a SF, I wish we had more of this in general, so it kinda makes me want to tear my hair out that I just didn't LIKE the main character much at all. Maybe it was his beginning. (Probably most likely yes.) Ugly through and through, and not just physically. Seeing him wise up and work through his issues is kinda the thing, yes, but it was a tricky balance and it just didn't work for me.

But what about all the goodies, you ask? Well, they're all pretty damn good. It's kinda like watching a brilliantly produced movie with the best special effects and progression but the casting was simply ATROCIOUS.

I came away from this wondering if I just wasted my time with the most expensive, gorgeous train wreck ever written. And then I started thinking to myself: Ooooh this could totally be ripped off and re-used because it was highly original and interesting even so. And then I thought to myself: maybe it already was. Zindell's Neverness was a glorious piece of fiction that did THIS one so much better and I actually LIKED the character. So. There's that.

I'll continue these particular books because while I had some issues, it was still fascinating as hell.

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Land of Drunken Pharaohs (High Table Hijinks #3)Land of Drunken Pharaohs by Christopher Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While it didn't really hit the high note that I half-expected it to, the third book in the trilogy was still a satisfying read.

I'm not quite sure I appreciated the whole reveal that Marcus was not a plain-Jane human who just happened to get tainted by magic. I liked him better the way he was. Plus, Galaxy being Galaxy, the potential was all there anyway.

Even so, the battles and adventures, even with the OP help of the mantle of the Huntsman, were pretty cool.

I'm still satisfied.

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Saturday, April 9, 2022

Old-Fashioned Huntsman (High Table Hijinks #2)Old-Fashioned Huntsman by Christopher Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very strong followup to Galaxy. Everyone’s leveling up as expected, gods eating gods for powerups, and a nice little romp through many different realms.

And, of course, a quest to be the Huntsman of the Wild Hunt… itself a very neat powerup. :)

Overall, this is all quite nicely balanced. A little love, a little romance between monsters, a little heroism for the sake of jinn, a little rage, and a whole lot of blood. Everything that a growing avatar of an elder god needs.

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Friday, April 8, 2022

Galaxy (High Table Hijinks #1)Galaxy by Christopher Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though the beginning didn't feel all that promising to me, more of a military fubar than the beginning of a LitRPG novel, I was further surprised when it had all the earmarks of an Urban Fantasy.

Moving on with his life after the mystery, he takes up in a bar only to be surrounded by supernatural of all types.

So... wait... is this a military thing, a UF thing?

Turns out, it's both of those things AND it hops right into an ancient power that used his mind to craft a leveling up system for its own powers BASED on his knowledge of RPGs.

And so, now, we've to a full UF/MilSF/LitRPG novel that just runs with all the fun stuff and focuses rather swimmingly on quirky characters in categories of onis, jinn, and fae. The military-like teambuilding is heartwarming and cool.

I had a good time and I feel no hesitation about picking up the next. It's sweet-tooth fiction that cares little for anything but fan service. I'm certainly not complaining... because I'm a fan.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Halo: First StrikeHalo: First Strike by Eric S. Nylund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Comparing this book to the last is a bit like night and day. Where night is nonstop action across the ringworld Halo (with very little in the way of character development), day is like building up many pathos heroes just to tear them down in glorious varied battles on planets, spaceships (human and alien), enough to satisfy any Duty nut.

In other words, the second book was a bit one-note and the third was a bit more like the first, with plenty of build-up and tons of varied encounters. This shouldn't be all that surprising, of course, since it was written by the same fun author that did book 1.

Quite enjoyable, really.
Near perfect if what you want are hard SF space battles and super-grunt work.

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Little GiddingLittle Gidding by T.S. Eliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Honestly gorgeous poetry, redolent of introversion during the Blitz, trying to come to terms with the good and bad shackles of history and the distinct possibility of annihilation.

This is one of my favorite T.S. Eliot poems and I just kept getting that "all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well" stuck in my head all day. I HAD to re-read this poem twice since then. I appreciate the points where the Mystery took over the lines but they were not the best parts for me.

The imagery for everything else was just too beautiful and scary.

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.


And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.


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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Beyond the Hallowed SkyBeyond the Hallowed Sky by Ken MacLeod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm very happy with this novel. It's not often that we get a near-future ramification novel that explores the discovery and realistic development of FTL, faster than light travel.

Sure, we get novels about trillionaires building FTL yachts or alien invasion impetus stuff, but not a straight cold-war FTL skullduggery and black-site FTL development. This one actually includes politics and proliferation as well as alliances designed to push certain blocs that much further ahead in Solar System colonization before most nations even realize they COULD.

Put this way, the novel is extremely realistic. If you have an advantage, exploit it in a massive way.

Of course, things get weird and hairy when we discover that others ARE out there and they want nothing to do with us.

I had a good time with this. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the latecomers will go with this. I've read a lot of SF and this feels just unusual enough to light a fire in me while feeling perfectly in line with older near-future hard SF.

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Monday, April 4, 2022

Last Tango in CyberspaceLast Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I may have an unpopular opinion about this book, considering the things I've heard about it, but DAMN this was FINE.

Bear with me a moment and I'll explain.

I identified with it in a big way.

I felt like I was reliving all my experiences as a psychologist, reliving my extensive reading experience, be it non-fiction, mind-related, philological, new-classic literature, or a little heads-up on a little concept known as EMPATHY. And then there was the whole focus and glorious boost of Dune as a piece of culture, of a modern mythology/meme, and I fell in love with the book. Indeed, since I've read Dune over fifteen times and if I'm in a tight spot I even repeat the Fear Mantra to myself in RL, I was seriously in the text.

But when it comes to the novel itself, I was most impressed with how smart it was. This cyberpunk mystery features an investigator who uses empathy to get to where he needs to be rather than muscle or straight hacking. It's something of a flip on the head for normal noir tales and cyberpunk in specific.

Let me say this straight: it's brimming with great, serious ideas about who we are, culturally, biologically, sociologically, and technologically. The core mystery was always fascinating (at least to me, since I AM a psychology freak,) and very satisfying, all the way up to and including the massive blowout we know is coming -- a blowout that will utterly f**k-up humanity good. Drugs? Yes, but not your average cyberpunk drug story. This is pretty wicked.

So why isn't this book getting more love?

Hell if I know.

It's one of the better cyberpunks, period, sending a message that hasn't been butchered to hell and seriously needs a good polish and display. Empathy, people. I'm both impressed with the choice and the execution of the idea.

I mean, it's not like there's an awful lot of it these days. I, for one, would LOVE to see a comeback.

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Sunday, April 3, 2022

Halo: The FloodHalo: The Flood by William C. Dietz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All told, this is just pure action with the Master Chief from the first Halo game. It's literally ... the game.

Of course, if you want the same cool locations, cool aliens, cool AIs, and action on a Ringworld, then this is still a COOL translation of the game.

Just come in with the right mindset and you'll be tight. I cracked open my console and got right into playing it as I listened to this book and the two were quite complimentary. A bit more story in the novel, more explanations, while the game gave us the visual and visceral. It was fun.

I'm NOT saying this is high literature, but it is definitely popcorn literature if you know that you want tons of gloopy explosions in your MilSF.

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Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Long GoodbyeThe Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading The Long Goodbye, continuing my first run-through of the Chandlers, and I have to say I'm rather amazed.

The prose in all of these is really something else. Gorgeous comes to mind, as does sharply evocative; like having a 6 1/2 screwdriver melted down to be turned into a cocktail drink at the ritziest bar in LA.

I've never read a murder mystery that gave me such a rich impression of a steamy romance, but here we are. This super short book went down SMOOTH. If you see my eyes bugging out it's only because of the fumes.

Definitely a must-read for ... anyone.

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 4/2/22:

Read this book for the first time with my daughter. I figured it is a piece of culture and I'm nothing if not a man of culture. Plus, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.

Out of almost all of the hilarious things in this book, my daughter was supremely taken by:

"You want me," said Prosser, spelling out this new thought to himself, "to come and lie over there..."
"In front of the bulldozer?"
"Instead of Mr. Dent?"
"In the mud."
"In, as you say, the mud."

We have, in point of fact, put towels on our heads and acted out the scene more than a few times. Not 42 times, however. There are only so many hours in the day.

I think it was a hit. But we must always remember... Don't Panic.

Original Review:

I'm a firm believer that every budding reader ought to read this book first so they can be utterly and completely ruined for literature for the rest of their lives.

Of course, if you're an older reader, with experience and verve when it comes to words, you might also be completely ruined for literature for the rest of your life, too, but I'm not counting you. In fact, I don't care about you.

I have a towel.

And I know how to USE IT. It's almost, but not quite entirely unlike having a clue.

Fortunately, I, myself had been totally ruined for literature early on in my life and I think I might have read this book around seven or eight times before I got the idea that nothing else I would ever read would quite stack up to it, and afterward, I just decided to become Marvin and assume that the whole world was not quite worth living.

But, again, fortunately, I remembered that I was an Earthling and I could replace most of my cognitive centers with "What?" and get along quite nicely. So that's what I did and ever since I've been reading normal books and saying "What?" quite happily.

You SEE? Happy endings DO happen. As long as you're not a pot of Petunias. Of course, that story would take WAY too long to tell.

I think I want to grab a bite to eat. Maybe I ought to meet the meat.

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Halo: The Fall of ReachHalo: The Fall of Reach by Eric S. Nylund
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I were to just compare this book with the grand majority of MilSF titles out there, I'd probably rank it as one of the best for pure grit and against-all-odds heroism, with a solid background for Master Chief and all the plausible extra SF bits like bio-enhancement, super armor, AI assists, etc. It's really quite good and the story is classic alien invasion. In comparison, it's decent with story, better than most, and it plays to its strengths.

However, I must point out that this book has a rather big history. It came out the same year as the first Halo game, the game that really defined first-person shooters back in 2001 so much that everyone and their fat dogs wanted to copy it. This is a companion novel more than anything else and as such, I think it deserves just a tad bit more love than anything that was particularly stand-alone.

Why, you ask? I mean, I probably would have asked that myself, for the simple reason that I used to pride myself on staying away form franchise novels in general, be it Star Wars or Star Trek or whatnot.

And yet, now that I've played the games and I've read this first novel, I really get the sense of them all being rather complimentary. It all builds on each other very nicely.

So this is a successful case of a product being much greater than the sum of its parts. :)

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