January 12, 2020

Greenings Thirders

We come to you now during a time of great change.  Actually, it’s not but you act like it is, scurrying about as if one cycle is all that momentously different from the last or the next.  You can’t even coordinate as a species so you are all doing it at the same time.  And the cycles you pick have nothing special about them.  Sure, one or two of you pick a time when the axial tilt produces equidistant shadow, but that’s not that big of a deal.  The rest of you drape significance on basically nothing.  Which is, we must note, probably going to be your species epitaph.  A beacon will be placed amongst the rubble of your planet letting all who venture out this far, and we do not believe it will be many since you are pretty far off any path imaginable, know that you placed great meaning on nothing.

A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-18543-0, $25.99, 462 pgs.

This was an interesting one.  It involves species we are not familiar with but then you cannot know everyone.  The Teixcalaanli are a star spanning race expanding all the time.  Mahit Dzmare is a new ambassador to them, just arrived and hoping to keeMemory Called Empirep her people, directly in line to be expanded upon, out of the Teixcalaanli view.  And to help her, she has tech installed in her that allows her to carry the memories of the previous ambassador with her. More than memories actually, almost the entire experience of that person.  The problem is that the previous ambassador has been murdered, her tech seems to be not working, and the Teixcalaanli seem to be on the brink of civil war.  As little as she wants to become enmeshed in politics, she finds she has no choice as an attempt is made on her life and the pieces she has begun to piece together show that the previous ambassador was less than hands off.  Complicated and enthralling would be the two words that best describe this.  We loved it and would like to see more.  Well done.  Get you some now.

Tiamat’s Wrath, James S. A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-33287-3, $30.00, 534 pgs.

This is the ending.  We think.  It’s hard with your species.  You are good at beginning things but terrible at ending them. Even many of your endings are simply beginnings in a different direction.  That could be the case here.  We are not sure.  But, let’s take it at Tiamats Wrathface value, which we have to do with much of what you do.  We have read all of these, including this one.  We enjoyed them all.  This one included although there was more death in this one than one would have imagined.  Still, it is a species thing so we get it.  Once again the crew of the Rocinante find themselves in the middle of a mess.  But they are not together so acting more as sole agents.  Holden has been taken prisoner by the rogue Martians who are using protomolecule technology to build ships and modify themselves.  Naomi is bunkered down in a shipping container, running the resistance.  Alex is flying a resistance ship along with Bobbie, and Amos is on a mission to free Holden but has gone silent.  The galaxy appears to be going to hell and the proto molecule and the ones who fought it, appear to be still at war, with the humans caught in the middle.  As with all the others of these we enjoyed every minute we spent with it and there were not enough minutes.  Is this the end?  We do hope not although we can see where the end makes sense.  We loved the people, we loved the settings, we loved the very realistic representation of space travel.  Get your own copies and enjoy.

Abandoned, W. Michael Gear, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-1341-5, $7.99, 436pgs.

This is the second time we have journeyed to the planet Donovan to see what is going on.  Not us directly of course, but through the reports submitted by this Gear fellow.  Things have not gotten better.  The planet is still deadly to humans and the humans on itAbandoned are still fighting with each other as much as they are fighting the planet.  But that’s what greed and a planet full of resources will do to your species.  Never mind they have no way off the planet and that by continuing to not work together they decrease the chances that any of them will survive.  There’s money to be made and that drives almost everything.  Except for the quest for power which drives the rest.  There are some surprises, as you would expect on a planet that has not been fully explored and which pays for mistakes made in death.  We should also note that the end does not come with this entry so no doubt there will be more.  We liked it even if we find your species frustrating in its single-minded self-destruction.  It moves from start to finish with alacrity and suspense.

A Chain Across the Dawn, Drew Williams, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-18616-4, $18.99, 317 pgs.

This is another follow up effort.  It continues the story of Esa and Jane as they travel the stars looking for children with special abilities and trying to get to them before they are A Chain Across the Dawnkilled as freaks or taken for other, nefarious purposes, by other searchers.  And that is the case here as the duo run into a being that is also hunting and one that they barely escape from with their lives.  Thus, the chase is on with roles flipping as the chasers become the chased at times.  The ultimate price will be paid when all is said and done.  The chase moves from planet to asteroid to space station all the while Jane and Esa are trying to get a handle on how to defeat their pursuer and figure out exactly what it wants and why.  The answer could provide a resolution to The Pulse, that thing which has sapped all energy in the universe.  As with the above efforts, this is not a finale but an interlude.  We liked the first, we liked this one, we will probably like the next one but should not say so until we actually see it.  Run out now and find your own.  You can thank us later.

Once more you are here instead of there—there being a more productive place.  We leave you this time with words from the Urdanardabanga—Fflgth thgfl fflffl.  Good advice for all of us.  Heads up, the Haufmuff will be coming for a probing session in a few cycles and they are not known for their specificity.  Who knows what they will aim for.  Normally we would not pass such information along but we have taken the words of the Urdanardabanga to heart.  Fflffl indeed.  Time to go.  Us not you.  You could not go if you wanted to, having given up your space faring technology for better phone service.  If you are here next cycle we probably will be too.  Until that time arrives, eyes to the skies.


December 4, 2019

Greenings Thirders

We write to you using the best words.  Well, not really true, since the Zelnexctl have the best words and they refuse to let any other species use them.  We meant, of course, that we use words that you can understand.  While that does limit our ability to communicate, it is okay as we have been trained to work with species at the dim side of the continuum.  So, everything is good!!  We are excited this time around as we are going to be able to report on a number of very interesting works.  This is the kind of thing that scholars will repeat and dissect for generations if not for the entirety of the next solar cycle.  Do make a point of trying to be around for that to happen, yes?

The Stone in the Skull, Elizabeth Bear, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8014-2, $18.99, 383 pgs.

We liked this one.  We know we usually wait until the end to let you know this kind of thing but we thought you should know this right off.  This is the first of three, we think, although we have only two at hands.  It is a story of conquest and defense, of gender andstone in the skull sacrifice, of war and turmoil, of obligation and death.  Sounds like you, yes?  It involves a few princesses, a poet, a dead man, a mostly dead wizard, and a mechanical being, among many others.  If the above is not enough to make you run out and grab three or four copies then we do not know what will.  Oh, wait, maybe if we tell you that this is incredibly well put together and very, very engaging.  We’re not sure anything can actually be very, very but if it can it would be this.  We think this might be your past.  Unless it is your future.  It definitely is not your present, unless you are very good at hiding almost dead wizards and mechanical beings.  Get yourself one for the present. It is that time of year.

Knight, Timothy Zahn, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-2967-7, $24.99, 330 pgs.

This is a second entry in a story about a giant spaceship, which, by the way, we must point out, is a human thing.  No one builds giant spaceships.  Not efficient.  You build just to the job you expect and no more.  Think of spaceships like your underwater hero knightsandwiches.  Room is at a premium and while it might be nice to have a huge holo deck or four, it’s not efficient and wasteful.  But, besides that, and besides the fact that the builders and/or flyers of this giant ship are nowhere in sight, it’s a pretty good story.  We like the protagonist who, surprise, surprise, is an earthling girl.  She has spunk and is pretty good at getting things going.  There’s a mystery to what is going on and she’s figuring it out–with help and hindrance from the others on the ship.  We’re not sure about some of the other races mentioned since we have never met any of them, excepting you, of course.  We expect that there will be at least one more in this grouping to come out in the future.  We will read it.  We read this one.  We read the first one.  We have liked them so far.  Klaarg too. No robots.  Get yourself one for the holy day.  The story, not a robot.  There’s too many robots already.

Unfettered III, Shawn Speakman, Ed., Grim Oak, ISBN 978-1-944145-23-1, $30.00, 749 pgs.

We should note that all of the profit that comes from this goes to pay off medical debt incurred by artists.  Unlike many species that generously support their cultural artists (most really, except for the Buluurg who hate art) your species tends to treat them worstunfettered III than second class citizens, requiring them to struggle to survive because you somehow believe this makes their art better.  As if struggling instead of arting makes any kind of sense at all.  Anyway, this is a very big effort.  Not only in the end result but in the actualization.  There are 28 different pieces here, provided by some of your species best short pieces creators.  We could list names but what would be the point of that since it’s the content and not the content creator that is most important here.  Besides it is easy enough to find out on your own so that our listing 28 names seems to be next to the point, or on point or maybe just besides it.  We’re in the ballpark anyway. So, let us say the content is excellent stuff ranging all over the realms of the fantastic from high to low.  We liked it pretty much in total.  We expect you will as well.  And even if you don’t you should be reconciled that your action went toward a cause which should create additional content, some of which you might love.  It is, as you say, a no snooze, no lose proposition.

The Red Stained Wings, Elizabeth Bear, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8015-9, $27.99, 384 pgs.

This is the continuation of the first effort we told you about (see above) and it is as good as the first.  We thought it started off a bit slow, which we found oddly puzzling since that kind of cored stained wingsntinuity should not be an issue, even with second entries in three-parters, which are typically meandering.  We still liked all the characters and what they were doing, even though everyone was under siege so tied, more or less, to a single place.  We enjoyed the progression of both the situation and the ones involved.  We liked the twists as this is reflective of life (and Klaarg’s navigating although you did not hear that from us).  There is one more coming, or so we believe, and we will look for it.  We expect big things and so far our expectations have been surpassed.  If only we could say the same for you.  Highly recommended.  We give it four stars with none of them being blue dwarfs.

It seems that you have re-produced once more.  Something your species spends far too much time thinking about and doing to be for your own good.  In all cases you have wasted your time here instead of working to end hunger or at least make sure everyone’s got a cheeseburger.  Anyhow, as one of your philosophers was wont to say, nano, nano.  Words to live by for sure, even if you don’t.  Nano, nano indeed.  We’re off for the holidays as we’ve run the numbers and the odds of your creating a light in the sky for some other species to be guided by is fairly high.  If you somehow do not, we’ll be back.  Until then, eyes to the skies and fingers off the button.  Tis the season to be and even you should be able to succeed at that.


November 15, 2019

Greenings Thirders

We have recently been spending time studying your zombies.  We have watched them shuffle and moan and generally end up creating chaos wherever they happen to wander.  If the shortest distance between two points is a straight line a zombie will never take it.  We do wonder why they don’t just put down their phones and use the internet when they get where they are going as they are wasting everyone’s time with their current behaviors.  And another thing.  We have noted that while you use these devices of communication almost nonstop, that you are rarely actually communicating.  We have noted a great deal of what we would call parallel monologuing taking place.  While we are sure this is productive occasionally, we do wonder whether it’s all just one more reason why you have no idea what’s going on around you.

Inspection, Josh Malerman, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-5247-9699-0, $27.00, 387 pgs.

Intriguing is the word we would use for this one.  And interesting.  The premise is: would males advance better if they were raised in a society that not only had no feinspectionmale contact, but which had also had any mention of women or girls erased from it?  And, if you then challenged this group, both physically and mentally, could you expect great things from them?  But how would you build and then enforce such a thing?  And that’s the basic idea here.  We need to say that there are a few holes in the thinking process where logic seems to have taken a bender, but you can keep shoving that aspect to the back of your mind as you follow along. It will come bite you at the end but, hey, many positive things come with a sting.  The other thing we enjoyed about this is that it is not just laid out in front of you but presented as a reality that you join in with, so you discover as you go along.  This makes the journey much more interesting.  We liked it, except for maybe the ending which seemed a bit too constructed for us given the pieces that had already been played.

Fate Of The Fallen, Kel Kade, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-29379-4, $25.99, 352 pgs.

It is a rare story that begins with the death of the protagonist.  And yet that is what seems to happen here.  Ambushed, beheaded, and killed (not quite in that order) before the fate of the fallenjourney even begins.  And then found by his best friend who was coming to join but got there just a few minutes too late.  Of course, the protag is not really absent since his friend is tasked with bringing his head to the king who commanded the quest be done as proof of his death so revisions to the quest can be made.  And death may be too light a word since the protag seems to be communicating with his friend as they journey.  It’s still a strange device–and a misleading one to say the least given how these things are structured—reluctant hero and all that.  And it turns out the now dead protag is the absolute only one who can save the world, or land, or wherever this is taking place.  Even though there are powerful wizards apparently everywhere.  All that being written, we did enjoy the way it unfolded and the way the group that is going to undertake the hero’s journey comes together and, of course, this is just the beginning of the story and not the complete story so there’s a lot more to come.  But, as a beginning it’s pretty good.  We liked it.  You might too.

The Cruel Starts, John Birmingham, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-59331-4, $28.00, 412 pgs.

This takes place in a part of the universe that we are not familiar with.  It also involves a lot of other races that we are not familiar with either.  Except for the humans, but you put yourselves in everything as if the universe revolved around you instead of you being stuck out on the end of a fairly insignificant arm of an unremarkable spiral galaxy.  Anyway, this is about how five disparate people come together to work as a group inThe cruel stars order to thwart the second coming of a group of humans known as the Sturm.  See, even when you are fighting other aliens it turns out that they are you.  The Sturm are kind of like the Borg but just in terms of philosophy and without all the robot parts.  Only the Sturm are worth going on, evolutionarily speaking, and this means you either become a Sturm or they take you out.  Those who have no wish to be Sturm (the Sturm are not really a happy folk) and who also would prefer not to be taken out, must fight back.  Which is fine until you consider the size of the galaxy and even solar systems and how hard it actually is to get the right things to the right places at the right time for them to be useful.  If only for that, we really liked this book and Klaarg felt especially empathic towards that aspect, as well as the lack of robots, although they did have AI which somehow, he is not bothered by.  We like the whole thing.  You will too if you would like to know more about true interstellar combat and logistics.  We realize that does not make this sound like a page turner, but it is.  Find out for yourself.

A People’s Future of the United States, Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, Eds., One World, ISBN 978-0-525-50880-9, $17.00, 406 pgs.

Twenty-five individuals are gathered here, each with their own vision of what the future of the United States might be.  We should note that, being human, many of these visions peoples future of the USare depressing and dark for that seems the way of your species.  Not all, of course, for there are always a few who don’t get the program.  It is a delicate thing to write about a future that is one step ahead without falling into inadvertent parody.  Trust us on this one.  It is also hard to base your future on things that exist today but might be gone tomorrow.  Such is the nature of involving politics in, well, anything.  Consider these as thought exercises rather than thought out exercises and you will be fine.  You’ll enjoy if political extrapolation is your cup of tea and, if you are a coffee drinker, then not so much.  For us?  After spending this much time with you we are hitting the bourbon.

Meh, you have done it again, pissed away all that time reading this instead of trying to figure out the secret of chilly fusion.  And, as one of your famous cooking show persons said, “You should only butter one side.”  We’re not sure of the relevance of that but it seemed a deep and meaningful thought.  Onward and upward.  Us, not you, who seem perfectly happy in the mire you have created.  We’ll return.  Unless we don’t. No, we kid, we have a few time periods to go before we can announce success and vamoose.  Eyes to the skies, silly humans.


September 25, 2019

Greenings Thirders

The moon has a dark side.  And don’t we know it.  Having just dumped a lot of stuff there.  We hope the Chinese rover doesn’t have problems with any of it.  Everything should be fine once it hardens.  A few weeks in vacuum should take care of that.  It’s not our fault.  We had to.  Our interociter was acting up and we needed to take it to pieces to see if we could affect a repair.  Boy, if you have ever been pecto deep in an interociter you know what we are talking about.  The manual for that thing is minimal to say the least.  But we think we got it working again.  Just to be safe we are not going to linger here.

The Passengers, John Marrs, Berkley, ISBN 978-1-9848-0697-0, $26.00, 340 pgs.

This is a story of the near future.  Or maybe the near past.  It’s hard to say.  Anywho, it involves driver-less cars.  You have those right now, right?  It’s hard for us to tell as we are not as adept at identifying variant forms of ancient technology as we would hope to be.  And you just have too much of it.  But we speed ahead.  This is not so much about Passengersdriverless cars as it is about being trapped in one.  An individual has managed to hack the programming on a number of driverless vehicles which have passengers in them.  The are trapped and being moved, from different points, to a single, convergent, place.  At relatively high speed.  Need we even say that those inside these vehicles are less than happy about that.  Of course, they are even less so when the hacker starts whacking them off.  Audience to all of this is the group that had been gathered to make determinations around who was at fault regarding accidents involving driverless cars.  Now, they are being asked to make choices that have immediate and lethal consequences.  And to make it worse, the hacker is posting the whole thing live to the internet.  The interplay is between the two groups—the diverse decision-making group and the diverse set of passengers and the way that the hacker manipulates the entire situation using social media and the parsing of information.  We think it’s horrifying enough to be trapped in a vehicle that you have no control over and even more so to think that your most intimate failings are going to be put on your facebook.  We found the entire exercise interesting.  If you want to be terrified of getting into a driverless car then you should definitely pick this one up.  Klaarg reminds you that there are no good robots.

Sisters of the Fire, Kim Wilkins, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-17750-7, $27.00, 446 pgs.

This is the second entry in this series.  It continues what began in Daughters of the Storm and will continue at some point in the future.  It’s the same group as before.  A bunch of sisters, daughters of the king, all in various states and situations, physically and sisters of the firementally.  The central sister is once again Bluebell, the ferocious warrior who dutifully serves as heir to the kingdom.  Sister Rose has been cast out by her husband and is in exile with her aunt.  Sister Ash wanders the moors looking for dragons while sister Ivy now rules, somewhat badly, over a seaport.  Sister Willow is not quite right in her thinking and is making pacts with bad actors to get revenge.  All the sisters end up in the same place along with the dragon, a bunch of raiders, a niece with unusual powers (we kind of left this part out but it’s in there, along with the forest people), a bunch of unhappy villagers, and the king.  It’s an interesting story with a lot of moving parts that works very well.  We liked it and we look forward to the next offering as we are sure there will be more as this story is not yet complete.  Klaarg points out that there are no good robots involved.  We remind Klaarg that there are no robots involved at all.

An Informal History of the Hugos, Jo Walton, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7908-5, $31.99, 574 pgs.

This is a big un. And, unlike other histories that compile the works in question, this instead, collects writings about those things.  So, completely different.  Jo Walton, who wrote a series of posts for, looking at each year’s finalists and winners, from the beginning up to the year 2000, is opinionated and knowledgeable about the subject informal history of the hugosmatter.  Wait, she has not written since the beginning but has written about since the beginning.  And, we are happy to note, this is not done in an academic style which, we think, makes it something for everyone and not the occasional scholar.  Also, because of the nature of this, one post a year, it is possible to watch the change over time since this volume covers 47 years.  It’s a commentary that is as much about your changing and shifting culture as it is about the works themselves and the writers who have put them together.  And, to make the whole thing much better, it includes reactions and responses to the posts that were posted.  Often the posts are as interesting as the initial commentary.  To quote a friend of ours, “fascinating.”  One of the more fun things for us was to just see how many really good things there have been to read over this time period.  We greatly enjoyed this and will be citing it no doubt. You should too.  Enjoy, not cite, although feel free to do both.  Buy your own.  Or buy two.  Why not?  Klaarg has to warn you that there is more than one or two discussions involved robots, good and bad, within.  He’s right, although we’re not sure how he knows such things since he refuses to have anything to do with robots.

The Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9894-9, $15.99, 384 pgs.

This is a sequel to the first one which was called The Calculating Stars and is part of the Lady Astronaut series.  The lady astronauts do laundry, clean, and bake things they are fated skybest known for, all while having time for a career in space although some of this one is set on the moon and not in space, and not on the dark side, thank goodness.  This is one of your alternating histories, and it is indeed a bit depressing to think that women, who make up a bit more than half of your species, are still considered not the better half, even though the evidence is clearly there for all to see.  We’re just going to leave it at that since we don’t want to rile too many of you up as this leads to war, environmental pollution and the burning of forests, and there is far too much of all of that going on anyway.  We did enjoy this just like we enjoyed the first one and we believe you will enjoy this too, unless you are one of those who think that women are best seen and not heard, in which case you will hate it. Klaarg liked it too. You probably already know why.

Well, another period of time passes and you have once again spent it here instead of looking for that planet killer asteroid that is heading your way.  And, as the host of one of your numerous late night shows says of our work, “Can you believe they’re getting away with this?”  Hmmm, might be time to schedule that one for a probing.  No, we kid.  Probing was completed just 4 months into our 5 year mission when we realized we had all learned everything there was to know about your species.  We’re heading back to the dark side just in case that rover gets too close.  We’ll be back.  Or we’ll be on rover tv!  You can watch for us there, or just look up.  Eyes to the skies.


August 16, 2019

Greenings Thirders

We found planet ten.  It’s just inside the Oort cloud in a relatively stable orbit (we say relatively because there’s all kinds of stuff out here floating around and a lot of it gets sucked into ten’s gravity well.  Some of the stuff is fairly large and since ten has not much of an atmosphere—hydrogen, ammonia, martiniium—those things don’t do a lot of burning up on the way in.  Every once in a while something large comes around and gives ten a pretty good wallop adapting the orbit slightly.  Much like your politics where you kind of just cruise along and then, all of a sudden, wham, bam, all of a sudden, thank you clam (We’re still working on the meaning of that saying).  Anyhow, ten is out there getting regularly whacked (think of the Bambootzie family’s response to NAFTA) and it’s only inevitable that a future meeting is in the cards.  And we know that some of you will immediately argue that ten could just as well be struck from the other side and pushed deeper into space.  But, sorry, that’s not how celestial mechanics work. Everything falls towards the star in the center and not away from it.

Luna, Moon Rising, Ian McDonald, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9147-6, $29.99, 437 pgs.

This is the third time that we have visited this version of your moon and when we say we, we mean you, as in the pretend you, the one you wish to be and not the one who abandoned this process for cheaper peanut butter in 1974.  If you remember, the moon (and really, nearly every planet has a moon or more so it’s quite presumptuous of you to call yours, the moon), is divided among five families—five dragons—who control thlunae leading industrial companies. Instead of cooperating and surging ahead these five families choose to fight it out amongst themselves believing that they can wrest control and become the only winner.  This is a typical silly human belief and behavior.  But then, look at your planet.  This tale is all about manipulation, sabotage, left turns, betrayals, and family. It’s complicated with a large cast of characters who, at times, seem to be very similar.  We liked the whole story from beginning to end and we wonder at the logical conclusion that would be predicated by such behavior and maybe there is another tale in the offing to cover that, but that is neither here nor there.  Yet.  In the meantime there is this and the previous two which is plenty good enough to keep you going.  We recommend.  Highly.  Even Klaarg as there are no robots which is kind of ironic since you first went to your moon as robots.  Go get your own copy today.  But only after you have finished the first two.

The book of Magic, Gardner Dozois, Ed., Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-59378-9, $30.00, 553 pgs.

We got this because, well, we were hoping for a book of magic.  Many species, you know, consider technology that they don’t understand, magic. Your species for example, does book of magicnot understand much and look at all the things that you believe.  But we were sadly misled as this was not a book of magic but a book of magic tales.  There were 16 new ones and one from that Games fellow that has already made the rounds but you know you can’t do a thing of stories without mentioning him.  We have to admit that we liked most of these.  Not all mind you but most.  We’d tell you tale by tale but that would take more time than we have and we must finish our report on the demise of Alderaan 7 before the end of the cycle.  There are many forms of magic here. Nothing you can just snatch out and use yourself but perhaps enough cautionary mentions to keep you from even thinking that would be a good idea.  There were any number of wizards involved here and the types of situations they got themselves into are as diverse as they are.  Needless to say…  We liked this one as we could consume in small amounts and not have to try to remember where we were or who was doing what in order to continue. Klaarg liked it to because, well, magic and robots don’t mix evidently.  Get your own copy soon or be turned into a toad or toady or kissed by a prince or something.  No, wait, that’s a whole different group of things.  Just go out and get it.

Terran Tomorrow, Nancy Kress, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9035-6, $27.99, 334 pgs.

Another third offering and we hate to say it but it might be the weakest of the bunch.  The bunch that came before this one, not this bunch, although now that we say that out loud it turns out to be true.  Everyone is back on Earth again, albeit an Earth that is not in great shape, all fragmented, and partitioned off.  The crew that was on the alien planet terran tomorrowhave returned, with a spaceship that they really don’t know how to fly or use albeit they managed to get back to Earth with it (and we’d like to point out that this is actually more believable than you might think.  After all, how many of you know how what’s involved in making your automobiles work?  Few we think, and yet you get in and go anyway.)  28 years have passed on Earth since the diplomatic team has left although for them it’s only been a few, so Marianne Jenner returns to find her sons old men and personally impacted by all that has gone on and which she feels fairly responsible for.  The military is split and making use of what remaining equipment they can get their hands on.  Everything they use, once used up, is gone as there is no capability to make more.  So, things are pretty desperate and with humanity breaking down into tribes to fight for dominance it looks pretty dismal.  Welcome home we say.  This whole thing has been a bit of a downer.  And while it does most accurately reflect the way your society feeds on it’s on self-destruction, it is unusual in that typically your stories project a more optimistic view and happier end.  We liked it anyway and you probably will as well.  And, Klaarg wants to make sure you know, No Robots!!!

The Monster Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8074-6, $28.99, 458 pgs.

This is not a third but a second (maybe your species has become incapable of producing new things) and it feels that way.  Baru Cormorant is still on her quest to bring down the empire that destroyed monster baruher culture and life and is trying to do so from the inside out.  That being the case, and we, being smart, know it won’t happen in this effort, are left to just kind of join her in wandering around as she visits different places, creates and participates in any number of interpersonal conflicts that don’t really seem to move things forward, and does a lot of mental anguishing about her end game.  We do enjoy following her as she is an interesting person, but it is like following someone that you know is just taking a few days off before getting back to being productive.  We’re burning time, energy and effort and going nowhere.  So, we did like it but it’s also clearly a middle effort and we do wonder once the third comes out whether you could get away with just looking at the first and final.  If you enjoyed the first like we did you will no doubt enjoy this one as well.  And Klaarg would like you to raise tenstacles with him to celebrate a robot free effort this time around.  Go ahead.  Do it.  We need to keep our navigator happy.

Well, another month and another period of time that you spent here instead of taking care of your world ending problems.  Didn’t look at a single one.  That will no doubt be the footnote on the map that shows the space where your planet used to be.  We do suppose it is better than actively working towards your destruction.  Wait, that is what you were doing.  Never mind.  Oh well, as the head of your United Nations is wont to say after reading one of our efforts, “Why will no one listen to me?  Is it a language issue?”  It is, but not the way you think.  In the meantime, we are heading out to your star to watch some fusion.  We’ll be back.  We’re pretty sure.  Don’t go boom in the meantime, we still have a few cycles of study left before we can go home.  Until then, eyes to the skies.


June 8, 2019

Greenings Thirders

Your planet rotates.  No need to make a big deal of it.  They all do.  Some slower, some faster but it is sort of a constant.  And yet you act as if it never has and might never again.  You wildly react to each occasion of perihelion and aphelion as if you had something to do with it.  You don’t.  Granted if you stood on each other’s shoulders you would not only reach the moon but get about a fifth of the way to Mars (Go ahead and try it, we’ll wait) (That’s what we thought) and if you held hands with each other you would form a circle about as far from the moon as the moon is from the earth, but that does not make you significant.  It is not physics which determines a species worth but what that species does with physics.  So far you have made bouncy castles and set fire to large things in the desert.  Sure, you are on your way to filling your oceans with plastic, but this is not something you are trying to do so it does not count.

Persepolis Rising, James A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-33283-5, $28.00, 549 pgs.

Unfortunately, still no Baby Lon but we enjoyed it wildly anyway. And this is the biggest one as well.  It is thirty years after the last one.  Everyone is older.  By thirty years or so factoring in relativity.  The crew of the Rocinante are still wandering around the cosmoPersepoliss although it appears to be time for the captain and his first officer to call it quits and settle in.  And time to pass the torch on to others who will take up the call of righteous interference.  They choose to do this at Medina station, way port to the gates that will take you everywhere.  As Holden and Naomi prepare to depart a giant ship comes through one of the gates.  Built with protomolecule technology it attacks Medina and is soon in control.  Well, so much for taking time off.  This leads to multiple complications pretty much for everyone.   And then it’s downhill from there.  Or as downhill as you can get in space.  We continue to enjoy this most accurate representation of what it is like to be outside the gravity well.  We are looking forward to the next one as well and we think you should too.  But not until you have read this one.  Go get it now, you can thank us later.

Recluce Tales, L. E, Modesitt, Jr., Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8620-5, $15.99, 476 pgs.

Have you read all of the Recluce tales?  If you have not then this is for you.  More Tales.  Recluce TalesThere are twenty of them.  And they have been organized in chronological order so you can figure out where they slot into the whole shebang.  And these are genuine tales, not things cobbled together by strangers who just think they understand what is going on.  No indeed, these have been gathered or collected or constructed by the same person who did the originals.  So you know you are getting the prime, A#1 thing.  Really, what more can we say about this.  We have enjoyed the larger works but have run out of them, so this took care of our waiting time.  It should take care of yours as well.  Assuming you are a Recluce person.  If you are not, then it holds no meaning until you go out and get yourself properly oriented.  We should note that a couple have, indeed, appeared elsewhere but, for the most part, these are all original.

Semiois, Sue Burke, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9136-0, $18.99, 333 pgs.

This is about a bunch of fun guys or maybe mushrooms or possibly intelligent geraniums.  Any case it’s about this place called Pax, which is supposed to be the new Eden, if you consider Eden to consist of things that are working to remove life from your semiosisimmediate future.  Colonists from Earth bail out on their home planet because it’s been ruined or is being ruined or is just not a good place to be anymore and jump a ship to the promised land.  There, they set up a kind of socialist/communist collective but only if it were put together by peace loving hippies who did not really pay much attention to politics.  The colonists soon run into trouble with the plant life, which, it seems, has a mind of its own and can decide to either be your friend and feed you or provide you with poison fruits instead.  On top of all this there is evidence that a previous intelligent species occupied the planet and communicated with the plant life.  Finally, we have to admit that for a group of hippies living on a planet called Pax, they are pretty murderous and deceitful.  But that’s kind of a species quality and, we realize, probably hard to get rid of.  We enjoyed the premise of trying to communicate with a true alien life form although we don’t think this was explored as deeply as it could have been, based on our own experiences with the Plurd, a space faring race that you might consider petunias.  Still, we found it interesting and worth getting to the end of.  We figure you will as well.  Unless the thought that your zucchini might be plotting your demise disturbs you.

The Moons of Barsk, Lawrence M. Schoen, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9463-7, $26.99, 429 pgs.

This is the second offering.  Once again it takes place on the planet of Barsk, a place Moons of Barskwhere the sapient elephants have been quarantined.  So, this is really two stories, one from the outside revolving around how the elephants got quarantined in the first place instead of just killed off and what’s being done about it, and a story from the inside which covers things from more of a personal, cultural, and historical perspective, including the voice of a true outsider.  It’s convoluted and a bit troubling but also redemptive and a fine follow up to the first offering.  The characters involved are worth getting to know.  We enjoyed the entire thing, especially the way the story involved multiple viewpoints and perspectives.  We have to admit that we will look for more in the future as we got through this one so quickly.  Greatly recommended and no robots.

Well, another month and another period of time that you spent here instead of solving the cold fusion problem.  It’s all just a matter of temperature you know.  And who are we to complain as we are relegated to just watching your self-destruction.  Still, we suppose there are worse things you could have been doing—like solving the warm fusion problem.  And, as the head of your EPA said after reading the last one, “future?  What do I care about the future?  I won’t be there.”  Sadly, most of you won’t either.  In the meantime, we are off to take a look at the moon’s backside.  We’ll return.  We suppose.  We have so far.  Just don’t eat all the popcorn, we’re going to need something to munch on when the whole thing goes boom.  And, until then, eyes to the skies.

Twenn Tea

April 20, 2019

Greenings Thirders

Happy Eggster to all of you Earthers.  We don’t understand it, we can’t explain it and we promise not to share it with any of the truly superior species who are actively seeking to have you erased from the universe.  Frankly, what you do in your spare time is up to you so long as you promise not to proselytize.  In other words, keep your undead rabbits and their progeny on your own planet.  We do enjoy the eggs though.  We particularly enjoy the dark ones with the creamy centers as you can apparently get them year round, which kind of supports their religious significance.  We are not quite sure how eating the young of others became such a thing for your species but it is one of the few things that you all do with gusto.  One more reason to keep you from getting into space.

Babylon’s Ashes, James A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-33474-7, $27.00, 538 pgs.

Okay, we are not sure who this Baby Lon was or why the need arose to incinerate her (him?) as there is absolutely no mention of the baby anywhere in the entire text.  We are familiar with fore shadowing but this is ridiculous.  We will look for Baby Lon in future efforts.  But, for the nonce, we are made happy by the inclusion of most of the old, Babylonfamiliar crew, none of whom got incinerated although it is mentioned a few times.  Once again this is set around the actions of the Rocinante and her crew.  And, once again, the space-based behaviors are right on the head of the nail.  It is all very realistic.  And we love this stuff.  We enjoy watching the people interact and make decisions and take action.  We like the various things that are thrown at them and how they avoid most of them.  We enjoy the politics of it all and the way things are almost never quite as they seem even though it looks like they should be.  And you managed to destroy your own planet!  Fore shadowing indeed.  We like all of these.  A lot.  More than a lot.  Lots perhaps.  You will too. But only if you go out and buy some.  Don’t wait for the television.  Time to break the electronic chains and start to make decisions for yourself.  So, listen to us and get your copies today and you will find yourself enjoying it like we did.

Outpost, W. Michael Gear, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-1338-5, $7.99, 451 pgs.

This is book one of the Donovan series.  Donovan being a planet.  And before you ask, we don’t know where it is.  The universe is huge and we don’t know where all the planets are.  And this one in particular does not really sound worth knowing, what with its Outpostcarnivorous plant life, hostile indigenous species, and cataclysmic past.  Fun to read about sure, but fun to visit?  No thanks.  We’ll take Alderan III anytime.  Anyhow, this is about the planet Donovan and the settlers who were dropped off there to make a go of it for corporate profit.  Problem is, none of the supply ships that were supposed to drop off more equipment, more workers, and pick up ore and other goods ever arrived.  And the planet started taking it’s toll.  This led to the settlers becoming a bit more independent than the corporation would have liked. Of course they weren’t there so what was to be done?  At least until a supply ship finally does show up and then there’s anarchy to pay as the corporate crew tries to figure out what’s been going on and why the settlers are dressed so oddly and apparently no longer corporate minded.  So, the planet eats a few, there’s an armed insurrection, the crew of the corporate ship mutinies rather than jump back into the void which apparently ate the other ships, and chaos seems to play itself out.  Interesting stuff with some interesting people doing interesting things.  This is the first of the series. I believe someone pointed that out already.  We’d definitely look at more.  And if you like spaceships with bone temples then you will probably like it as well.

Revenger, Alastair Reynolds, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-55556-2, $14.99, 425 pgs.

Hey Orbit, why are you making us buy all of these?  We’d surely talk about more of them except the exchange rate kills us.  Do you know how many dollars you get for a quatloo?  You know where to find us.  Send us stuff.  So, Klaarg got this one because it had no robots in it and pirates.  It’s half of one and half of the other or six of many or whatever revengerthat saying is when it does not seem to matter which is what.  Anyway, Klaarg picked this one up and he raved about it as it had everything he loves best—no robots, females in charge, no robots, justice for the universe and a wicked twist that does not involve robots.  We read it mostly just to shut him up but he was right, this was fun.  It’s about two sisters who run away from home and jump a spaceship only to discover that they each have special abilities.  Unfortunately the ship they are on is boarded by pirates and not just any pirates but the terror of all pirates, who takes one of the sisters for her ability as the other one hides out and survives as almost all the crew is killed.  Thus the title, as the sister who hid dedicates herself to doing anything to track down the pirate who stole her sister and get her back.  Wicked fun and no robots.

Thin Air, Richard K. Morgan, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-49312-5, $28.00, 528 pgs.

If the name looks familiar it’s because this is the same person who wrote Altered Carbon, which you all read and then watched and loved like we did, right?  No?  What are you thin Airdoing with your remaining time?  Besides making bad choices in any number of arenas.  Anyway, this one is set on Mars and it’s a frontier Mars scrabbling to make a name for itself but also aware that it could die in a moment if the stream of support and supplies were cut off.  As you might imagine this leads to a fairly corrupt political system which just increases the dissatisfaction of the habitants.  The main guy, Hakan Veil, is an enforcer, a failed one at that although he still has much of the body enhancements he was given, and he’s willing to do whatever needs to be done so he can generate enough funds to keep alive.  On Mars that’s no mean feat as you would know yourself if you had read this like we had.  And why have you not?  Stop your self-destructive behaviors and go out and get a copy of this and read about someone else’s.  Who knows, perhaps it will be redemptive.  We like it a lot and we’re interested in seeing more.

So you’ve managed to piss away however long it took to read through this, a long time for some of you.  Not that we’re complaining, ad revenue and all you know, but seriously, you do have bigger fish to fry—at least so long as fish remain a thing.  And, as Aquaman is wont to say each time he reads this, “hey, use waterproof ink next time.”  We would be we hesitate to leave behind too much of a record.  Off we go to nudge a few black holes into new directions.  But we’ll return.  We always have.  Just make sure we have something to return to.   Eyes to the skies.