Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Ryk E. Spoor

387 pp.

Phoenix Rising has the same bright, slightly goofy feel of an extremely *shonen anime. I may or may not mean that in a good way. The world building is mostly “dashes of Tolkien, squibs of that really awesome roleplaying game the writer was in.” This is a book of bits and pieces that don’t always come together but manages to be fairly entertaining once you embrace the goofy shonen ridiculousness.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review: Wicked Bronze Ambition by Glen Cook

485 pp.

In Wicked Bronze Ambition, Garret’s matrimonial plans are derailed by his in-laws. They need his help to uncover the “Operators” of a secret tournament that pits the children of the sorcerer families of TunFaire against each other in mortal combat. The prize is the accumulated power of the kids who were killed during the game, but no one wants to play. (Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of the game once the Operators decide you’re going to be a contestant.) Garret’s job is to keep the game from being initiated, but it might already be too late.

While I liked the book, I had a few problems with the general set up and plot, spoilery reasons to be specific. (That is to say, you are probably going to want to skip the next paragraph or so.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: The Collegium Chronicles: Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

342 pp.

In Bastion, Mags does not get much time to recover from the events of Redoubt before he has to head out again. His experience with his captors has left him with a number of confused memories, new combat skills and only the slightest inkling of whom his captors were. (They are apparently some kind of secret clan of ninjas, from a desert country very far away.)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Book Review: 1636: The Kremlin Games by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff & Paula Goodlett

408 pp.

The events of The Kremlin Games actually stretches between 1631 (the arrival of Grantville in Germany) and 1636. Our main protagonist is Bernie Zeppi, a former auto mechanic who is not quite sure what to do with himself in the strange new world that is the 17th Century. He gets hired as a technology consultant by a Russian noble who has been sent by the czar to investigate Grantville. Russia of the 17th Century is about two centuries behind the rest of Europe, and Bernie is kind of the bargain basement version of a consultant but is the best Russian rubles can buy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Reading: Survivor, by Octavia Butler Part Three

It would be interesting to know what Butler meant by Survivor being her “Star Trek novel.” (Mostly because there are many Star Trek writers whose non-Star Trek work is really good.) Does it mean simplistic themes or worldbuilding? I can see traces of both in the story, in the way that Alanna has an almost suspicious ability to adapt to other communities and the way the Kohn are able to hide due to the natural camouflage of their fur. (This is followed by Alanna realizing that she is more comfortable with the Tehkohn than she had been among the Missionaries.) There’s also the white/black morality of the Missionaries versus Alanna’s more pragmatic feral upbringing. (And how it compares with the way the Tehkohn assimilate her into their community.) This juxtaposition of similar situations does have the feeling of a Star Trek type morality tale--too simple, too neat, and maybe too obvious.

This speculation is not meant to be a judgment on whether Butler was right to disown the book. This is just an example of one of the questions I’d like to ask her, if I could.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review: Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

357 pp.

In Without a Summer, Jane and Vincent return to Jane’s family home for a visit. The visit turns sour due to an unseasonably cold spring that might translate into a financial setback for Jane’s family. In addition, Jane’s sister Melody is suffering from a combination of a lack of marital prospects and melancholia. Jane and Vincent decide to take Melody with them to London for the social season after accepting a commission from Lord Stratton. (It turns out they are Irish, which gives Jane some serious misgivings.)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Book Review: Antiagon Fire by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

460 pp.

In Antiagon Fire, Quaeryt backs up his wife Vaelora when they are sent on a diplomatic mission to Khel. They also attempt to meet with Bovarian High Holders who don’t show much interest in cooperating with the regime change. The Bovarian High Holders flee to Antiago, which refuses to repatriate them and shows clear signs of being antagonistic to Bhayar’s plans of conquest. (As you do when you’re an independent country that would like to stay that way.) This of course forces Quaeryt to head into Antiago where he runs into Antiago’s imagers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reading Homestuck Part Forty Five: Aradia > Be the dead red Aries

(I’m sorry. I’m not sorry. I could not resist putting in a reference to the fan work “Dead Red Virgo” in this title.)

From here to here.

We are switched to a vague teaser of the last unseen troll! We see a cuttlefish, which is being prodded by a trident held in the hands of another troll. We don’t see very much of this last troll, but she wears a lot of bling and a Pisces sign. She is also kind of cute.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

357 pp.

My general impression of Chimes at Midnight is, “wow, McGuire really loves to put Toby through the wringer.” Just when Toby manages to get a handle on her life, and starts to get used to the idea of having the King of the Cats as her boyfriend, something else comes up. In this case, the thing that comes up is a number of changelings dying from goblin fruit, a terrifyingly addictive fruit from Faerie that is deadly to changelings and humans. (It is not illegal because it doesn’t affect pure blooded fey as strongly or as lethally as changelings or humans. With that said, sale of goblin fruit is at least disapproved of because it might cause problems for the fey if humans started dying from it.)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Reading: Survivor, by Octavia Butler Part Two

One thing I’ve noticed about Octavia Butler’s writing is that she tended to write protagonists who end up with a self-imposed mission of saving people who might not actually want to be saved. Lilith from the Xenogenesis series is one such character, the protagonist of Parable of the Sower is another.

Alanna’s self-appointed mission is to free the Missionaries from Garkohn influence, though it might be better said that she wants to free her foster parents from Garkohn influence. It’s pretty clear that Alanna has very little attachment to the other Missionaries. Her primary focus is for her foster parents who “civilized” her and treated her with compassion.