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 the 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 not 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 have 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 her 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.