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.


March 10, 2019

Greenings Thirders

We see you continue to shoot all kinds of things into your low orbit.  You do know that low orbits aren’t really good for much as anything you put there just comes back to you, right?  Anyway, it’s getting quite crowded around your planet.  We project that in the next 50 years, assuming a modest pro-curve, that you will have surrounded your planet with so much stuff that you will no longer be able to get into orbit without hitting something.  But don’t worry, your climate will ensure that you aren’t able to do that.  Unless you are planning a mass adaption of your species.  Are you?  We would advise against it.  The species on Cicola 6 tried that and they may never escape the gore pits they all fell into.  But it’s your call.  Just give us a couple of days’ notice so we can stock up on YooHoo and burgers.

Nemesis Games, James A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-21758-3, $27.00, 532 pgs.

It grows again.  We like this story as it comes the closest to what an emerging species push into their own system is actually like.  Well, without all the intra-species killing.Nemesis Games You are pretty much the only one that hung onto that behavior once civilization was discovered.  This one continues to follow the crew of the Rocinante as they take some well-deserved personal time.  This is the crew of the Rocinante so you know their personal time is going to involve getting involved in some interesting problems and issues.  And these are spread across your system from the belt to Mars to Earth.  Things are falling apart of have already fallen apart and are trying to be rebuilt or totally dismantled, depending on which side you are on.  We liked it a lot.  We enjoy this adventure and can only hope that more get produced before you all off yourselves.  Highly recommended.  Go, buy, enjoy, repeat.

Legion, Brandon Sanderson, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-29779-2, $27.99, 352 pgs.

This is very interesting.  Stephen Leeds has something wrong with his mind.  To most he would appear to be schizophrenic, interacting with illusory stimulus that only he can Legionsee.  From his perspective however, these stimuli manifest as distinct individuals who are created when he focuses on a particular knowledge base.  So, from the outside he appears nuts but from his side he appears to be surrounded by distinct experts in multiple fields.  This makes him sought after as a detective who can solve the most complicated cases.  It also makes him want to spend his time by himself and out of the public eye.  And the entire time he is looking for a woman who is just like him, more or less, and who left rather abruptly.  We thoroughly enjoyed the way this was developed and presented and the cases that Leeds looks into are al pretty fascinating as well.  Very highly recommended.

The Stars now Unclaimed, Drew Williams, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-18611-9, $24.99, 447 pgs.

Something called The Pulse has gone out and basically destroyed varying levels of technology on each planet it touches.  Some it leaves alone, others it knocks back to the stone age and the rest are somewhere in the middle.  This thing is never explained but just accepted as having happened, otherwise the whole story kind of falls apart.  WhileThe Stars Now Unclaimed we know of nothing that operates this way—things tending to be purpose built to achieve a specific end, and a frying pan that sometimes burned your eggs to a crisp while other times leaving them totally uncooked is not much of a device—we must also say that we have not see everything there is to see.  We keep an open mind but only because we think this might be representative of something.  Anycase, Jane is an agent for the Justified, a group that is searching the galaxy for enhanced beings—who just happened to be enhanced by the same Pulse.  We are sure it slices and dices as well.  Jane visits a planet and finds a young girl and rescues her from the clutches of the Pax, a race that believes that the Pulse has ordained them to be galactic masters.  Then it’s a chase back to the Justified home space with Jane breaking all the rules along the way and leading the Pax straight to her base, which is something they are never supposed to do.  It gets worse from there although the ending is not as bleak as one might imagine.  We found this one to be okay.  Will you like it?  Hard for us to say.  Some of you will.  Some of you won’t.  We did like the interplay between the characters.

The Razor, J. Barton Mitchell, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8792-9, $26.99, 399 pgs.

This is about prison and the bad people who inhabit it.  The prison is set on a prison planet because at some point you have enough planets and don’t know what to do with them so you make a prison one.  Why they actually build the prison on the planet instead of just tossing prisoners out the door is kind of beyond us.  But here you are with a the Razorprison, actually a bunch of them, built on a prison planet.  Not only that but they planet they picked has an odd orbit which keeps pretty much one side to the sun (not really but just stick with us) and one side not to the sun.  This means that half the planet is boiling hot and the other half more than freezing cold.  There is a thin terminator where things are just right.  Why even be on this planet in the first place?  Well, there are minerals there.  But, what, you say, surely it is no economically viable to build prisons just to use prison labor to mine this stuff when there is a clear level of automation that could do it much cheaper.  Yeah, sure, but punishing people by sending them to a prison planet and making then work feels much better.  We are just surmising here on your behalf.  So, there’s a former guard who has been sent back as a prisoner, a doctor who is beholden to a nasty gang, and mysterious stuff occurring that puts everyone in danger.  Did we mention the unethical and highly dangerous biological experiments they were also doing on this planet?  No?  Our bad.

Okay, we found this interesting although the implausibility’s kept snagging in our eye stalks.  Maybe you can tolerate them more.  Hard to say.  We liked a couple of the characters.  But they were the evil ones so that may say more about us than anything else.

You return once again, like a moth to a flaming death.  Who are we to stop your repetitive destruction?  It’s like Brexit all over again.   To which a renowned British expert was heard to call out when posed this dilemma, “you want chips with that?”  Why, yes, yes we do, yes indeed.  And we’re taking them to the far side of the sun where your sister planet revolves in an entirely similar orbit although the planetary outcome is entirely different.  We’ll return. They’re not anywhere near as exciting as you are.  Eyes to the skies.


January 8, 2019

Greenings Thirders

It is good to finally be done with your Holy Days, although as we look at the calendar it does not seem that a week goes by without something that you celebrate by ceasing all work and progress, except for the negative stuff, that you manage to keep doing every second of every day.  We were out in the Oort again, just for the heck of it.  Lot’s of interesting stuff in the Oort.  You can tell a lot by the debris that surrounds a solar system you know.  Best of all the Oort is full of ammunition in case a planetary correction needs to be made.  We found any number of likely planet killer candidates.  But that’s a whole different discussion and most likely not needed since you are quickly turning your planet into an uninhabitable mess anyway.  Well, uninhabitable for you.  We’re sure many things will manage to survive.  And who knows, perhaps for the better in the long run.  Maybe some virus or sea slug will turn into a species that is not as self-destructive as you are.  It could happen.

Cibola Burn, James A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-21762-0, $27.00, 581 pgs.

This story just gets bigger and bigger.  It is like the expanding universe.  This big yesterday but this big today.  We still like this a lot.  It’s like letters from home.  Not that anyone sends letters anymore.  But that’s a whole different thing.  This time the crew ofcibola the Roci are sent through one of the newly opened gates to mediate a conflict between authorized settlers and independent settlers for the same planet. As if this were not enough there’s a rebel underground and the tiny bit of goo from the protomolecule that is on the Roci manages to communicate with million-year-old remnants on the planet.  Oh James Holden what have you gotten yourself into this time.  We liked it.  A lot.  A real lot.  We think this is the best stuff out there right now.  Klaarg agrees and has been trying to figure out how he can sign up for a tour.  Not to be missed or ignored.  Read them all.  Do it today.  Who knows, tomorrow they might make a tv show out of it.

The Furnace, Prentis Rollins, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9868-0, $19.99, 192 pgs.

This is a graphic novel, which is just another way of saying it’s a big comic book.  This is about a guy who gets involved in an experiment that ends up having a world changing furnaceimpact.  Basically, it assigns a shielded AI bot to a prisoner and the bot enshrouds the prisoner so that no one can see them (or be felt by them so far as we can tell).  This seems great and soon prisons are shut down and all prisoners have bots and all bots are run out of a single facility.  The problem is that prisoners tend to not last long under the bot.  None of this really matters except that it is the driving factor in a story that otherwise is pretty boring and mundane. Unless we missed something.  But between the text and the pictures you would think it would all be pretty clear.  We finished it, but, then, it was a big comic book so how hard could that really have been?  Can’t say we liked it.  Can’t say we understood it.  We did like the pretty pictures.  But the story needed to be assigned a prison bot.  We won’t comment that the title might be the most fitting place for this to end up.  Oh wait, we just did.  Bad us.

Welcome to Dystopia, Gordon Van Gelder, O/R books, ISBN 978-1-68219-126-2, $22.00, 406 pgs.

It’s quite possible that this book is the most fitting we have ever come across for your species.  The second title is, 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead.  What the title does not tell you, although you could certainly put it together for yourself, is that nothing good liesdystopia' ahead.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nuttin’.  The nice thing about this collection is that all of the stories are very short.  This means that if there is a dystopian future that you find personally insulting, it’s only a few pages until the next, and perhaps one which might warm your heart.  Contributors include a wide swath of names that should be familiar to all of you.  Kevin Anderson, Lisa Mason, Barry Malzberg, Madeleine Robins, Paul Witcover, Eileen Gunn, Ray Vukecevich, James Sallis, and the list goes on and on and on like the roll call of some vast suicide club penning their final dark thoughts before drawing the blade across the flesh.  We liked it as it met all of our expectations and thoughts about how things might end for you although we have to admit there were more than a few scenarios that even we had not anticipated.  Well done, albeit we are not sure you should try consuming it in one sitting.

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-24668-2, $15.99, 333 pgs.

This is the third offering in this grouping.  We enjoyed the first two very much and we enjoyed this one equally so.  It continues the story of the ship intelligence that ended up ancillaryin a human, kind of, and has been waging a vendetta against the pieces of the current ruler of the aggregate known as the Radch. Yes, pieces, as the person is literally at war with herself.  Needless to say this makes figuring out who’s side you are on very complex.  The former ship, now Breq, is on a station that has been cut off from known space due to the war.  The station is surrounded by potential enemies. To make matters worse the station is visited by an alien emissary of a powerful, if somewhat erratic race, the last emissary of which Breq killed.  And to make matters even more worse, a part of the fragmented ruler shows up.  Talk about trying to figure out which side of the bread is the butter on!  Into the mix are the AI’s who have been set free, the people who are pretending to be pieces of various AIs and beings who are extremely old trying to outmaneuver each other.  As we stated before all this, we enjoyed the machinations, as it were.  So will you no doubt, but only if you peruse it yourself.  Go.  Buy.  We’ll wait.

Here you are once again.  What can we say but wake up!  And remember, love is like oxygen, you get too much you get too high, not enough and you are going to die.  While you are pondering this let us remind you that an authority no less vast than the Washington Post had this to say after reading this: “Pinocchios!!!!”  We did some research into this and wooden you know it, he’s not even a real boy.  We’re back to the Oort for ice cream.  We’ll probably return.  Look to the skies.


December 16, 2018

Greenings Thirders

Holy Days, Holy Days, Holy Days.  We’re surrounded.  And more than slightly confused.  But much of what your species does confuses us.  Which is why we study your writing.  Typically, a species’ writing is a clue to its behavior and culture.  With humans, not so much.  Unless it is that you believe you are doomed to not survive tomorrow.  What kind of future is that to move towards?  We’re not sure as we are on new ground here.  But we have a couple of years left so we’ll just plod along and pretend we understand what you are up to.  Besides the planetary death wish thing, which is kind of evident to anyone who wanders anywhere close to your system.

Hollywood Dead, Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager, ISBN 978-0-06-247417-9, $26.99, 351 pgs.

I believe we have read all of these so far and we have enjoyed each and every tale of Sandman Slim.  This time, Slim is dead.  He’s been dead before but managed to survive.  And, we have to admit, he is surviving this time too, although his long-term prognosis is Holywood Deadgrim.  Slim has been brought back by a necromancer working for Wormwood, a group hoping to get world power but splintered into at least two sections fighting amongst themselves.  One piece wants Slim to off the other piece and, of course, the other piece is not that keen on being offed.  This leads to multiple dilemmas and situations that put Slim and his friends at risk.  Worst of all, Slim is under a pretty tight deadline.  (Oh yes we did.)  Will he win out?  Does he survive?  It’s a series, yeah?  We liked this one very much and we hope to get more.  You will like it too, but get your own copy, ours got a little too close to the strassnesk sauce and needs to be decontaminated.

Abaddon’s Gate, James A. Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-12907-7, $17.00, 539 pgs.

Hooya, this is another one that we just love.  This is so real to what it is like to be in space that one thinks it must have been written by those who have been there and not one of your own, dirt bound individuals.  We love this stuff.  This time it is all about a abaddons gategate sitting out at the end of your solar system.  The gate is a creation of the proto molecule (which we know nothing about so we think it might be a metaphor) and everyone has gone out to take a look—the Earth people, the Martian people, the belt people and the UN who are kind of the Earth people only different and we’ll leave that up to you to figure out.  Needless to say, you can’t put more than two humans together without getting a fist fight, fists being metaphors for any weapon of any sort, type or destructive ability.  You guys do like to blow each other up.  We enjoyed this one, even Klaarg since there are, apparently no robots in this universe.  Highly recommended.  Seriously.  Why are you not reading this right now?

The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7838-5, $24.99, 432 pgs.

This is maybe one of those imagined histories since it bears no relation to actual events.  This is about lady astronauts and your planet being hit by a big rock.  The big rock destroys a chunk of your United States but, more importantly, tosses enough stuff into your atmosphere (not that you’d really notice) that it is going to change the climate to thecalculating stars point where you will have a hard time surviving.  Well, not you but the ones in the book.  Actually, you too but for different reasons.  So, your space efforts are accelerated because it is decided that you can move to Mars.  Now, we’re pretty sure this was not greatly thought out since the resources needed to survive on Mars probably far outweighs the resources that you would need to stay and survive on your own planet.  But this is not about that.  This is about lady astronauts.  And, this is a lady astronaut novel which implies that there are more coming so maybe you are going to populate Venus as well.  It was interesting barring the few holes in the logic.  But that should not stop you. Or at least it has not so far.  You’ll probably like it.  We did enough so that we’ll pick up the next one.

Starless, Jacqueline Carey, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8682-3, $26.99, 587 pgs.

We have to admit that we grabbed this one for the title, thinking it has something to do with celestial navigation and Klaarg can always use some pointers with his driving.  But starlesswe were wrong.  Instead it is about gods, who were stars and who were cast down onto the planet (we don’t want to quibble, but someone needs to do some research on how many stars there actually are).  This is also the story of prophecy and about two individuals who are thrust together to fulfil it, along with a cast of characters that makes the journey even more interesting.  This is broken into three parts.  Part one is the training of the bodyguard.  Part two is the meeting between guard and guarded, and part three is the quest.  We have to admit that we enjoyed the entire thing.  It fairly buzzed right along.  Each section fit with the others and, we are pleased to say, there was an actual ending.  And a satisfying one at that.  If you are a previous fan, then you will be a current one as well.  If you are new, then you should stop fooling around and get a copy for your own.  We liked it a lot.  We highly recommend it.  And if you happen to have an extra copy of Celestial Navigating for Dummies, please let us know.

Here you are once again, wasting your valuable time.  While you were doing that we were in your Washington where your current commander in chief said after a quick read, “Great.  I’m really, really great”.  Enjoy your holy days before the comet comes and takes them all away.  If that doesn’t happen, we’ll be back.  Look to the skies.

Sics Tene

November 4, 2018

Greenings Thirders

We’re not sure why but this particular period of your calendar is just littered with religious observances.  There’s the holy day of the dead, the day of the dead, the day for the dead, the day with the dead, the day with a dead bird, the day when none work but the dead, the day where the dead go shopping, and the switch over period where you get rid of everything dead.  We’re not sure about this fascination with holydays.  It’s a uniquely human thing, go figure.  We particularly like the one where treats are free for the taking. We’re just not sure if you have to be dead to get them or dead to give them as we’ve seen it go both ways.

Only Human, Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18011-8, $28.00, 336 pgs.

We had to send Klaarg to the store for butter.  It’s not that we needed butter but this one happens to have, and be, mostly about, robots.  This is the third time that we have delved into this strange land where giant robots are first, put together, figured out, fight, travelonly human the stars, return, fight, and finally make a peaceful gesture.  It’s not quite that simple of course.  It never is when giant robots are involved.  In between the discovery and the peace there’s a lot of journeying and more than a little figuring out.  There’s also an entirely alien planet involved.  And a lot of discomfort on the part of the main people involved.  As well, your society manages to revert to a near barbaric state pretty much on it’s own.  And here’s the odd thing that we did not really notice until the second book.  There is no exposition here.  The entire story is told in dialogue, reports, diaries, and other forms of communication.  A fascinating device that does not get in the way of the story but makes the tale more unique for the process.  We recommend it.  But not to Klaarg.

Head On, John Scalzi, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8891-9, $25.99, 335 pgs.

Hmmm, this is about taking people’s heads off and using them as game balls, something humhead onans have been doing since the Inca used them for soccer.  It’s also about moving human presence into autoforms, or, as Klaarg likes to say: ROBOTS!!!   This is a bit of a mashup with bits and pieces jumbled together to make up a more or less coherent whole.  There’s also a lot of unusual words that are used so you have to get used to things being named differently.  At it’s heart it’s a detective story with future trappings.  Somewhat juvenile although we are sure that fans of previous work will fall all over this one.  We did get to the end and we found ourselves mildly satisfied so there is that.  We expected and wanted more but got what we got.

The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-101-88596-3, $27.00, 362 pgs.

This is the second offering of three.  We enjoyed the first although we are not big fans of Russian writing or Russian-type writing or writing in Russian.  We might be okay with girl in the towerwriting in Russia but have not tried it so cannot say with any certainty one way or the other.  This is a continuation of the first while, at the same time, being a set up for the third.  Once again it is winter in Russia. Perhaps it is always winter in Russia.  Hard for us to say.  Vasya, who has fled her village, shows up in Moscow, being chased by raiders while carrying a group of children to safety.  She is pretending to be a young man, which creates some moments of confusion for her brother, the priest, when she runs into him.  It creates more difficulty for her sister who is married to a man who is oddly absent for the entire story, but whom is a high ranking personage in the Moscow Prince’s court.  It creates even more confusion and consternation when it is found out that she is a woman pretending to be a man, even though as a woman disguised as a man she proves herself more formidable than many of the men around.  As last time, she has a horse that understands her, a snow guy who is kind of in a confused relationship with her, and a demon who just wants her gone, or married to him, he kind of goes back and forth.  That’s a lot of stuff going on and it’s an interesting read because of it.  If you read the first like we did then you will like this as we did.  If you have not read the first then you should before this one.  Recommended.
If Tomorrow Comes, Nancy Kress, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9032-5, $27.99, 334 pgs.

This is the second in this offering.  Seems like we are doing seconds this time around.  It’s a sequel as well as a prequel and continues the tale of the aliens who came for a cure and if tomorrow comeswith promises even though most of the promises were lies.  Your species tends to think this of the other.  Really, why would a more advanced species feel the need to lie to you?  Anycase, this one is set on the planet inhabited by the aliens who visited and the Earthers are in for a shock because, ba da bum, the aliens lied.  Pretty much about everything.  They live in a perfect society with regulated population, no unemployment, no poverty, no war, no bad stuff at all.  As soon as the Earthers land they decide they must go about fixing this.  At the same time the spore cloud is approaching and there is no cure and not much immunity.  To top it off the Russians have followed the Earthers to the planet, destroyed some stuff and then, apparently, just left, never to be seen again.  None of this will make sense unless you have fully encompassed the first one in this series.  Which you should because it is an interesting premise even if there are some holes here and there.  The writing almost makes you forget them though and so we end up thinking we should recommend this one.

Here you are once again, wasting your valuable time as if you don’t run away, covering your nether regions every time you hear that your Congress is launching a probe.  We’re off to Washington ourselves, hoping to pick out a fat turkey for the coming holiday.  But do not be concerned as we still have a few years left on our research project.   We’ll be back.  Keep your eyes peeled and your forks raised.