Number 6
13 May 2015 @ 07:58 am
Happy Birthday locker_monster!

(I've kind of slacked off on birthday messages in general for people on my flist, so if I missed yours, my sincere apologies, and I hope you had a great one...)
 
 
 
Number 6
Darn Livejournal, cutting off the full title:

Panic Groom, or, How An International Feminist Conspiracy in an Alternate Dimension Saved Me From Being Late To Work

How's that for a title? I think my whole reason for writing this post is so I could use that title.

Anyway, I use my computer as an alarm clock... put it in sleep mode and set a timer so that at a specific time (two times, actually, I like a staged wakeup because if I sleep 100% through the night without interruptions, my body feels like no time has passed and I feel more tired), a video file plays (different one each time so that I can tell whether it's the early or late) and wakes me up until I turn it off. Now, normally, there's no problem. But occasionally, a script will be running in the background of my websurfing or something that causes the whole computer to slow to a crawl until I stop it. In this case, the first wakeup went off fine, but the second one, well, it went off an hour late.

I woke up to the second one, noted the time, and though, "Huh. Good thing that didn't happen on Friday, or I might be late for work. I think I'm going to get a bit more sleep though." So, I went to bed and started to drift off, but not quite, something was on my mind. And it was on my mind long enough that eventually, I realized, "Hey, wait a minute... it IS Friday." And so I had just enough time to get up, shower, brush teeth/comb hair, and get out the door on schedule.

What was on my mind? A dream I had before waking up, in which there was a TV show or comic in which various female comic/TV-comic characters from DC or Marvel, including (but not limited to) Agent Carter, Mystique, Lois Lane, Felicity from Arrow (sometimes it was Barbara-Gordon-Oracle) and Wonder Woman were all recast as operating a top secret group in the 40s-60s (the exact period was unclear and may have changed from moment-to-moment in the dream) that was, in addition to doing normal heroic operations of fighting bad guys (pretty much working like an SSR but with Agent Carter in charge) trying to promote social equality through means that occasionally bordered on questionable-ethics-but-ends-justify-the-means-for-the-greater-good type actions (e.g., framing a sexual harasser for financial misconduct so that they'd be fired and a more progressive person would be hired in their place... there was also something involving a guy with writing all over his face but I don't know what that was about), all of which somehow led up to an alternate now (which we would also see in flashforwards now and then) where not only was the vast majority of people openly accepting of differences, there was also improved biotechnology such that you could go through a sex change, complete enough to reproduce if you so desired, with just a few hormone treatments, or have unusual body parts like horns grafted on your head just for kicks). And in my half-asleep state (before it had the wherewithal to wonder, "Wait, how would that even work?") my mind thought that this was an awesome idea for a comic and should totally be done and I was rolling around in my head other options to expand it and how to tell the world about this awesome concept.

I don't think trying to read too much into the meaning of this dream would be too fruitful (but if you do, please note that I was entirely positive, emotionally-speaking, about the international feminist conspiracy, and not conjuring it up in a paranoid-ranting-about-black-helicopters way), but it stuck with me long enough for me to realize that it was in fact Friday and I did in fact have to go to work.
 
 
 
Number 6
10 March 2015 @ 06:31 pm
Yeah, I've fallen behind, but, in my defense, my life is pretty much just blah blah work read sleep eat over and over again, and although my crossposting my Goodreads book reviews could be done more often, it just doesn't seem like enough on its own to write about.

What's new with me? Still, not much. My birthday in about 2 weeks.

Oh, and I had my first major cooking mishap. This past Sunday, I was cooking a pork roast, and as I normally do, I was searing the sides first. Except, this time, not like usually) and largely because I was trying dredging the roast in flour first), I had oil in the pan, rather than just dropping it in fat-side-down and letting that serve as the oil-like substance. Hot oil. Can you guess where this is going? I dropped the roast in the pan, and there was splashage. Got both of my hands (the sides), and some on my chest (more of me was splattered than got burnt here, but the shirt I was wearing protected me). Yeah, it was pretty painful, but it was just a light burn, could have been a lot worse. Today, I have one big blister on a finger, and a couple tiny ones on my chest. Oddly, the parts I THOUGHT got the worst of it are fine, not even sore at all anymore (unless I'm directly pressing it).

Anyway, I consider it a victory, as not only did I finish cooking the meal, I didn't cry out or let anyone in my family know (including my brother, who ate the meal) I'd been injured. Yes, that's a strange victory condition, but I am a strange person. And I went to work today (the blister is on a part of the finger that's not directly endangered so with a little care I could still lift heavy loads). So, that's something. Hopefully this will be a lesson to me. But I've had to put off gaming a little... got the new Tomb Raider reboot free from XBox 'games with gold' but I've postponed getting into it.

TV, honestly, there's not a lot to report. A lot of things in reruns, and that which has been new is good, but not really all that memorable. Watching Walking Dead, which I enjoy, but, right now they're kind of following the comics fairly close, so it's not as exciting. Game of Thrones soon, at least.

So, let's get onto Book Foo, I have a big backlog to get through... reviews come from my Goodreads account:

Finished: The Martian, by Andy Weir

Astronaut Mark Watney is part of a team visiting Mars. He's not the first person to set foot on the red planet, but he may be the first one to die there. Only a few days into his mission, a dust storm causes his team to evacuate... and as they make the trek from their habitation module to the ascent vehicle, Mark is wounded, lost, and presumed dead. By the time he wakes up, everybody else is bound for Earth. But he's alive, unable to contact Earth, and has to stretch his limited resources until the next mission... which isn't expected for years. And there's plenty that can go wrong for one person on a hostile planet for that long.

The Martian has been receiving high praise, and is already in the process of a movie adaptation, presumably to appeal to those who liked the movie Gravity (or Matt Damon, who stars). And, after reading it myself, I can see why. Read more...Collapse )Still, these issues are, in the end, minor, for what is really a good book overall, and mostly they bothered me in reflection, because while reading it, I was having too much fun to worry.

Finished: Burning Paradise, by Robert Charles Wilson
It's 2014, but not our 2014. This is a world celebrating approximately a hundred years without war. But there's a dark secret underlying the seeming peace... the world is the way it is because Earth has been secretly guided away from conflict by an alien presence, a life form that's intelligent but not conscious, and only has its own interests at heart. Seven years ago they murdered nearly every member of a small group of scientists who had been putting the pieces together. Cassie is the daughter of two of these murdered scientists, and has lived in fear that the aliens will come back and finish the job, eliminating anyone left who knows the secret. And so, when she spots one of the alien's human "sims", she does what she's been trained to do... she takes her little brother and runs. But there are bigger things going on, and Cassie's got a big role to play in the future of the world. And there may even be a chance to defeat the aliens... but everything has a cost. Read more...Collapse ) it's probably not as memorable as some of his other major works, but I enjoyed reading it all the way through.

Finished: Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville
Warning: I do sort of spoil one of the twists... it's sort of a twist that's part of the premise, so it's hard to talk about without it. Still, I'll leave the spoilery part of the premise behind the cut, just in case.

UnLondon is a magical city that exists somewhat parallel to London, a world where magic is commonplace, where inanimate objects have lives of their own, ghosts and half-ghosts live, and the greatest threat to everyone is an intelligent cloud of smog. Read more...Collapse )It's still a kid's book, so, as an adult, I only rate it a three... I liked it. But it's a high three, and I think that if I was in the target age range, I'd give it a four or five.

Finished: Ragamuffin, by Tobias Buckell
Humans are second-class citizens in the galaxy, technically free but realistically under the control of the aliens of the Satrapcy, who control the wormhole network and also have ways of controlling minds. But Nashara is an agent from a sealed-off human world who carries a weapon.... one that might be humanity's only shot, as the Satraps may be switching from a policy of repression of humanity to one of extermination.

Ragamuffin is part of Tobias Buckell's Xenowealth universe. It's technically the second book, and they're supposedly stand-alones except that there are some recurring characters. This is the first book I've read of his, so I have the rare (for me) experience of not just guessing how someone might react to coming in on the second book, but to give my own impressions. (Short, non-spoilery version: Liked the first half, but the 'part of a series' part sort of ruined it) Read more...Collapse )There were some cool ideas here, and a few nifty set-pieces, so despite my problems with the book, I'd be willing to give the author another look somewhere down the line.

Finished: The Mount, by Carol Emshwiller

Hundreds of years ago, diminutive aliens, the Hoots, conquered Earth. Some humans are free, but most are slaves. Those treated the best are the ones chosen as mounts, constantly feeling a Hoot's weight on their shoulders, trained for races or exhibition, treated like pets and friends... but slaves nonetheless. Young Charley is one of these mounts, serving the Hoots' future leader, and when Charley's father, a leader of the human rebellion, frees him, he's not all that happy about it. Who, after all, would want to live in the woods and struggle to survive, when you can be taken care of and treated well and complimented. Read more...Collapse )It's probably not going to be one of my favorites, but I'm glad I read it and sure I'll recommend it in certain contexts to other people.

Finished: Some of the Best from Tor.com, 2014 (short fiction collection)

This is an ebook collection of what the editor thinks were some of the best stories published on Tor.com in 2014.

Any short story book is a mixed bag. But in this one, it generally felt unsuited to my tastes. Read more...Collapse )Of them, I think perhaps Liu, Dellamonica, and Emrys wrote the standouts. If the book was just these, I'd probably raise it to 4, if it was these and a few of the ones I don't like, a safe 3, but because, on balance, I felt outweighed by stories where the reading was something of a chore, so I'll leave it at 2.

Finished: The Mirrored Heavens, by David J. Williams

It's the early 22nd century, and terrorists have just destroyed the space elevator, which threatens the peace between world powers. Several operatives of various groups pursue various interests.

The Mirrored Heavens is a high-octane action cyberpunk book, full of cynicism and interesting ideas about the future of warfare and mental conditioning. It might have been a great book, if only he remembered to include anything human.Read more...Collapse )It wasn't offensive, it just never became compelling to me. All I got was a vague sense that this could have been better if I cared about anyone.

Finished: God's War, by Kameron Hurley

God's War follows Nyx, a mercenary, former royal assassin, and occasional bounty hunter, living on a war-torn planet in a society where (due to a draft on males only and the high casualty rate) women vastly outnumber men. She and her team take on a mission that, they're told, may lead to the end of the centuries-long war.

This is the debut novel by Kameron Hurley, who's been getting a fair amount of attention lately, and, judging by this, it's well-deserved.Read more...Collapse ) I have to admit, I'd seen this book in stores before, looked briefly at it, and passed over it... for reasons mentioned already, it felt like "not really my thing." But I decided I'd give it a try, in part from positive recommendations about the author and book, and in part because I'm trying to make a deliberate effort to read more diverse SF authors and characters. And in this case, I'm really glad I did.

Finished: Wool Omnibus, by Hugh Howey

Wool is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the surface of the Earth is uninhabitable. What may be all that is left in humanity lives in the Silo, and has for hundreds of years, a closed, self-sufficient community about a hundred and fifty levels deep. Whole generations have grown up never seeing the outside except on the feed from the cameras on the surface... but almost nobody would have it any other way. For there is a rule, that expressing any desire to go outside gets you assigned to go out and clean the cameras... a task that nobody survives. Read more...Collapse ) I might go on to read the other books in the series, but I'm not inspired to rush out and do so right now.

Finished: Yesterday's Kin, by Nancy Kress (novella, received for free)

I was able to read Yesterday's Kin free through NetGalley. It doesn't impact my review.

A genetic researcher has discovered something about humanity's family tree, something that interests the aliens who have just recently made contact with Earth, a discovery that causes them to reveal the truth about why they've come... and a threat that concerns both of them.

Yesterday's Kin is a novella, in that awkward stage that's too long for a short story and not nearly long enough as a novel. Although it's listed as 192 pages, it's an extremely brisk read. In fact, I think it reads more like a very long short, and yet it's sold more or less like a novel, and that's potentially a problem. Read more...Collapse )


Currently in progress or finished-but-I-haven't-written-my-reviews: Light, by M. John Harrison, Behemoth, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 3) (put it on hold a bit to read shorter fiction), Recursion, by Tony Ballantyne, The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain M. Banks, Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

And speaking of books, you might have this spoiled if you read behind the cut of the last review, but, since I've been reading more, and more new books, I've decided for the first time to buy a Worldcon membership, so I can nominate and vote for the Hugo awards. Nominations close today, so here's my list, unless I make a last minute addition or two (if anyone's interested, I can provide links to most of the shorter fiction for legal reading online, but I'm too lazy to do it right now):

Read more...Collapse )
 
 
 
Number 6
End of the year post! As some of you know, I don't really celebrate New Years, both due to being a social hermit and just not liking it. But, why not put up a post to finish off my book review posts as an easy-to-find bookend, and also update on other things.

First, other things. I probably should have posted this earlier, but I hope everyone's had a nice holiday season, regardless of any holidays you celebrate (and if you don't celebrate any, well, I hope you enjoyed the lights and colors of other people celebrating?). I had a fairly quiet Xmas, just my Dad, Grandmother, Stepmother, and Brother having a dinner. It was good, though.

And it goes without saying (except that I'm doing so anyway) that I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2015, even if I don't expect one for myself.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, on to the actual update.

Not much has been going on in the TV front other than Legend of Korra finale (Which I discussed in a separate post) and The Doctor Who XMas special (which I don't feel like discussing it at length... suffice it to say it was an episode that was constantly annoying me while it was going on because of things that didn't make sense, but then they explained all of it more or less satisfactory so... I guess I kind of half-liked it? Though it's a weird kind of like. Maybe it'll rewatch better. Also, didn't especially like the ending.

What else... well, I should probably update on the cooking front.

Since I started learning to cook, I've actually cooked, in some limited sense of the word, almost every night for the last three months. A couple "grab fast food" nights and a few family occasions (and inevitable days of leftovers), and a handful of days where my brother cooked (he's busy and stressed with work and school most of the time so I don't want to ask him to do extra... so I like helping him out).

Now, mostly, it's fairly simple stuff... packaged side-dishes where you just have to pour in a pot and follow directions, frozen vegetables, and a couple times were it's something super simple "just pop it in an oven and wait" meals like frozen pizza (though I usually add mushrooms), but a fair number of meats where I actually cook... burgers and sausages being the most common, or ground beef for hamburger helper/tacos. I've also now cooked pork chops (including seasoning, searing, and then finishing in the oven), pork roast (rubbing a seasoning on it and slicing it from a larger roast) with carrots (prepared from fresh, peeled and chopped and) cooked in the juices, bacon and eggs a few different ways, and made what (if I do say so myself) was a pretty excellent meatloaf (in addition to dicing mushrooms for the loaf mix along with other ingredients, I also left three whole mushrooms in the middle as a little surprise which seemed to give it an awesome extra moistness). So I'm glad to be learning new things. And I haven't poisoned anyone yet.

But now let's go to Book Foo. As usual, reviews are usually grabbed from my Goodreads account, and unless otherwise noted don't have what I feel are significant spoilers but may include some minor information outside of the cut (and a 'back-of-the-book' summary before the cut, so if you don't like those you should probably stop reading the entry entirely right now).

Finished: Exo, by Steven Gould (Jumper, Book 4)

Millicent ('Cent') Rice is a teenager who has inherited the otherwise unique ability to teleport from her parents. She can go anywhere she's been, or anywhere she can see clearly, in the blink of an eye, and bring anything she can carry with her. So what does a girl like that do when she wants to make her mark on the world (and also needs a project to distract her from dwelling on a recent breakup)? Why, she starts her own space program, of course.

This book continues the Jumper series, which started out focusing on her father but as of the last book, Impulse changed to Cent, but despite that, and other changes, the series remains a fun and compulsively readable adventure. Read more...Collapse )

I do think the above problems (or near-problems) make it possibly the weakest book in the SERIES, it's only by degrees. Ideally, I'd like a bit more of an emotional punch other than the sensawunda (which, granted, is here in spades), and a more directed plot with complications, but I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and am totally on board for more. And there's plenty of room for more Read more...Collapse ) Whatever happens, I'll be there.

Finished: Pushing Ice, by Alastair Reynolds
When one of Saturn's moons suddenly leaves orbit and takes off for a distant star, revealing itself to be an unfathomably ancient alien starship, a nuclear-powered ice-mining ship is the only one near enough to have a chance at getting some detailed observations before it leaves the system. As they struggle to learn all they can, they soon discover that returning home may not be as simple as they thought, and begin a journey that will take them to the depths of space and time and force them to struggle just to survive. Read more...Collapse ) If it wasn't for the characters, this would be one of my favorites of Reynolds' books, as it probably has the most appealing (to me) central premise. As it is, it lands somewhere squarely in the middle.

Finished: Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch, Book 2)
(summary cut because it's slightly spoilery for the ending of the first book)

Read more...Collapse ) The quieter, lower-stakes nature of the plot is the biggest flaw, but... it's not really all that big. If that's the worst you can say about it, it's almost like you're reaching for something to say. I liked the book, I enjoyed the characters, and even the pace was pretty good. If you liked the first book, you'll probably like this one as well, but if not, there's not a lot to change your mind, either. When the third book comes out, I'll certainly be reading that as well.

Finished: Maelstrom, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 2)

(again cutting summary because description is slightly spoilery for book 1) Read more...Collapse )Still, on the whole it's a worthy sequel, may even be better than the first (it's a hard call, since they focus on different things and either might appeal to me more when I'm in a certain mood).

Finished: Infoquake, by Daniel Louis Edelmen
Infoquake tells the story of a ruthless businessman in the far future and his attempt to do a product launch for a new technology that's going to change the world. That about describes everything that matters, which doesn't matter a lot to me. Read more...Collapse ) This might be somebody's ideal book, but it's not mine. There ARE some cool ideas, but I have to wade through too much stuff I'm not interested in to get to them, and the things that do interest me, they don't really get paid off in a satisfying degree.

Finished: Terminal World, by Alastair Reynolds
Terminal World is the story of Quillon, who lives in a world divided by zones, where the laws of physics are slightly different and different levels of technology work in each zone. Some zones allow only steam and clockwork contraptions, others allow circuitry and computer networks, and still others allow far beyond what Earth has today. A few zones don't even allow life, but even those that do, are optimized for those already born to it... crossing a zone boundary is hazardous, sometimes even fatal, without medication. Spearpoint is a city built on an impossibly tall spire, which contains several zones... but Quillon has to leave. For though he comes from one of the highest-technology zones, he's been in hiding in Neon Heights for years, and the people he's hiding from want him. But that's just the start of his journey, because the zones are unstable, and the whole world is at risk.

Ever since I heard about the book, I was both interested and wary. Interested, because I love the idea of different technology zones and crossing between them. This sounded a little like Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought universe, except all mashed onto one planet. And yet, two things worried me. Read more...Collapse )I would love to see Reynolds come back to this world, maybe not as a sequel (the story could continue, but it doesn't need to, my frustrations with the ending notwithstanding), but merely a different adventure using this world, for I can see plenty of stories left to tell in it.

Finished: This Alien Shore, by C.S. Friedman
The first age of spaceflight ended abruptly when it was discovered that the faster-than-light drive had side effects, altering the genetics of those who used it, which already included millions of colonists bound for different worlds. Earth shut down all travel and left the colonies isolated to survive or fall on their own, and their variants on the human form to develop into their own standards of normal. Centuries later, one of those colonies discovered a new way to travel faster-than-light, and brought together all the human worlds once more... but held a strict and complete monopoly on such travel, forcing everyone else to follow the rules of their Guild or risk being cut off from the rest of the universe. But there's a computer virus spreading which seems to be created to try and learn their secrets, infesting people's brainware and causing more than a few deaths, and the Guild must investigate it. But that's not the only thing that's going on... a teenage girl named Jamiska is on the run and doesn't know why. The subject of an experiment at a young age, she may be another key to toppling the Guild monopoly, and that makes her very valuable to all sorts of people who might not have her personal best interests at heart. But she's on her own... except for the voices in her head.

It's a complicated premise to sum up quickly (I didn't even get into significant spoiler territory), but when reading it, it's fairly easy to grasp, and the author's created a setup for her world and characters that draw you in. Read more...Collapse )I rated this a three, but it's a high three, nearly a four. I'd happily read something else in this universe. It doesn't absolutely need a sequel, but there's plenty of room in this setting to explore other stories.

Finished: The Human Division, by John Scalzi (Old Man's War universe)
The Human Division takes place in the universe of Old Man's War, after the events of that trilogy, but not focusing on the main characters. Instead, it focuses on Harry Wilson, friend of John Perry from the first books, and his adventures as science adviser on a series of missions, many of which are diplomatic in nature, while meanwhile somebody, possibly somebody in the Colonial Union, seeks to sabotage diplomatic measures.

Generally speaking, this is one of those "optional safe bet" books, at least for fans. If you liked the other books in the series, you'll probably like this... but at the same time, it's not required reading by any means. Read more...Collapse ) Because the book seems to suffer from this lack of depth (and the series in general is not typically deep SF), the whole thing winds up feeling a little disposable... fun, mind you, but disposable fun. Like watching one of those milestone episodes of a TV series, where instead of going for big events they let the actors just have fun doing wacky stuff, and you could skip the ep if you had to... you might miss a few plot points, but nothing major. I enjoyed it. But not as much as I did the other books in the series.

Finished: Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey (Expanse, Book 1 )
Leviathan Wakes tells the story of a spaceship crew who respond to a distress call and get way over their heads, and a cop on an asteroid colony trying to find a missing girl, who may have been on the ship giving the distress call.

This is a rollicking space adventure that combines SF, noir, action, and horror, and the first book of a series that has not only become very popular, but is also being made into a TV series. And I can see why... there's a lot of neat stuff here. And yet... I also was left, just a little, underwhelmed. Read more...Collapse )I did like it, and I almost gave it four stars, there was just that niggling TV-vibe that made it feel a little shallower. But I'm almost certainly going to be checking out the sequels, at least the first two or three. I'm not yet sure it's worth committing to all nine.

Started: The Martian, by Andy Weir
Started: Behemoth, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 3)
Started: Burning Paradise, by Robert Charles Wilson

That makes my total list for the year:

1. Briarpatch, by Tim Pratt
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60. Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey (Expanse, #1)

Some stats on what I read:
This year I read 60 books.
According to Goodreads, they totalled 26676 pages, which means I read about 3 pages every hour of the year (though of course, not read that way or I'd go insane).

(Though of course, this is slightly inaccurate as I read something like a 3000 page book of short stories slowly, some in 2013, some in 2014, but since I finished in 2014, they count it there... but, whatever, close enough)
I reread 12 books (vs 48 new to me)
Number of books recieved for free (through giveaways, contests, etc, rather than just given or available free by the author): 5
Favorite Books: Echopraxia by Peter Watts, The Causal Angel but both are parts of series I really enjoyed. For completely new finds, The Newsflesh series by Mira Grant and The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters were nice surprises that gripped me.
 
 
 
Number 6
31 December 2014 @ 10:35 am
Happy Birthday liabrown!!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
19 December 2014 @ 09:08 pm
It's a shame to be ending right when it was mostly hitting it's stride.

LOK was a bit of a mixed bag... it wasn't as good as ATLA... there were times where it COULD have been far better, if they'd done a few things differently, or had a few more episodes so they could better handle their pacing. Still, on the whole, it turned out pretty good, and by the end I think they largely learned from their mistakes.

The last two episodes were fairly enjoyable, if a bit predictable for the most part. (some spoilers)Read more...Collapse )

But that's largely nitpicking.

What we really need to talk about is that ending, as in the last scene. I can't believe they did it. And yet, I wish they had gone that one step further.

Read more...Collapse )
Tags:
 
 
 
Number 6
19 November 2014 @ 12:11 pm
I wasn't going to post this, but it's been playing on my mind regularly since, and maybe narrativizing it will help get it out of there (or maybe that it's all written down somewhere my memory won't feel the need to hold onto it so hard).

So, I go to work very early in the morning, at this time of year well before dawn for the hour or so it takes to walk. Usually it's pretty quiet, especially on Sunday mornings. Last Sunday, not so much.

I was on a section of my walk where it's a very long street, but not particularly well travelled... there's a bus on weekdays, but not on Sundays (at least, not that early), very little traffic or people, and it's residential so although there are streetlight, it's fairly dark overall. I was walking down one side of the street, and heard a couple of people coming up the other side of the street in the other direction. As I got closer, I put it together fairly quickly that they were a young man and woman, and they sounded drunk, and they were arguing... that's not enough that I'd take much notice, but as I got closer, I started to see and hear stuff that worried me, enough that even a coward and confrontation-phobe like me had to step in. Read more...Collapse )

So I think this displaces the homeless woman who wanted me to hold the door to a building for her while she stole her stuff back from another homeless person who was sleeping in the stairwell inside, as the most memorable (but not quite most bizarre) encounter on the street on the way to work (I'm pretty sure I wrote about that other incident, but I can't find the link to it).
 
 
 
Number 6
01 November 2014 @ 02:18 pm
This time, though, my life's actually changed some in the intervening months (aside from the slow pull of entropy), though really it's spillover from my brother's life. Read more...Collapse )

The big effect in my own life (aside from worrying over my brother and the additional cat chores) is in food. See, she was always the cook of the group (she didn't work or even bring in any money through social services or anything, which I guess also means we now are spending less money to maintain the same standard of living), which meant I never really had to do much of anything beyond occasionally putting something in the microwave or oven and coming back when it was done, and could allow my lack of any skills in the area continue to exist (or is it not-exist if it's a lack?). Although my brother does cook some, and did when she didn't feel up to it, he's working a lot with school and actual work, and I didn't want to add to his burden by asking him to cook for me, and in fact the reverse, that at least I could help out by making sure he had a decent hot meal without having to do much work when he comes home (though he often cooks on the weekends so it's not totally one-sided). So I've taken it upon myself to finally learn to cook. Read more...Collapse )

But let's move on from that. Other than that, my life's pretty much the same. Didn't do anything for Halloween (though it was cold and rainy so kids probably didn't enjoy it either... since we never get any Trick or Treaters at our apartment, I might have considered just going out for a walk to see what costumes were on display if not for that). Time does seem to be moving at a rapid pace, except for me, though. I almost feel like I'm in one of those SF stories about time dilation.

Anyway, TV... mildly enjoying stuff this year. Of new shows, Flash is okay fun, and Gotham I'm still not sure it works but it's mostly been holding my attention. It is, if nothing else, pretty well cast, I can believe Catwoman-girl becomes Catwoman and Penguin-Guy becomes Penguin. As for old stuff, Walking Dead's been pretty good, SHIELD's been somewhat better than this time last year, and most of the rest of the stuff is okay but unremarkable.

I should single out DW for special attention, because New Doctor. So far, I like the Doctor, but the writing is mixed. My favorites were probably Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline, both of which were written by the same guy, so I hope he does more next year. Though I have to say I really disliked the Forest one, also by a new writer. Just shoddy all around, maybe one good moment in it ruined by being such an awful episode. But in general, some new writers would be nice (especially a few women), and I think Moffat needs to step away. He's been at it a while, and he's reusing a lot of the same old ideas in new dresses... he's had the 50th anniversary, invented a new doctor and fudged the regeneration count so that he could tell the story of his final-of-12 regenerations, and introduced the first of a new set... that's enough, it's time to let somebody else put their mark on it. (And I hope whoever does it next ditches the "standalone episodes that dangle an ongoing mystery that gets unsatisfyingly resolved in some big finale" pattern and just gives us great episodes and a great finale that comes out of NOWHERE.

Also, I miss the old live-in companion style, rather than what it's been for Clara and about half of Amy/Rory, where they have a normal life that the Doctor just pops in on now and then. I want the Doctor to be that strange man who takes you off on a wild set of adventures that lasts as long as you can stand to stay, a roller coaster ride for as long as you can hold on, and changes your life forever, not to be Cosmic Kramer who keeps popping into your place to try and drag you into his latest crazy scheme (it occurs to me that Seinfeld is probably a dated reference by now). I guess tonight (probably just before the To Be Continued) we learn who Missy is, but so far I'm kind of meh on that too.

Anyway, let's finish with my book list since last time. As usual, the reviews are pulled from my Goodreads account.

Finished: Blindsight by Peter Watts (reread)

Reread this in preparation for Echopraxia, already reviewed it several times here.

Finished: Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross

Five thousand years in the future, humanoid artificial life form Krina investigates the disappearance of her sister that may be connected to an ancient financial scam.

This is set in the same universe as Saturn's Children, but aside from sharing the same setting of a hard SF, no-FTL universe where humanity has died out and robots have replaced them, there's very little in common... the plots don't connect and the characters are all unrelated. (Short version: more interesting than entertaining, and on the whole not as fun as SC)Read more...Collapse ) Your mileage may vary, and it might thrill you.

Finished: Zero Echo Schadow Prime by Peter Samet (received for free)
Full disclosure: I received this book for free as part of a Goodreads giveaway, but I'll do my best to give it a fair and honest review.

Zero Echo Shadow Prime tells the story of Charlie Nobunga, a young genius who just programmed a new sort of AI assistant that actually feels like a real person. In the midst of her fame, she's diagnosed with cancer, the same kind that killed her twin sister, but the head of a cutting edge technology company proposes a solution... to scan her brain and copy her personality into a stronger, artificial body. Charlie's unsure about the whole thing, but the procedure goes ahead... and many different Charlies awaken, each unaware of the others, sometimes unaware of a lot more. First, there's Prime, the planned superior body, a form that could be a cyborg supersolider. There's also Echo, a four-armed warrior with no memories, in a digital world full of other, slightly different Echos. There's Shadow, who's been converted into an AI assistant in somebody's head. And finally, there's Charlie's original body, which wasn't destroyed during the scan but never intended to be reawoken unless there was a problem... except it's been kidnapped by Luddites, who want her help to take down the company that scanned her.

This book's not only a first novel, but a self-published one. This normally makes me very leery of potential poor quality works (I've been burned before), although I'm certainly willing to give a first novel a little more leeway, and the book's concept was impressive and ambitious. So does it live up to it, and is it a successful novel that you could expect to get published on its own? Read more...Collapse ) I guess the best thing to do is split the difference and call it a four, because I did really enjoy it, just with some reservations.

Finished: The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke tells the tale of the last human city, Diaspar, a billion years in the future, and eternally stable thanks to a population engineered to their environment. But one man lacks the fear of the outside world that grips everybody else, and driven by a curiosity about what lies outside the gates.

This is, I'm told, a rework of another work, Against the Fall of Night, but I haven't read it to compare, and I'm unlikely to. Suffice it to say, it's an ambitious book that, while it has some typical failings of SF books of its era, is full of sense of wonder and ably conveys a sense of awe.Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Year's Best SF 17 (short story collection)
A collection of short stories published in 2011, chosen as the best by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. As usual, it's a mixed bag. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Crux by Ramez Naam

Crux continues the story begun in Nexus, in which a technology-based drug installs an operating system and wireless interface in people's brains. Nexus is growing in popularity, more and more kids are being born with Nexus in their systems or growing up learning how to be mentally connected, and groups wanting to stop the technology's spread are growing more desperate. And those who are finding ways to abuse it growing more crafty. Kaden Lane, one of the inventors of the latest version of Nexus, is doing what he can against both groups, using his secret back-door code to shut down those who use Nexus to hack into people's brains and control them for profit, perverted kicks, or political motives, but he has to question whether even he has the right to control others in that way. Read more...Collapse )How entertaining? As soon as I finished, I was ready to go online and, as part of my next bundle of online purchases, I was going to include the next book in the series, Apex... only to find out that I was mistaken and it's actually not released yet. And I was very disappointed in that, because I really want to see where it goes.

Finished: Echopraxia by Peter Watts
In Echopraxia, posthumans rule the world, but there's still a place for ordinary baseline humans... just barely, as a failsafe, a measure of comparison, a pawn in the schemes of hive minds, alien intelligences and more. Daniel Bruks is one such baseline, manipulated into joining a scientific religious order out on a search for the source of signals from space, which may be an alien intelligence, but the hive mind thinks might be God.

This is a follow-up to Blindsight one of my favorite SF books ever, and as such, has a pretty high bar right off the bat. (Short version: Not as good, but still on my shortlist for best SF novel of the year)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Homeland by Cory Doctorow

Homeland continues the story of Marcus Yallow, who appeared in Doctorow's excellent Little Brother, fighting against those who use the threat of terrorism to undermine the rights of the law-abiding. It's been some years since he told his story of imprisonment and fighting back, and the fame's ended, and just surviving is getting tough with the recession. But when an old associate comes to him and hands him a batch of leaked documents with the instructions to release them if anything happens... and then later witnesses her being abducted by the same forces behind his own imprisonment, he has to decide whether to get involved again. (Short version: Liked it up until the end dropped the ball) Read more...Collapse )I still enjoyed it on the whole, but it wasn't as good.

Finished: The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson (received for free)

Two private detectives who are working for the government's spy agency uncover some kind of conspiracy after a terrorist attack on a distant planet kills millions of people. (short version: didn't like it) Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Last Plane To Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay lake (short story collection, received for free)

The final collection of short stories from Jay Lake, a SF/Fantasy writer who recently died of cancer. Read more...Collapse ) If a novel had the same proportion of "stuff I like" and "stuff I didn't care for" it would probably get a two, but that rating's unfair and even misleading for a short story collection, where you're often skimming through stuff that's not your tastes. So I'll give it a three.

Finished: iD: The Second Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby

iD picks up where vN leaves off, except it focuses on vN Javier, who's found love with Amy but still has his failsafe that makes doing harm to humans unthinkable. And that fact is used against him, to force him into betraying his love. Once that's done, he must go on a quest for redemption, falling on his old techniques of charm and seduction to find someone who might have a backup copy of Amy's personality. Read more...Collapse )I certainly enjoyed it. I'll probably read book three, if there's a sequel. I'm just not as excited over it as I was the first.

Finished: Starfire by Peter Watts (semi-reread)
A geothermal power facility on the bottom of the ocean floor isn't the most inviting place to work. Overwhelming pressure, constant danger, near-complete darkness, monsters of the deep, not to mention them having to cut into your body to let you survive the necessary excursions outside the station. Under such conditions, normal people might bend, or break, in unpredictable ways. So if you're a big corporation that just wants to get the job done, it might occur to you to send down people who were already broken... people who've grown up with constant pressure and fear, who had monsters in their own family or have become monsters themselves... people who've grown addicted to being used and abused. These are people who your studies indicate might break, but do so in more predictable ways, ways that don't compromise the mission. Of course, you've forgotten that extreme environments can serve as crucibles, that sometimes broken things put themselves back together stronger, stranger than before. And there are other things at the bottom of the ocean, things that have evolved in those extreme environments, stranger and more dangerous than dysfunctional workers, and together they might change everything. Read more...Collapse )If I were going to recommend any book of this author, it'd still be Blindsight... but Starfish is pretty good too, and well worth checking out.

Finished: Grass by Sheri S. Tepper
The aristocratic class of Grass go hunting for creatures they call "foxen", on things they call "mounts", led by beasts they call "hounds", but it's a much darker game on the planet Grass, where these alien creatures are much more dangerous, and stranger, than the earthly ones they're named after. It's more than a cultural institution, it's practically an obsession among the nobles of this one insular world. The nobles would be happy if nobody from the outside world set foot on Grass ever again, but the rest of the galaxy is secretly facing a plague... and there's some evidence that Grass is the only place that plague doesn't exist. So Grass is pressured in to accepting a family of ambassadors, who's mission it is to find out if there is a cure there, all while hopefully keeping the plague secret. But to do that, they must uncover the dark secrets of Grass.

It took a while for me to get into the book, I have to admit. Read more...Collapse ) On the whole, I liked it, am glad I read it, but it wasn't mind-blowing and I don't think it's a book I'm going to read again anytime soon.

Started: Exo by Steven Gould (Jumper, Book 4)
Started: Maelstrom, by Peter Watts (Rifters, Book 2)
Started: Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds
 
 
 
Number 6
01 September 2014 @ 07:00 pm
The con flu arrives right on schedule!
 
 
 
Number 6
31 August 2014 @ 09:20 pm
Yes, I survived Fan Expo 2014. Did I have fun? Honestly, no, there were a couple minor bright spots, but on the whole, it was depressing exhausting affair. I didn't even wind up taking many pictures.

I'll give a bit more detail behind the cut (feel free to ignore the whining and skip right to the pictures).

The Narrative:Read more...Collapse )

Picture time! Not very many!Read more...Collapse )

Oh, and the sketch I got from Adrian Alphona (Runaways artist): Read more...Collapse )

I think, in the future, unless there is a specific person I want to see and get an autograph from (or I ever figure out somebody I want to cosplay), I'm going to skip cons from now on. I always wind up depressed after, and it was even worse this time around. And I'm still feeling run-down and drained.
 
 
 
Number 6
20 August 2014 @ 01:21 pm
I'll start with TV so you can more easily skip the book reviews. I've been falling a bit behind on TV watching. Doctor Who is in a few days though, won't be falling behind on that. But of the shows I've been watching, bearing in mind that I'm probably only halfway through the aired episodes:

Falling Skies: Got pretty bad real fast. The show was never GREAT, but it was decent fun with a sense of progression in the storylines... until this year when they decided to just abandon a bunch of plots so they could do riffs on prison camps, Hitler Youth, hippies, and the old Guerilla war plot they started with and did to death. I can barely care anymore. But it's not nearly as bad as what happened to...

Under the Dome:
One of the initial executive producers of UtD, season 1, was Brian K. Vaughan, author of Runaways, and a number of excellent comics. He left for season 2. If how season 1 turned out was disappointing (and it was), it is at least somewhat of a relief to know that the moment he left, it turned to complete and utter crap instantly. I mean, it's pretty much laughably bad.

The Last Ship: Watching this mainly because Adam Baldwin's in it playing the first officer. It's okay.

Defiance: Something of a surprise, they actually seem to be taking some risks here, and it has the sense of a show that somebody actually cares about. Sure, there's still a lot of problematic stuff, and it's still more than a little cheesy, but on the whole I'm enjoying what I'm seeing more than the first year.

Orphan Black: Only seen the S2 premiere, watching it as it airs on TV here. Enjoying it, though.

Continuum: Haven't even dipped into the third season yet.

Penny Dreadful: Watched and liked the first episode, but I haven't gone beyond that yet.

I think that's all of it. There are some other TV shows I've heard that might appeal to my interests (The Strain comes to mind), but I haven't dipped into yet.

So, now, onto books. Before I move onto reviews, I thought I'd mention two things. First, the Hugo Awards were this past weekend, and the Best Novel winner was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which also won the Nebula, Locus, and Clarke award. It is also a book that I received free through a Goodreads giveaway before publication. So I have a signed ARC of a Hugo and Nebula award winning novel, so, yay me. :). And I think it's quite worthy of the honors. If you're interested, my review is here.

Second, I went to the used bookstore yesterday and picked up 6 books, including the final Culture book, The Hydrogen Sonata (sniff... RIP Iain M. Banks), Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (sort of a similar premise as Neverwhere which I always enjoyed), and Grass by Sheri S. Teper, which I've heard some good things about.

Anyway, onto reviews. As usual, usually snipped from my Goodreads reviews.

Finished: The Apex Book of World SF (short story collection)
A collection of short stories from authors from or in different parts of the world than the traditional sources of western SF. Some are science fiction, some fantasy, some horror. Read more...Collapse )

Although I was left a little disappointed, I still would read future volumes of this if I stumble upon them... although I would really like an all science-fiction collection of foreign SF.

Finished: The Fenris Device, by Brian Stableford (Hooded Swan #5, reread)
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Swan Song, by Brian Stableford (Hooded Swan #6, reread)
The last of Stableford's Hooded Swan novels, about an abrasive pilot and expert in alien environments and the occasionally unwelcome mind-symbiot that shares his brain, starts with him free, at least as somebody in his position can be. Read more...Collapse )Still, revisiting the universe provided me with a lot of enjoyment, and I'm sure I'll come back to it somewhere down the line once again.

Finished: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Detective Hank Palace is investigating a man found hanging in a restroom, that he thinks may be a murder. Nobody believes him, and many think he's crazy or stupid, he should just let it go, mark it down as a suicide, and move on. It's not a grand conspiracy of silence, it's simply a matter of fact: everybody in the world knows that there's a civilization-ending asteroid on it's way to Earth, hitting with one-hundred percent probability, and impact's only months away. Suicides are way up. Of course that also means that if you wanted to get away with murder, the easiest thing to do would be to make it look like just another suicide. Read more...Collapse ) Quite recommended, probably even for non-science fiction fans.

Finished: Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

Book Two of the Last Policeman series so I'll cut the whole description. Short version: Better than the first.

Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Ventus, by Karl Schroeder (reread)

On the planet Ventus, where humans are prohibited from all but the most limited pieces of technology, Jordan Mason lives what he believes is an ordinary life, expecting to eventually inherit his father's stoneworking business. But that all changes when he begins having visions of a distant warrior named Armiger whose army is destroyed for defying the powerful Winds that control and moderate the planet's ground, seas, and atmosphere. Soon, Jordan learns he's also key to finding Armiger, who is the agent of a malevolent and nearly godlike entity known as 3340, recently defeated in a centuries-long war against the galaxy-spanning human civilization Jordan has never heard of. Worse Armiger may not simply be an agent, he may be a means for 3340 to recreate itself from scratch and take over all of Ventus and the rest of the galaxy. Read more...Collapse )I think this is my third or fourth reread, and, although it's not my favorite of Schroeder's books (that honor belongs to Lady of Mazes, which is set in the same universe but centuries earlier and far from the planet of Ventus), but I'm sure I'll be rereading it many times over the years.

Finished: World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters
Conclusion of the Last Policeman series, so I'll cut completely. Short version: Weakest of the three, but worth reading. Read more...Collapse )I still highly recommend the series as a whole.

Finished: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow (reread)
Marcus Yallow is skipping school with his friends to play a game on the streets of his hometown, San Francisco... when terrorists blow up a nearby bridge. In the ensuing chaos, all four are detained by the government, interrogate, and threatened... and only three make it out. They have no idea what happened to their friend Darryl, but they've been warned against talking about what happened, and the country is growing even more paranoid, mass surveillance and monitoring of everyday citizens and civil rights are being quashed in the name of fighting terror, and Marcus realizes that he has to do something. Read more...Collapse )I rate it 4 stars for me personally, it's really enjoyable even to me as an adult, but I think as a YA book, it rates 5.

Finished: Lockstep by Karl Schroeder
Toby McGonigal has been lost in space, hibernating for 14,000 years, and then is found, to find his younger siblings rule an empire. For them, only 40 years have passed, thanks to an innovative society they started on worlds between the stars and far from home. These societies are built on the Lockstep method, which involves whole societies freezing themselves on a schedule, living for very short periods in inhospitable worlds, then hibernating for years while their bots gather resources. This allows not only survival on these marginal worlds, but trade, for the light speed limit might be insurmountable, but if you time your journeys correctly, travel to other worlds can happen in one night's sleep from the perspective of not only you, but both worlds. However, Toby's return threatens his own family's rule, and they want him out of the picture. Short version: disappointing, the mix between hard SF and YA doesn't work too well, but stunning ideas.Read more...Collapse )Despite all this, I did enjoy it, and I absolutely loved the basic ideas and the universe he set up. I'd love to read more stories in this setting, particularly ones where it's just "business as usual" for the universe (albeit with big stakes for the characters) rather than a character who's quest threatens the upheaval of the system entirely.

Finished: The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi

The conclusion of the series that started in The Quantum Thief, The Causal Angel deals with posthuman gentleman thief Jean le Flambeur Read more...Collapse )Highly recommend this series for fans of post-singularity fiction.

Started: Blindsight by Peter Watts (reread)
Started: Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
Started: Zero Echo Schadow Prime by Peter Samet (received for free)
Tags: , ,
 
 
 
Number 6
13 August 2014 @ 01:01 pm
So, it's about 2.5-3 weeks until the annual Fan Expo con.

Some of the guests are cool (Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill, the core three of the Eleventh Doctor's run on Doctor Who... some Walking Dead people, some Arrow people, a few Trek captains), but none that I'm immediately willing to go shell out a huge amount of cash for autographs for. Normally I go for autographs from Firefly-related guests, but this year for some reason they got Nathan Fillion, who also came last year. He's certainly a great guest, but two years in a row? At least throw in a second guest. :)

But, as of this moment at least, I'm tentatively planning to go. The decision might still change. It has before, but it's remained fairly consistent the last week or two. One of the reasons is that they're celebrating the 25th anniversary of Prisoners of Gravity an old show that discussed comics, SF, and fantasy books, which exposed me to a lot of authors and such (at one time I used it to generate reading lists), and I'd like a chance to thank the cast and crew. And I suspect even if they don't have a separate autograph section and just do a panel, it's a panel that a) won't be too overcrowded, compared to others, and b) will be filled with people who are also readers, so a little more chance at common ground. So I'll try to attend that panel, however, it has to not only be on Saturday, but at a reasonable time on Saturday, and the con schedule hasn't been finalized yet so I don't know if that'll happen. That aside, I'm going mostly for the experience, see the cosplays, force myself out of my shell a little, and in general break up the monotony that is my life just a tiny little bit.

Also I kinda like the idea of playing ticket fairy... going early as I always do and grabbing a ticket for a place in the autograph line for some of the stars I'm considering spending money for (Smith, for example), and then randomly bestowing it on some latecomer and possible first-time congoer who is despondent that they're probably going to have to wait forever (because it's 3pm and they're now serving tickets up to 100 and are giving away tickets numbered 600). I won't just grab line tickets willy-nilly for giving out later, that's not fair play, I think, but I think it's fair if I'm genuinely considering getting an autograph and then decide maybe to give it up to somebody who wants it more but had bad luck (and of course, no charge or anything, just make somebody's day and disappear into the crowd).
 
 
 
Number 6
09 August 2014 @ 06:30 pm
So, Weird Al's got his new album out and I was inspired:

(To the tune of "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons):

Paperback Addict

Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa, oh, oh
Whoa

I just picked up a brand new book
Starts out okay but doubt I'll get hooked
Wait, oh my god, a shocking twist (gasp, sounds of pages turning)

Should pack it in, getting late,
Just wanna see how this part turns out...
I just hit a suspenseful bit,
Whoa...

Can't put it down, the story's just too great,
and the hero's tempting fate...
I'll stop right after this page... after this page...
Maybe just one more page.. just one more page...
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict

I'll go to bed, but I won't sleep
My brain's already in it too deep,
And there's a light, in easy reach...
Whoa...

Should pack it in, getting late,
Just wanna see how this part turns out...
I just hit a suspenseful bit,
Whoa...

Can't put it down, the story's just too great,
and the hero's tempting fate...
I'll stop right after this page... after this page...
Maybe just one more page.. just one more page...
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict

Fine I'll head out... I can read while I walk
Don't bug me at lunch, I've no time to talk...

Can't put it down, the story's just too great,
and the hero's tempting fate...
I'll stop right after this page... after this page...
Maybe just one more page.. just one more page...
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm a
Paperback addict, paperback addict
Tags: ,
 
 
 
Number 6
25 June 2014 @ 09:11 pm
Well, I'm always somewhat out of touch, of course. I don't even know what's going on with my life anymore. Not that anything actually is, but, I just feel adrift disconnected from time and space.

Which also means lately I've completely fallen down on wishing people on my flist happy birthdays. If I missed yours, my apologies. And today, happy birthday redlantern2051!

But if I don't have a world of my own, at least I have worlds of fiction, at least somewhat. Legend of Korra season 3 starts Friday... apparently some of the epsiodes were leaked and I guess they rushed it to air to minimize the damage. But I won't complain, I like the show (even if it's still nowhere as good as Avatar).

Game of Thrones is over for the year, and it was pretty good, although now there's kind of a gap until Doctor Who, which is in August, which might as well be the new fall season. I guess there's Defiance, which is okay (some of the old Farscape feel there)... Falling Skies, which was never great, so disappointed me with the S4 premiere that I'm almost done with the show. And I still haven't tried The Last Ship or Penny Dreadful, but I want to, eventually, just for curiosity's sake. And S2 of Orphan Black I also need to get to (along with S3 of Continuum... Canada's really kind of doing well with SFTV, let's keep that up).

I don't have anything to say about movies, because I haven't really watched any. I've been playing the Batman Arkham Games over the last few weeks... Asylum and City, not Origins, I don't have that one, but I got the Game of the Year version of the other two off a Humble Bundle some time back and I'm finally getting around to them. They're fun... Asylum had a story that made more sense, but City has better gameplay options (especially when you have the options to play Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing, as I do... if only they included Cassandra Cain). I actually got 100% completion on Arkham Asylum, every achievement, and completed the main game on City and... well, I'm still having fun on some of the associated challenges... I doubt I'll go 100% for it, but I'm ejoying it. And it's been eating my brain a little.

Fan Expo's been adding to its guest list, and apparently we're getting Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor), and Nathan Fillion, who was here last year... a few Walking Dead people, Arrow from Arrow, Patrick Stewart, Stan Lee, Shatner... but right now, although I'm a little tempted with Matt Smith, there's really nobody that will draw me out from my hermit tendencies and make me make the trek to a con and the inevitable tiredness and depression that follow. So, right now, I may be skipping this year. We'll see. Maybe they'll add somebody extra cool, or maybe I'll just be in a mood to go.

And books. Speaking of, although I've largely avoided reddit, I have been drawn a little to one community that discusses print SF (it's r/printSF), which at least satisfies some small amount of my yearnings for social interaction. Anyway, book foo! As usual, most of my thoughts are cut and pasted from Goodreads. Since last time, I've...

Finished: Voice of the Whirlwind, by Walter Jon Williams
Steward's memories are fifteen years out of date, because, even though he had clone insurance when he died, he hadn't updated the memory backup ever since he got out of training as a mercenary soldier. In those intervening years, the brutal corporate wars in space that he was recruited for ended after long years of conflict when an alien race made contact with Earth. Steward himself, aside from making difficult decisions in those wars, also got divorced twice... oh, and was murdered on a distant planet. His clone is somewhat adrift, driven by a desire to get back into space and find answers, but there are bigger games going on.

Voice of the Whirlwind is in the cyberpunk subgenre, a world of hi-tech implants and gritty street-level characters, film noir mixed with SF, often dealing with themes of government breakdown and corporate domination that are surprisingly relevant today. But it is a book of it's time... granted, a very good book. Read more...Collapse ) If you like Cyberpunk, this is a book to try, if you haven't already. If not... well, it still might be worth a look.

Finished: Only Superhuman, by Christopher L. Bennett
Mankind has spread out through the solar system, living in habitats in the asteroid belt, among other exotic places. And such exotic places have lead to exotic people... while highly restricted on Earth, elsewhere, mods that alter the human form and potential are common. Some of them have banded together and deliberately taken on the trappings of superheroes, to defend others and help foster acceptance of their differences. One of these is Emerald Blaze, a new Troubleshooter with a checkered past... but after her mentor dies and the team decides to get more proactive, she's drawn in the middle of a conflict between multiple factions and must decide where her loyalties lie.

This book was described as a "hard SF superhero story", which seemed like an intriguing idea, particularly for one like me who likes both SF and comics. I picked the book up on a whim seeing it on sale in a bookstore that was closing, so how could I lose?

Unfortunately, the book doesn't really live up to the promise, or it does too well, depending on your point of view. The hard SF aspect is pretty good, actually. And the basics of the superhero plot, while not especially novel, is solid. Combining the two should be a natural fit.

The problem is, I think, he also threw in a bunch of the worst parts of superhero comics... the kind of things that, by fusing it with hard SF, I was hoping to avoid. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Living Dead 2 (short story collection)
Another collection of zombie tales, from a variety of authors.

I think I liked this one a little more than its immediate predecessor, The Living Dead, Read more...Collapse ) So, on the whole, this volume satisfied me more, and similarly might satisfy those who are fans more of The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later than horror fans in general.

Finished: The Year's Best Sf 16 (short story collection)
A collection of some of the best stories of the year 2010, in the opinions of the editors, at least. As usual, sometimes they really hit on my tastes, and sometimes are wide off the mark. Read more...Collapse )But overall, as these things usually go, it's a fairly pleasant anthology.

Finished: The Halcyon Drift, by Brian Stableford (reread)
I've reviewed this several times in this journal over the years, so I'll just cut the whole thing. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Redshirts, by John Scalzi
Redshirts tells the story of a young ensign and his friends assigned to the flagship ship of a Star Trek-like galactic civilization. At first he's excited, but then comes to realize how often people die on away missions. Everybody except the Captain, Science Officer, Chief Engineer, and one particular lieutenant are at risk for sudden gory inexplicable death. And the rest of the ship's crew seems to know it, too, always contriving to be somewhere else when somebody's needed for a mission. And that's not the only weird thing going on, there's plenty that just doesn't make sense.

It's hard to talk much about the book without 'spoiling' it, if it's even a spoiler, because I knew it in advance and think even if I didn't, I would have figured it out in the first few pages. The book's about what happens when Star Trek-style redshirts Read more...Collapse )I honestly can't see this as being worthy of the Hugo award or the praise it received. It's not awful. It's an okay book that might particularly resonate with SF fans in a pleasant way (although partly due to it pandering to them). It does some mildly clever things from time to time. It's not a particularly GOOD book. And if it really was the best SF novel of the year it came out, then it must have been a very poor year.

Finished: Rhapsody in Black, by Brian Stableford (reread)
Again, part of one of my favorite series, reviewed here several times, so, cut. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Risen Empire, by Scott Westerfield
The Rix, a cult of machine-augmented humans who want to propagate planet-scale AIs throughout the galaxy, have just launched a major operation on the planet Legis XV, a world part of the Risen Empire, and the current location of the Emperor's little sister. If Captain Laurent Zai doesn't get her back, not only is a major war likely, but he'll be expected to sacrifice his life for his failure. This is how it is in the Empire, a society long on traditions established by the immortal leader, who discovered the secret to granting eternal life, though death, to himself and others, and using that knowledge to establish a perpetual rule over eighty worlds.

This is an ambitious space opera with loads of imaginative ideas, both in terms of technology and the social policy consequences of it. It has the seeds of being one of the great space operas that the genre remembers for decades, if not forever. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to them.Read more...Collapse )I'd give it three stars. It's a high three stars, though, and I will be reading the sequel, The Killing of Worlds, when I find it. Hopefully that one will improve on it.

Finished: Promised Land, by Brian Stableford (reread)
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Stories: Five Years of Original Fiction on Tor.com (short story collection, ebook)
This is a huge collection of about 150 stories that have appeared over the last five years on Tor's website, that I've been reading in dribs and drabs on my phone over the past year or so.Read more...Collapse )But because of the high proportion of stories that did not interest me, I can only give the collection two stars... it was okay.

Finished: Memory, by Linda Nagata
On Jubilee's world, there is the silver, that rises on some nights over the land, covering everything not specially protected. For structures and tools, the silver sometimes leaves them alone, sometimes wipes them away, and sometimes returns buildings or items from the distant past. For living things, though, being swallowed by the silver is a death sentence. Jubilee's brother Jolly was taken by the silver as a youth, in front of her eyes. Years later, she meets somebody who can survive the silver... someone who claims her brother is still alive.

This is one of those books that are a curious blend between SF and Fantasy. Read more...Collapse )A decent outing, with some really imaginative ideas but ultimately not what I was hoping for, although others might like it more.

Finished: The Paradise Game, by Brian Stableford (reread)
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Killing of Worlds, by Scott Westerfield
This is the sequel to The Risen Empire, but really it's the second half of a longer work that was split in two to meet retailer demands. (as such, much of the review itself is spoilery for the first book, and I'll cut it entirely: short version... disappointing on a plot level)Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Apex Book of World SF (short story collection, ebook)
Started: The Fenris Device, by Brian Stableford
Started: The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters

That's it, I guess, probably all I have to say for another few months. But despite my relative silence, I have been reading every post on my friends list (though sometimes up to a week or so late), so if you're like me sometimes wondering, yes, people are out there reading!

PS: Seriously, LJ? You still haven't fixed the bug where if you hit the "post" button on the My-LJ page, it takes you to the more options page, and if you hit the "More options" it just posts what you've got? Anyway, fixed the half-completed post.
 
 
 
Number 6
15 May 2014 @ 05:11 am
Happy Birthday to hayzil today, if you're still out there, and, a belated (edit: Happy) birthday to st_aurafina who had one yesterday that I missed.
 
 
 
Number 6
13 May 2014 @ 11:09 am
Happy Birthday locker_monster!!!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
01 May 2014 @ 07:25 am
Happy Birthday 80sfiend!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
26 April 2014 @ 02:29 pm
Happy Birthday anomilygrace and donna_c_punk!!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
24 April 2014 @ 11:47 am
So, yeah, see title. No excuses, I've been reading my flist, just, didn't really feel like I had enough to say to be worth an entry, and when I did, I just didn't feel up to it.

There was my Birthday last month. Thanks to those of you who gave well-wishes or gifts if I haven't responded to you personally (or hey, even if I had, thanks again!). Birthdays don't really mean much to me anymore, but it's still nice to hear.

And Easter (which includes my half-birthday, Good Friday) wasn't bad, turned out to be a lot of Greek Food. Weather's warmed up, which I guess is good, although I prefer ultra cold to the heat of summer, which is coming. Maybe this year I'll try to get a window air conditioner... I can afford it, my main worry is whether my room (or apartment as a whole)'s electrical system can handle it. It's already a bit iffy. But maybe I'll give it a try.

There was some news I was going to write on the 'social interactions with other human beings' front, but it sort of took an unexpected turn, but I guess it's still sort of worth mentioning and who knows, might still work out okay:

I am/was developing a work friend. I'm friendly enough with most of the people there, but it's on a very superficial level, but there's a guy that's there one of the days I work who's about my age, so we have a lot of the same cultural milestones: remembering the same old TV shows, etc, and, as it turns out, a number of the same tastes, both past and present, in media, and it's been fun talking to him on those days about stupid stuff like our crackmayor or the finer points of zombie survival, enough that I actually looked forward to showing up to work. He's a bit more of the 'party dude' type where a lot of his stories involve getting drunk, whereas I'm a more sedate homebody type, so it might not grow beyond just having enjoyable, easygoing, conversations at work, but it's more than I've had in a long time outside of family.

And, apparently, he had to go to the hospital last week. I don't know what the issue is, exactly, apparently he's okay but one of the bosses at work mentioned it's some kind of ongoing issue and they might have to switch his hours, in a way where I'd probably not encounter him again. Maybe that's only temporary, and regardless of where his schedule winds up being, I hope he recovers.

I also had a few weeks where one of the cashiers at one of the grocery stores I went to seemed to take a spontaneous interest me and asking me random questions, but that petered out, so I was probably imagining that.

Anyway... do I really want to walk about TV or movies? Well, movies I think are definitely out, I don't think I've even watched any since last time. Oh, I did watch the Veronica Mars movie of course, which I liked, but I don't have a lot to say for it except that it felt like the pilot to a new series and I kind of wish it was.

TV? Walking Dead, GoT are both good. Arrow's also doing well and SHIELD finally has started kicking into high gear. The 100 is a little cheesy, and definitely teen-y, but I kind of like it so far... they have at least taken some daring moves that I didn't see coming, where I was too used to expecting the safe choice. Beyond that, there's not much going on... networks will be announcing their new shows for next year soon (some already have announced potentials, but I haven't spotted anything really exciting yet).

Online TV, I've been enjoying Tabletop with Wil Wheaton lately (it's like pretending I have friends!), and apparently they're going the crowdfunding route for season 3. I donated, because I'm a fan of the show and I'm a fan of the "crowdfund and give away free after" business model. It's already pretty well successful, but I'm rooting for them to hit $1 million for the RPG spinoff campaign show they've been talking about it. If anyone here's interested, the fundraising page is here (and Tabletop itself can be watched on Geek and Sundry's Youtube channel).

So let's finish this up with the usual roundup of books:

Finished: Coyote, by Allen Steele

Coyote tells the story of a small group of colonists who land on a distant, livable planet (actually a moon of a gas giant), and try to make a go of starting a new life there.

This book kind of surprised me in a couple of different ways. Read more...Collapse )I put the book at three stars, but it's on the high end of three stars. If it told a more satisfying overall story, it might have made four

Finished: Limit of Vision, by Linda Nagata
Limit of Vision imagines a game-changing invention of artificial life forms, called LOVs because they're small enough that they exist at the Limit of Vision, tiny sparks of light that organize into neural networks, and where it's possible to implant them in a human to enhance their intelligence (and allow them collaborate and share emotions even more easily than ideas). (More behind cut: Short version, I quite liked this, it has flaws but I think it went undeservedly under-the-radar)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross (reread)
Freya is a human-form android... more specifically, a sexbot, designed to provide companionship to humanity. One problem? Humanity has been extinct for nearly a century before she woke up. For the sixty years since then, she and her siblings (constructed from the same model) have done what they can in a solar system where robots have replaced their masters. Read more...Collapse )Worth reading if you're a Heinlein fan, a Stross fan, like robots, or a good adventure, as long as you don't mind a lot of sex. I'll probably be picking up Neptune's Brood soon enough, which is set in the same universe.

Finished: The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks (reread)
Gurgeh lives in the Culture, a galaxy-spanning utopia, where lives are long and anybody can do almost anything they want, and almost nobody suffers from anything more than occasional boredom. He is a skilled and well-respected game expert. But the whole universe is not the Culture, and Gurgeh is manipulated into helping the Culture's "Special Circumstances" branch in dealing with another culture they've encountered, a violent and imperial group, with a curious twist. Their society is based around a complex game called Azad, to the extent that success in the game determines your posts in government, and whoever wins the regular Azad tournament becomes Emperor. (more behind the cut, and obviously if it's a reread I like it)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Troop, by Nick Cutter
A small troop of Boy Scouts and their leader are stranded on a deserted Canadian island, when a sick man with an unnatural hunger comes seeking help. But what he's got is infectious and will change what is supposed to be a wilderness adventure into a real struggle for survival against the natural world, and each other.

I received this book for free as part of a Goodreads giveaway, in exchange for an honest review. And that review is that I liked it. But I wanted to like it more.

The book is regularly described as Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later. As a description of plot, that's a decent label. As a description of quality? Well, it falls a little short.Read more...Collapse )I did like it... the plot's pretty good (although I think one boy's fate was a little too unbelievably over the top), and the book gets intense at time, and the "horror element" is genuinely creepy. I just wanted to like it more. There was a little something missing. Not enough that it should stop people from reading it, but in a field saturated with books that tread on this territory (the 'not quite zombies but a plague that has similarity with them' territory), it doesn't stand far enough from the pack in terms of quality, and I suspect in a few years it'll wind up being considered just "yet another plague book."

Finished: Among Others, by Jo Walton
This is the story of a 15-year-old girl from Wales in 1979 who, after a series of events including the death of her twin sister, is sent to boarding school by the father she only recently met. There, she struggles with her wounded leg and making friends in a system she doesn't understand or care for, and indulging her love for science fiction books. Also, she sees faeries, does magic, and her mother's possibly an actual witch.

This is one of those books where you could almost read it as a completely conventional novel. Read more...Collapse ) But I liked it more than I expected to, and I might not have read it otherwise, so I can't really complain.

Finished: Great North Road, by Peter F. Hamilton
The North family largely consists of exact clones of their progenitor, and many are filthy rich thanks to their domination of the bio oil markets. When one of them is found murdered, the investigation is bound to get a lot of attention... but when it turns out they've been murdered by the same means as another prominent North was, decades earlier, along with all of his household, everybody starts freaking out. Because the lone survivor of the first murder, the one who was charged and convicted for the crime, insisted that an alien monster was responsible. No one believed her, until the monster apparently has come back. Now, while local police do their best to solve the murder their way, an expedition is launched to the planet of St. Libra, in search of a potential alien threat to humanity. Read more...Collapse )I was planning on giving it a two, but the ending kicking in was just enough to bump it up to three. Like I said, Hamilton's an author I like JUST enough to keep me buying his books, and he did the same thing here.

Finished: War & Space: Recent Combat, (short story collection)
A collection of stories all focusing on, surprisingly enough, war, and space. Usually both in the same story, although a few take place entirely on Earth and deal with those left behind, or those on the fringes of war, or the aftermath. Still, it's safe to say that this is a fairly well-titled analogy (the subtitle "Recent Combat" is a little iffy, considering it all takes place in the future, but why quibble?).

As an anthology, it's, by nature, a mixed bag. Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Living Dead 2 (short story collection)
Started: Voice of the Whirlwind, by Walter Jon Williams
 
 
 
Number 6
24 April 2014 @ 10:56 am
Happy Birthday to celisnebula today, and I'm sure I missed a couple. Sorry, I have been reading my flist but gotten out of the habit of checking the page that lists upcoming birthdays. I'll try to do better.

Also, a longer post incoming, brace yourselves.
 
 
 
Number 6
22 February 2014 @ 04:45 pm
Not much has been happening to me, in the middle of the winter blahs, made even blah-ier because of the Olympics. I'm doing my usual competitive "watch as little as possible of Olympic footage" (I'm still holding strong at 0 seconds, at least of actual footage... coverage I'm doing less well at!), and a lot of other shows are taking time off. I've also finished up watching Leverage, which I'd been getting into over the last several months. But now it's gone. Oh, Leverage, I'll miss you, Parker with your adorable awkwardness, Hardison with your age-of-the-geek, and Eliot with your improbably recognition of organizations (it's a very distinctive reference!). Plus random Doctor Who references (and other geek stuff).

Speaking of Doctor Who, I now apparently own a TARDIS hoodie. My stepmother went to the states and that was her gift for me. Which is nice of her, since I probably wouldn't have bought one myself.

Otherwise, TV's rather sucked with the exception of the return of the Walking Dead, and GoT is coming soon. So that's something to look forward to.

In movies, I watched Catching Fire, which I enjoyed, and it mostly kept to then novel, Ender's Game (don't worry, I got it through magic, rather than paying anything for it!), which aside from having a few all-too short scenes in the Battle Room really seemed to miss the point in a lot of ways. I was expecting some changes to make it a movie, but most of them were awful. It was okay, but if they're going to make a movie of that in the first place the least they could have done is a better one! Anyway, there are other books by better and less-problematic authors to ruin with a movie adaptation! Also watched Thor 2, which was decently enjoyable. Guardians of the Galaxy also looks pretty good from the trailer recently released (though I'll have Hooked on a Feeling running through my head for a while), and it gives me a bit of a Farscape vibe, in a good way.

And upcoming movies also includes the Veronica Mars movie, which will be released worldwide not just in select theatres but in various on demand services to everyone, not just backers, on March 14th. That's pretty unusual. I'll be getting a free copy because of my Kickstarter contribution and won't be going to theatres due to my hermit tendencies and not liking to be around people.

We'll end up with Book Foo. I read the whole Newsflesh series by Mira Grant, spoilers for the first book should really be avoided, so, what I'll do is review the first book in order and then save the other two, which contain spoilers for the first, at the end (even though I've read a couple books since), so anyone who may be reading these that doesn't want those spoilers can just skip that. As usual all book reviews will only contain very minor spoilers, usually on the level of back of the book descriptions, and sometimes the feel of a book/ending which might be indirectly spoilery, but unless stated otherwise, that's it. And mostly the reviews are copy-and-pasted from Goodreads. (As to comments, I can't speak to the level of spoilers that may come there...)

Finished: Briarpatch, by Tim Pratt

Darrin's life's been going downhill since his girlfriend Bridget left him for no reason. Six month later, he sees her again... right as she jumps to her death off a bridge. Trying to make sense of this tragedy, Darrin begins to discover there's more gong on... not just in his life, but in his relationship and the whole world. There are pathways people can learn to see that lead to other worlds, fantastic, improbable, and occasionally dangerous. Some people call it the Briarpatch. And what happened to Bridget is wrapped up in it... as is, potentially, a chance to find her again.

I'm generally more of a science fiction guy than a fantasy, but when I do like fantasy, this is one of the types I like. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Feed, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 1)

It's been over 25 years since the zombies rose, and humanity has survived. So have the zombies. Large areas of the country are written off as unreclaimable due to zombie infestation. But the threat isn't just still out there... it's in every living person. When they die, they will rise, hungry for flesh and kick off a whole new apocalypse. But people can get used to almost anything, and, with stringent precautions and regular small-scale outbreaks, life goes on. Georgia and Shaun Mason, two orphans of the original Rising, were raised as adoptive brother and sister, and now medium-sized players in the new, post-Rising news media, largely dominated by independent bloggers. They, along with their technical expert nicknamed 'Buffy', have just been chosen for a great honor... to be the only bloggers on the campaign trail of leading young candidate Peter Ryman. But as they follow the campaign, tragedy begins to strike, and the group uncovers a conspiracy.

I'd heard good things about this series from others, and judging by this first book, I can see why. Read more...Collapse )Highly recommended for zombie fans, and maybe even if you're not.

Finished: vN: The First Machine Dynasty, by Madeline Ashby

Amy Peterson is a vN, an intelligent robotic life form that looks human, but isn't. They can't eat the same food, they are much stronger and faster, and, when they consume enough, they automatically reproduce. vN might be a terrifying plague, if not for one fact... they suffer extreme pain and even die if they even witness a human being hurt. It's a failsafe. Except, when Amy's grandmother appears, she's violent enough to kill a human child without remorse, and Amy has to eat her to save her mother. And then Amy realizes that she doesn't have a failsafe either, which means humanity wants to study or destroy her. And her evil grandmother is now living inside her head.

I instantly liked the book as I began. Read more...Collapse ) Flaws aside, I did really like it... it's probably on the low end of 4 stars, but it qualifies nonetheless, and I do want to see more, so I definitely plan to check out the sequel, iD.

Finished: Nexus, by Ramez Naam

It's 2040, and there's a new club drug making the rounds... it allows those who take it to share short-range telepathic experiences with other Nexus users. But it's not a chemical, it's nanotechnological. And technology can be hacked, improved on. That's what Kade Lane has been doing with some colleagues... he's found a way to make the Nexus effect permanently, and extend it, providing an interface to the human brain.

To the US government, such tinkering is highly illegal, because they're afraid of where the technology can go. But when they bust Lane, they offer him a deal... the charges against him and his friends can be reduced, if he helps them take down a Chinese scientist working in similar areas... with potentially much more catastrophic results. But things aren't so simple, and Kade must find his own path through a dangerous situation that could affect billions of lives. Read more...Collapse )I'll be rereading the book for the ideas, over the story or characters... but I'm sure I WILL be rereading it, because I really enjoyed it. I'll also be checking out the sequel, Crux.

Finished: Deception Well, by Linda Nagata
The city of Silk hangs in the sky 200 miles above the planet Deception Well, a planet full of biological complexity believed to be fatal to anybody who descends the space elevator. And yet the citizens of Silk can't got anywhere else, stranded there for generations.

Lot is the son of a charismatic prophet who went down to Deception Well, hoping to find communion there rather than death, and many of his followers still believe he's down there and will return. Lot doesn't know what he believes... but he does know that he has the same ability to influence minds and that something needs to be done.

This is set in the same universe as The Bohr Maker, although a significant amount of time later, and you can read it alone if you wish to, although it may help to understand a few of the concepts, and the ending has a little more resonance having read the earlier book. I also didn't like this as much as The Bohr Maker, so maybe it'd be a good idea to start there for that reason alone. Read more...Collapse ) I will be continuing to the next book in the series, Vast, eventually, which I've heard is much better.

Finished: Deadline, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 2)

Cut entirely for spoilers of previous book. Short version: Liked it a lot but not as much as the first.
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Blackout, by Mira Grant (Newsflesh, Book 3)

Cut entirely for spoilers of previous two books. Short version: Not as good as the previous two, but still worth reading.
Read more...Collapse )

Started: Coyote, by Allen Steele
Started: Limit of Vision, by Linda Nagata

And that's all!
 
 
 
Number 6
18 February 2014 @ 11:11 am
Happy Birthday angelophile!!!

Also, I know I've missed a bunch of other birthdays, and I'm sorry, but if you've had one and I didn't wish you one, well, know that I retroactively still wish you had a good one!
 
 
 
Number 6
31 December 2013 @ 04:36 pm
I don't really celebrate New Years (I expect to go to sleep at around 9-10pm), but it's not been the greatest of year and I'll be happy to see the end of it. Actually, it didn't start too bad, but especially this last month I got the feeling that some supernatural being had bet that 2013 was the year that I go on a killing spree, and then suddenly realized they were running out of time and so threw loads of annoying circumstances at me. But I know plenty have had it worse. Still, I beat you, hypothetical supernatural entity!

Anyway, a few last book foos to get through:

Finished: The Chronoliths, by Robert Charles Wilson (reread)

A large monument suddenly appears in Thailand, celebrating a military victory by someone named Kuin... a little over twenty years in the future. It's a curiosity, at first, considered by many an amusing hoax... until more start appearing, larger ones, with catastrophic results, in major cities. Soon, everyone believes a conqueror is coming who has the ability to manipulate time, and some start to support him without even knowing who he is, granting him more power in the future, a terrifying feedback loop that may spiral out of control. Scott Warden is not one of these supporters... he just happened to be one of the early witnesses to the first of the so-called Chronoliths, and suffered the breakdown of his family in part because of it. But he gets drawn into the mystery over the years, working with a scientist who is studying temporal phenomenon, who believes they may all be tied together by destiny. Scott doesn't believe this, he just wants to keep his family safe... but that's not so easy in the post-Chronolith world.

I read this when it first came out, and rated it, based on my memory, at 3/5 stars. Rereading it, I think I'm going to up it to four, although perhaps it's simply that I didn't have different expectations going in, and so could just enjoy the story for what it was. Read more...Collapse ) If you read one Robert Charles Wilson book, read Spin. But this is a good second choice.

Finished: The Bohr Maker, by Linda Naginata (reread, but I only read it once probably 15 years ago so I barely remembered it)

Nanotechnology has changed the world... many people live in space habitats, pollution on Earth is getting cleaned up and converted into edible food, and the rich not only live for centuries, but also can send copies of their consciousness out to tag along with other people and perform tasks. But all of that pales compared to what might be done, if the people in power weren't terrified of people straying too far from what they define as 'human', and cracking down on all but the most special, dedicated nanotechnological Makers. But there's one Maker out there, the Bohr Maker, that can give it's wielder the power to change the world, and themselves. Nikko Jiang-Tibayan is not defined as human, but rather an experiment with a mandated thirty year lifespan that is now almost up, and in a desperate bid, arranges to steal the last sample of the Bohr Maker... except, he doesn't actually receive it. Instead, it falls into the hands of Phousita, an ex-prostitute and among the poorest of the poor, living on the streets with a group of others in similar circumstances. She never asked for it, but the Bohr Maker makes her a target, and puts her on the world stage.

I read this book before. Once, probably more than fifteen years ago, shortly after it first came out. I remembered very little about it, aside from what the title referred to. I honestly can't even remember what my reaction was to it, if I liked it or just thought it was okay, just that I obviously didn't like it enough to be memorable. And yet it sat on my shelf, and I'd see it every so often and think I'd give it another chance one day. I finally did, and I'm glad. Read more...Collapse )This is why I'm so reluctant to get rid of books, even ones I didn't strongly react to... sometimes I come back to one years later and get a lot more out of it.

Finished: 11/22/63, by Stephen King

Jake Epping is a high school English teacher, leading an ordinary, quiet life... until a friendly acquaintance named Al reveals an unbelievable secret. Inside Al's unassuming diner lies a portal to 1958, and only 1958. With it, you can change the past... if you're patient and determined. Al wants to undo one of the biggest historical events of the 20th century, the Kennedy assassination, believing that thousands or millions suffered unnecessarily as a result of the ripple effects. He's already tried, but he couldn't make it to 1963... he's dying. And so he enlists Jake to finish his work, find out if Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and, if he did, stop him before he can murder a president.

Read more...Collapse ) it's a very enjoyable book, full of action, tension, and human moments. As is often the case with King, the ending doesn't entirely live up to the rest of the story, but it's not as bad as some of his other works, and these days I almost give him a pass for it. The journey makes up for it.

Started: Briarpatch, by Tim Pratt
Started: Feed, by Mira Grant

So, that makes my complete booklist for 2013...

1. Gridlinked, by Neal Asher
Read more...Collapse )53. 11/22/63, by Stephen King

That's more than one a week, on average, thanks (and I use that term loosely) due to the winter storm that knocked out our power for 2 and a half days. If not for that, I would have made 50, for sure, might have made 51, 52 at a longshot. Although it's not the most I've read in a year, I know one year I got 59. Still, 53 is a respectable number.

19 rereads (one of which I barely remembered anything about when I started), 34 new books. 7 recieved for free through Goodreads, of which only two I liked enough that I'd have felt it worth it if I purchased them myself (Ancillary Justice and Backwards... Defining Diana gets an honorable mention but it wasn't quite there).

Happy New Year!
Tags:
 
 
 
Number 6
31 December 2013 @ 05:29 am
Happy Birthday, liabrown!!!!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
24 December 2013 @ 02:29 pm
Been without power in December for the last 60 hours. Just came back now. Everything in the freezer is ruined.

But at least hundreds of thousands of people in the city being without power for 2 days in icy winter temperatures, didn't constitute an emergency according to our illustrious mayor.

Merry Christmas to anyone that celebrates it.
 
 
 
Number 6
21 December 2013 @ 06:35 pm
I haven't posted anything substantive in a while. Just... meh. Nothing to say. Ever get the feeling you're the extra in a movie, and disappear the moment you're off-screen? And it's not even an exciting movie, it's like some romantic comedy or something, which is fine if you're center stage, but just disappointing if you're on of the extras.

Anyway. Christmas coming up. Done most of my shopping, because most of my shopping is gift cards. Yay for thoughtless presents! Not all of it is giftcards, though. And I bought a turkey for a needy family. Not directly, but at the grocery story they were having a 'donate a turkey' thing. The charity played dirty, though, they had kids run up to people who were in that area of the grocery store and ask if I wanted to buy a turkey for a needy family. A few of them were even dressed as turkeys. How could I say no to kids dressed as turkeys for charity? Totally not fair. But I don't mind.

Had a freaky scare with one of the cats. (cut cause perhaps TMI and disgusting details). Read more...Collapse ) But yeah, it was freaky for a while there.

TV... not much has been going on. Still watching SHIELD, although it's been a disappointment. Arrow's enjoyable. Enjoyed the Doctor Who 50th, for the most part... had a few issues, but mostly it made me smile.

I think the only new show to speak of since last time is Almost Human. Where we learn a lot about the future (minor spoiler ahoy). In the future... Read more...Collapse )

Many other examples of rather inconsistently-thought out advances in technology... but... I kid, mostly, rather than rant. I mean, these are all pretty ridiculous, but I find myself enjoying the show nonetheless.

Continuum, another show that depicts Cops in the future probably makes similar mistakes, but they're not as bad because we don't focus on that world 24/7 in every ep (since they time-travelled to modern-day Vancouver). I did catch up on S2 of that finally, and enjoyed it enough that I'll keep watching.

Walking Dead was... well, it had a good start, and then dropped the ball again with the Governor. The finale wasn't too bad, but we REALLY didn't need the two episodes before that. Still, zombies are a guilty pleasure so I'm not dropping it even if it gets really bad (and there are plenty of ridiculous bits there too).

I've also caught up a bit on watching movies that I've been overdue for. Dredd was actually rather fun. Total Recall had nice visuals but was pretty dumb. Man of Steel, meh, dragged on an I didn't like the ending. Pacific Rim turned out to be a lot better than I thought it was, particularly for the genre. Dark Knight Rises overrated. Couple other that were okay but forgettable.

Finally, books... read a lot of them. In fact, as of this writing, I've completed my goal of 50 books in 2013. Still a chance I might get another 1 or 2 (I think I got a reasonable shot at 51, 52... maybe if the weather cooperates). But I usually write my reviews, and I have been slacking off, so, here we go, all in a rush at the end of the post, if you usually skip these, you can just stop reading here. As usual, I'm mostly copy/pasting from my Goodreads reviews... minor spoilers many be behind most cuts, but I don't think there's anything that would ruin a person's enjoyment... if there's anything major I'll try to single it out for a special warning.

Finished: The World's Best SF 4, (short story collection)

The Year's Best SF books are a reliable source for entertaining and thought-provoking short stories. This edition holds stories published in 1998.

Although you can always find something to enjoy, they're usually something of a mixed bag... Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Defining Diana, by Hayden Trenholm (received for free!)

Full disclosure, I received this book free through the Goodreads First Reads program.

2043, Calgary, Canada, Frank Steele leads a group of police officers who tackle the cases that are too big or too weird for anybody else. But when they discover the body of a young girl who doesn't exist in any of the usual databases, with apparently nothing wrong with her that might cause her death, they get a mystery that may connect with some of their other open cases... and have worldwide consequences. Read more...Collapse ) All in all, I'd recommend it to fans of police procedurals, or those who find the back-of-the-book blurb interesting on their own, but it's not the kind of book I'm liable to call a favorite myself. Certainly enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

Finished: Backwards, by Todd Mitchell (received for free!)

Full disclosure: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads program.

The story follows a disembodied spirit with no memory, who witnesses the suicide of a teenager named Dan, and finds himself drawn inside... only to wake up inside Dan's body and everything's fine. Soon he realizes that every day he lives through takes him one day further back in time, and through watching his host's actions, and the actions of his family, former friends, schoolmates, as well as the girl he seems obsessed with, the mysteries of the people around him gradually become unveiled and The Rider becomes convinced he has a purpose. He has to gain control of this body and change what happened, somehow.Read more...Collapse )I do think this is one of those teen novels that can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike (as long as those adults don't mind reading about the lives of teens).

Finished: The Star Fraction, by Ken Macleod

In the near future, the UK is divided into microstates, each with their own laws, and many independent groups vying for the future of humanity. Some are struggling to bring their vision of a communist revolution to fruition, while others fear that unregulated computer science may be bringing about the creation of an uncontrollable artificial intelligence that could threaten the world. There's also a possibility that it's already happened.

What can I say about this book? I really, really, wanted to like it. There were some great ideas, and, at times, I was engaged with the characters. But the world they inhabited didn't entirely ring true to me, and even when it did... I just didn't care about it. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Embassytown, by China Mieville
Avice Cho lives in Embassytown, a small human outpost on an alien world. She doesn't talk to the alien Hosts who are born to the world.. because they don't understand humans, except for specially trained Ambassadors. Because of a quirk of evolutionary history, the Hosts only perceive language that is spoken with two mouths, speaking different words, at the same time, with the same mind. As such, Ambassadors are specially-created clones, bred and trained from birth specifically to communicate with the Hosts, effectively being one person in two bodies. Avice isn't an Ambassador.. but she does occupy a special place in the Host's language, she's a living similie, something the Hosts compare things to. The Hosts' language is changing thanks to contact with humans, and that is changing them and their society. But when a new team of Ambassadors arrives, their use of the Language throws the world into turmoil. Short version of review: liked it, high quality, but I appreciated the quality more than I actually enjoyed it. Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Postsingular, by Rudy Rucker
In Postsingular, tiny machines devour the Earth and copy everybody they eat into a simulation... luckily, one of the machine's developers also created a backdoor, and with the help of his autisitc son, they're able to reverse the situation, restoring everybody.

Soon after, another set of tiny self-replicating machines are released, which don't devour, merely reproduce until they cover every inch of the Earth, sharing information with each other and the people they're on, changing society forever as everyone can instantly access information about virtually anything.

That's all in the first fifty pages. And after that, the story starts to get REALLY weird. Read more...Collapse ) If he hadn't included the Hibrane subplot, I probably would have given it four stars. As it is, three, but a high three.

Finished: Wormholes: A Novel, by Dennis Meredith (received for free!)
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free through Goodreads "First Reads" program.

Weird events have been happening all over the world, either matter is disappearing, or appearing, and often with disastrous results for those nearby. One scientist figures out what's happening (psst, the answer's in the title), and then works to harness this power.

I'm afraid I never really got into this book. The premise is an interesting one, from a distance, but, there are just too many issues with the plot. In short, it never felt real, which is especially a shame considering how it mostly tried to stick to an Earth-based plot with scientists investigating a new phenomenon, rather than explore the wilder frontiers of SF. (slightly more spoilery than usual)Read more...Collapse )

Finished: Hylozoic, by Rudy Rucker

Putting the description behind the cut too, because it kind of spoils Postsingular's ending. Short version: some decent ideas, and enjoyed it, but didn't like it as much as Postsingular.
Read more...Collapse )

Finished: He is Legend, (short story collection)

A collection of short stories honoring Richard Matheson, legend of horror, by some other famous and not-so-famous authors. Each story is either a sequel, prequel, alternate point of view, or otherwise inspired by something in Matheson's work.

Read more...Collapse )

Finished: A book that shall not be named that I got for free
I did not like this book, and I don't want to name it for fear the author might google himself and find my LJ (though he read my review and was polite about it)... and also I don't want to further bash it connected to the name. But since I'm not naming it, I will, here, completely spoil it and one of the big issues with it: Read more...Collapse )

Finished: The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

A teenage boy awakens without memory, having arrived in a location called the Glade, filled with other boys who were all in the same predicament, having arrived once a month, also remembering little more than their names. Thomas, like those before him, learns that the Glade is surrounded by a maze, filled every night with monsters. By day, everyone has jobs to keep their little community going... but the elite of the group, the Maze Runners, run out and try their best to solve the mystery of the shifting walls and look for a way out so they can go home and find out who they really are. But Thomas is different from the others, he develops a growing feeling that he's been there before, and a certainty that he must become a Maze Runner. And everything changes when, shortly after he arrives, for the first time, a girl arrives in the Glade.

It's a YA novel, and, as you might expect, marketed as being a good book for fans of The Hunger Games, so it's only natural to compare them. Well, it's not nearly as good as that, but it's a solidly enjoyable read.Read more...Collapse )

Otherwise, it's an appealing book, not great, but I enjoyed it, and I might check out the movie when it comes out next year. As for the sequels? Unlike The Hunger Games, I'm not immediately eager to track down the next book and see where it goes, but I'm at least curious enough that I might pick it up down the line, especially if I see it in a used bookstore for a decent price.

Finished: Pump Six and other stories, by Paulo Bacigalupi (Short story collection)
This is a series of short stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, best known for his novel The Windup Girl. Two of the stories are set in the world of that novel.

Short story collections are usually a mixed bag of quality, themes, and styles... but when they're all by one author, they can be less varied than even a collection centered around a theme, and certainly more than a "Best Of" collection. In this case, we have a set of stories that I'd describe as well-written, and individually, I might enjoy, but when you take the collection as a whole... it gets to be too one note.Read more...Collapse ) I just don't really connect to his characters and I'm starting to think that his writing in general may not work for me.

Finished: Outcasts of Heaven's Belt, by Joan D. Vinge
A starship arrives in the Heaven system, hoping to trade, only to discover that in their years of transit, the system has suffered a severe civil war... and now their own spaceship is a prize every faction feels they need in order to survive. Short version: Bit flat and dry, some interest for fans of Vernor Vinge's "Zones of Thought" universe. Read more...Collapse )

Started: The Chronoliths, by Robert Charles Wilson (reread)
Started: The Bohr Maker, by Linda Naginata (reread, but I only read it once probably 15 years ago so I barely remember it)

That's it until next post. Merry Christmas to all that celebrate it. I'll try to post before the New Year if only to post my complete reading list, but if not, Happy New Year too.
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Number 6
21 December 2013 @ 11:44 am
Happy Birthday legionfalcon!!
 
 
 
Number 6
14 December 2013 @ 07:52 pm
Happy Belated Birthday lyssachan!!

Probably missed some others. bareedy, I think, too, and probably others, sorry. This has been a bit of a distracting few weeks. Not really in a good way. :P

But I hope you did have a happy birthday, regardless of my lack of timely wishes!
 
 
 
Number 6
09 December 2013 @ 03:23 pm
Happy Birthday iamrman82!!!!
 
 
 
Number 6
28 September 2013 @ 08:02 pm
Happy Birthday argaud!!!!

And to anybody else who had a birthday in the past couple months that I may have missed, sorry, happy belated. :(.