So, I guess life continues. Not much has changed for me personally, except for one piece that has gone firmly in the negative column: My job. Oh, it still exists, and objectively I can't complain compared to other people, but, they changed all the times around. So now instead of, on work days, waking up and going in early, then coming home and having the rest of the day (and not to mention hitting the grocery stores on the way home), I have one in the middle of the afternoon and the others are at night, which means having to go to work hangs over me the whole day, I usually can't do much grocery shopping on the way home, and, sometimes, I feel messed up the next day (whereas before sometimes I feel a bit messed up the day I work, but it's gone by the next day). And of course, it means any family events I have to schedule around, instead of being pretty much available any time anyone else is. Bleh. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to change much, due to everything from cost-cutting at the head office, our new mayor's parking laws, and some stupid sports games all colliding into a perfect storm.
I guess there is one other piece of mild news, I went to Wonderland for the first time in years (Canada's, not Alice's). My brother got me a season's pass for my birthday, and one for himself as well, so we went down to ride some of the roller coasters, and probably will go one or two times more during the summer (and possibly on some other trip with my dad, who separately got a pass with his wife, so he can take the step-grandkids). It was fun, especially the Leviathan, which had a huge drop. Adventures in Food
... still doing most of the cooking, and have gotten a bit more adventurous. I've done some baking experiments that have mostly turned out well... I've made peanut butter cookies a few times, and oatmeal peanut butter cookies once, and last week I did a cheesecake for the first time, including home-made graham cracker peanut butter crust (and topped with sliced fresh strawberries which were on sale the day I made it). The cheesecake wasn't as dense as I was hoping, I think I need more cheese in the mix, but I think the flavors were good. And I cooked ribs for the first time, which turned out awesome, fall off the bone tender (and, since I have a bag full of oatmeal from when I made the cookies, I tried something I read online and made a savory oatmeal side dish with onions and mushrooms that turned out really well and I'll probably be making again tonight). Not sure what I'll try next (that I haven't already done, I mean, tonight I'm making meatloaf).TV stuffs:
I'm not going to try to recap most of TV. I will say that the new shows for the networks are dull dull dull. A few looked like they might be kind of interesting, SF concepts, except they tagged on "And helps the police solve crimes!" at the end and I lost all my interest. I'll probably watch Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, and, perhaps surprisingly, I'm more excited about the latter (LoT has a lot of cast members I like, but I'm not sure how they're going to make it work and I think it's going to mess up some stuff I liked about Arrow and Flash).
I did watch a couple Binge-Watch shows. There's Netflix's Daredevil, which turned out to be pretty good. I mean, yeah, there were a few issues, but overall I liked it and the cast was well done (especially Foggy, who was perfect).
And I checked out Sony's Playstation-network-exclusive series Powers, based on the Bendis comic. There are... good parts and bad parts.( Read more...Collapse )
There are a couple SF Netflix or Cable Channel series starting soon (or already started) that I plan on checking out, though: Sense8, Dark Matters, Killjoys, and The Expanse (though that's probably not for a few months).
And since the last one is based on a book series, that segues us nicely into Book Foo.
First, a word about the Hugo awards: Bleh.
Bleh's a word, right? Yeah, many words have been written about it already, but I am not happy, the Puppies campaigns were, in my mind, cheating, even if they were technically allowed by the rules (last year, they were a little closer to the line of "I think the choices are despicable but they went about it fairly"). I almost feel like I wasted the money to get a Worldcon membership so I could nominate and vote because of this stupid campaign. *I* played fairly, reading and choosing stories that made ME passionate, but most of the categories get dominated by people gaming the system. I will mostly be voting No Award against the slate-nominated works, because it's the only way to discourage such tactics (although I'll try to give the nominees a fair chance to impress me as "independently worthy of winning one").
But on to the books I HAVE read since my last post. As usual, reviews taken from my goodreads account, and spoilers should be generally minor and limited to back-of-the-book type descriptions (or I'll try to warn if anything greater), but I can't promise.Finished: Recursion,
by Tony Ballantyne
Recursion interweaves three stories set at different time periods in the future. ( Read more...Collapse )
I'm willing to write off the problems as either a personal experience (I was reading them during the winter blues!) or the traditional first novel problems where authors hopefully improve, and I'm still interested in trying the second book in the series.Finished: Behemoth,
by Peter Watts (Rifters, #3)( Read more...Collapse )Finished: Light,
by M. John Harrison
Light tells three stories... a serial killer in the modern day and, in the far future, a woman bonded to a starship and a man who's addicted to virtual reality scenarios. They wander about doing a variety of things more or less on whims but there are connections between them that supposedly makes it all something more than a pointless exercise.
I'm being a little harsh on this book, and it's unfair, especially because I only have myself to blame. I have a rule of thumb... if a book is described as being "literary," either in the synopsis, the blurbs they put there, or even recommendations from people I know, I usually take this as a big black and red sign saying "This Book Is Not For You!" But once in a while I choose to ignore that sign. Occasionally, it works out. But mostly, it's like this case. ( Read more...Collapse )
I'm sure there will be plenty of fans of the sort of thing he does, but I am not one of them. Finished: The Hydrogen Sonata,
by Iain M. Banks
The Gzilt, a galactic civilization that was very nearly one of the founding members of the utopian Culture, is about to move on, to Sublime, to ascend, as an entire civilization, to another plane of existence, along with most of its population. But, as the days wind down before the big event, an ancient secret is discovered, and, fearing that it might cause some percentage of the population to have second thoughts about subliming, there's an attempt to cover it up, and other attempts to learn of it. One citizen is caught up in events because she once knew somebody who was alive when the events were unfolding, thousands of years earlier, a man who is still alive but in hiding. Meanwhile, members of the Culture learn about the secret and decide they should find out the truth, even if they're not sure whether it's a good idea to reveal that truth once they learn it. Wackiness ensues.
This is (sadly) the final book set in the Culture, the author himself having passed on. ( Read more...Collapse )
And perhaps that is a good legacy for Banks... he wrote stories that shouldn't have worked, and he made them work. It's almost like he's been performing a Hydrogen Sonata of his own, with one key difference... even thought it have might be clunky at times, it's been a pleasure to experience it.
And I'm sad as hell that the last note has been played. Finished: Collected Stories,
by Hannu Rajaniemi (short story collection, received for free)
I received an ebook of this book for free through NetGalley. I don't think it affected my review.
This collects short stories by Hannu Rajaniemi, perhaps best known for the hard SF post-singularity series that starts with The Quantum Thief. ( Read more...Collapse )
I actually would buy this collection with my own money... at least if it gets released in paperback. The original print run is a hardcover and apparently limited only to 2000 copies... and, aside from preferring the paperback format in general, I'd rather somebody else get to enjoy the stories than get a separate copy for my own later rereading.Finished: Perdido Street Station,
by China Mieville
Perdido Street Station tells of a city of humans, insect-headed women, cactus people, toad people, and more. One of them is Isaac, a scientist, involved in a secret cross-species relationship, and hired to restore flight to a bird-man who was punished by his people with the removal of his wings. In the course of this assignment, something is accidentally unleashed that threatens the entire city.
Obviously, this is a fantasy novel, with elements of steampunk (although I personally wouldn't consider it pure steampunk). And I should probably start out by saying that I'm not a big fan of either genre, in terms of novel-reading (movies or TV, fine, and I like the steampunk aesthetic, I just typically don't enjoy reading either genre). However, Mieville has impressed me with some of his other work that I've read, so I decided I'd stretch outside of my comfort zone and give it a try, since it is, perhaps, his most famous work.
I'm glad I did, because this really is something interesting.( Read more...Collapse )
Definitely worth a try, at least, even if you're like me, a science fiction reader who doesn't generally enjoy fantasy.Finished: Apex,
by Ramez Naam (Nexus #3, received for free)
I received an advanced review ebook of this for free through NetGalley. I don't think it affected my review. What may have affected the review was my enjoyment for the previous books, which is why I signed up to get the early look... I just couldn't wait until it came out in stores. ( Read more...Collapse )
I still have the ebook, but I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to buy a physical copy, so the series will look nice together on my shelves, and, if our technological civilization ever totally collapses, I can read by candlelight and imagine a world that might have been.Finished: A Song Called Youth,
by John Shirley
War is gripping the world, but that's not the real danger. The real danger is that it's being used by secretive powers to promote a new wave of racist fascism, where 'undesirables' can be accused of being enemy agents, terrorist sympathizers, or security risk, and systematically eliminated from power... and, eventually, just eliminated. However, there are forces working for freedom, the New Resistance, often struggling just to stay alive and to expose the villains for who they are. But it's harder than ever, especially in a world where, if you fall into enemy hands, their machines can extract every secret and even turn them to their side.
A Song Called Youth is actually a collection of three late-80s, early-90s cyberpunk novels: Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona, collected in an omnibus under a new title for the 21st century. ( Read more...Collapse )
I'm rating it three stars, which means "I liked it", while the truth is I'd probably describe it as "ok"... it gets the extra star because it's one of those rare books that I'm glad I read despite it being a slog, despite not enjoying it on a pure pleasure, because I think it has some important ideas that'll stick with me.Finished: The Lives of Tao,
by Wesley Chu
An alien race has been with humanity, guiding us, since the beginning. They can only survive inside bodies and provide advice and insight to the people they're bonded to, until that person dies and they must quickly find a new body. They've guided some of the most well-known people in history. And they're at war with each other, two factions, one who want to provoke humanity into war and conflict, and another who want to guide them to being better. Tao is on the latter side, but when his last partner dies on a mission, he's forced to find another quickly or die, and the only choice available is Roen Tan, an out-of-shape computer geek going nowhere in life. Not agent material, but Tao has to make the best of it and train him for the conflicts ahead.
I don't really have a lot to say about this book. I enjoyed it, but it felt a little on the lightweight side. ( Read more...Collapse )
it's the kind of middle-of-the-road SF book that is good enough that I can enjoy it, but not so good that I despair in my own ambitions because I'd never be able to write anything even close to as good... and that's an important niche in my reading life too. It's the kind of book where I'll probably decide to try the author again with another book if it had a good premise. And in this case, this is only the first book in a series (although you can read it as a stand-alone without problems), and I liked the world and premise and characters enough that I'm willing to commit to reading the next book in it, The Deaths of Tao, at least eventually... I'm not rushing out to buy it, but if I spot it on a book run and have some spare cash and space in my bookbag/order, I'll probably grab it.Finished: Capacity,
by Tony Ballantyne
In the future, humanity is watched over, arguably controlled by AIs, and only a small fraction of people live in what we think of as the "real" world... many citizens are digital copies, living in simulations of reality, albeit with a human lifespan. An agent of the government rescues one of these digital copies from an illegal simulation used for torture fantasies, and the two go on a quest to find the creator of the sim and bring him to justice. And in deep space, a human is sent to investigate a planet where super-intelligent AIs seem to be effectively killing themselves by reducing themselves to below human intelligence.
This is set in the same world as Recursion, although it's hard to call it a sequel, as really the only character in common seems to be the Watcher, an AI that guides humanity. I liked Recursion, although it had flaws. This one... I'm a lot more mixed on. ( Read more...Collapse )
I rated it a three, but it's on the edge between two and three. I was hoping to like it more. There is a third book in the series/universe, and, right now, I'm not sure I'll follow through to it. Maybe if I'm browsing a used bookstore and see it I might try it, but I don't have a drive to seek it out.Finished: Untaken,
by J.E. Anckorn (ebook received for free)
Aliens ships appear in the sky, and, at first do nothing but wait, leading people to wonder what their goal is. But suddenly, they strike, and soon most of the population is gone, killed or taken up in one of their ships, which might amount to the same thing. Two teenagers are among those left behind, though, and they must struggle to survive and take care of a young child who was also left behind.
I was able to read this book free through NetGalley. It had a premise just intriguing enough to request it... it is, of course, a YA book, and while I enjoy these kinds of books when they've got a good plot, I've not yet read a YA alien invasion story, which is a staple of SF in general. (short version: enjoyed it a lot until a certain thing happened, tiny bit spoilery)( Read more...Collapse )
As it is, I think I have to stick with my overall rating of a two, and maybe guess that, were I a YA, I'd have bumped it up to a three at least.Finished: City of Savages,
by Lee Kelly
In the future, all of New York City is a POW camp, although most of the survivors cluster near Central Park. Two sisters, Skye and Phee, are among the minority who spend only the cold months there, because their mother doesn't like to be under the rule of the camp leader, Rolladin any more than she has to. As the time comes to move back, the sisters share a special bond as they discover their mother's hidden journal, which dates back to the start of the war, a time she never talks about it, and secretly begin to read it. But also, forces from outside the city make a startling appearance that threatens Rolladin's power. Both of these events will cause the sisters to question everything they thought they knew about the city, their family, and world.
City of Savages is a YA book, but the premise really drew me. I mean, look at the first few words of my summary... all of New York City as a POW camp. It's immediately interesting. And the author does a good job of bringing you into that world right away. ( Read more...Collapse )
I'll stick with 3 stars as my official rating. I'd still recommend it to teenagers who like adventure stories along the lines of the Hunger Games (but different).Finished: Galactic North,
by Alastair Reynolds
Galactic North is a series of short stories all set in the author's Revelation Space universe, spanning a time period from less than two hundred years in the future, to thousands and thousands of years beyond (and arranged in roughly chronological order). ( Read more...Collapse )
To somebody who isn't familiar at all with the universe, I don't know how well these will land, but I think they're pretty accessible (to somebody who enjoys space opera with a lot of hard SF elements). If you're a fan of the novels, though (regardless of your thoughts on the ending) it's absolutely worth picking up.Currently Reading (or finished but haven't put up reviews): Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,
by Judd Trichter, The Blondes
by Emily Schultz (received for free), The Three-Body Problem
by Cixin Liu, Shelter
by Susan Palwick, River of Gods
by Ian McDonald.
I'm considering reviving my Unreachable Star site, that I used to do comic reviews on, and remaking it as a general SF review site, since I'm doing these book reviews anyway. Even if they're just mirroring my Goodreads reviews, at the very least, it might get me more free review copies of upcoming SF novels. Anyway, not today, I'm lazy.
Hope everything's been good with y'all.