Phor Tein

July 20, 2018

Greenings Thirders

We know that you believe you are the center of everything and that we often point out how wrong this is. However, this may be true for one upcoming event.  You see, you are on a path that a number of other species has already trod.  And, sad to say, none have survived it.  Now, granted, you have gotten to where you are much quicker than any of those previous species so who knows.  But the odds are against you.  Your willful destruction of the very thing that sustains you is interesting only for the speed at which you are constantly accelerating that destruction.  Species that have taken this path before you, at this point in their evolution, were scrambling to try to reverse what they had done.  A number of them self destructed during this process, taking themselves out through a variety of methods—nuclear destruction, gravity bombs, solar pulse cannons and things you have not even imagined to date.   While we hope you manage to pull out of it (we have a lot of research time invested) we also have our bags packed and the saucer idling.

Bad Man, Dathan Auerback, Blumhouse, ISBN 978-0-385-54292-0, $26.95, 320 pgs.

Ben is in the grocery store with his three year old brother Eric.  Seconds later Eric is gone.  Like vanished.  Disappeared.  This, as you would imagine, is a life changing event for both of them.  Ben looks for Eric, and looks, and looks.  But Eric is not to be found.Bad Man  The event destroys the family and Ben ends up needing to get work and the only place he can find work is in the very grocery story where Eric vanished.  So, this story is about Ben working in a grocery store while continuing to search for Eric amidst the rather strange collection of people who also work in the store.  Unfortunately, this story meanders between the aisles bouncing from weird thing to weird thing but without any real cohesiveness.  We struggled to get to the end and now we are not sure why we did so.

Into the Fire, Elizabeth Moon, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-101-88734-9, $28.00, 462 pgs.

This is the continuation of the saga begun in Cold Welcome.  Some time has passed after Ky Vatta managed to get her people off the mystery base on the uninhabited continent.  into the fireBut things have not gotten better.  Her people have been split up, institutionalized, and Ky herself is under scrutiny as an illegal alien.  To make matters worse, all the documentation related to the previous episode has gone missing.  When the pieces all start to come together, Ky discovers that the conspiracy against her family is bigger and deeper than imagined and still operating.  She pulls together her friends and comrades and begins planning the best ways to get her people free, keep her family alive, and survive the experience.  We liked this although we are always concerned when everything revolves around a single character and they are capable of not only figuring it out but taking all the actions.  We knew Captain Kirk, and you, sir, are no Captain Kirk.  Still, it is an enjoyable journey from one end to the other.  Do you need to have all the information from the previous telling?  We would say yes to that.  We would also say yes to going out and getting yourself a copy of this one.

Jagannath, Karin Tidbeck, Vintage, ISBN 978-1-101-97397-4, $16.00, 161 pgs.

This is a collection of short stories by a Swedish author so one might be concerned about immigrant status and green cards as well as cultural references that slip right by.  We can speak to the last in a positive way and let you know that it will not be a problem.  There jagganathare thirteen stories in this collection and they are all unusual and interesting.  We would describe them but the problem with short stories is that in describing them you often give them away.  So we will not do that but we will do this.  Now that we have done that we can say that we think you should track this one down if you enjoy the short form of chronicling.  There is something here for everyone and while the Swedish to English transfer is fine, particularly as it is done by the author herself, there is an atmosphere left that lends an extra sense of odd to everything.  Buy it with Krona to take advantage of the favorable exchange rate.

Medusa Uploaded, Emily Devenport, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-16934-1, $15.99, 320 pgs.

Oooh, a deep space generation ship.  Deep space is actually redundant since you would not build a generation ship to run around your own system.  This one has a rather medusastratified society with disposable workers and an elite class, although even the elites throw each other out the airlock on occasion.  This is the story of Oichi, survivor of the other generation ship (the one that blew up, or was blown up) and the advantage she has thanks to her parents (okay this is one of the weak points but lets ignore it) and a Medusa unit which wraps around her as she is blown out an airlock.  Oichi survives to exact not only revenge but to be force of change on the last remaining ship.  And there’s a lot more going on: rebellion, betrayal, murder, assassination, mysteries to unfold, a place to come from that was most likely imaginary and a place to go which is like right there.  We’ve heard of generation ships and while we have never run across one of these (we understand the inbreeding gets things going downhill pretty quickly which leads to repairs not being made which leads to a generation ship becoming a cemetery ship, but that’s a whole different reality) we understand the concepts.  We enjoyed this one.  We liked it from beginning to end.  And it did end.  We think.  Go out and get copies for yourself and your friends.

Once more you have made bad choices and squandered your time here instead of solving world hunger (which is really not that hard to do, you just don’t want to).  As your most recent precedent says “Putin on the Ritz,” or maybe it was a Hilton.  It’s hard to follow.  We’re off to Mars.  We hear they need women.  We’d like to see what for.  But we’ll be back, and then some.  Watch the skies.

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Thurt Ene

June 25, 2018

Greenings Thirders

The cosmos says hello.  Well, not in so many words, but, yes.  You are all bits of the universe and while many would prefer that the universe find some way to just brush you off, like dog hair off a coat, perhaps into a convenient black hole, the fact remains that you belong.  We’ve been out in the Oort cloud, taking selfies, looking at comets, trying to figure out gravitational disturbance ratios and basically just eating popcorn and watching streaming video.   We did bring a pile of bathroom reading, some more useful than others, which we are going to share with you because, frankly, you need all the good advice you can get.  Not that you ever pay attention to any of it, but it makes us feel better for the giving.

Chariots of the Gods, Erich Von Daniken, Berkely, ISBN 978-0-451-49003-2, $24.00, 212 pgs.

We can ‘t do the little double period thing over the a when we are in space.  We just don’t have enough room for all the fonts in the universe.  So, just use your imaginations.  We know it’s hard but do it anyway.  It will be good practice for what is to come.  This is the original ground breaking classic.  We’re not sure what ground it broke and we are not chriotssure it is really a classic, but there it is anyway.  The basic idea is that aliens pushed humans to make all the monuments that they now wonder about, and it is this wonder that is supposed to feed the human search for alien life.  Talk about a circular loop.  There is supposed to be a giant spaceport in South America, an alien astronaut in a pyramid and more alien babies running around than you can shake a taser at.  This is all, according to the author, incontrovertible proof that aliens not only visited but directed and impregnated.  Look, we have had this discussion before.  You are not central to the universe.  You are at the end of a spiral arm in a galaxy that is not really near anything and that is not really visited by anyone.  And no one is all that interested about impregnating you.  Probing, sure, here and there, but that’s different.  Anyway, read this for the humor and the chuckles.  Unless you are a true believer in which case this book holds deep truths that you need to know.  Now!

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher, Roc, ISBN 978-0-451-46681-5, $9.99, 751 pgs.

Okay, let us harken back to the good old days that never existed as we journey with the aeronaut’s across the spire reaches.  Klaarg loves this stuff.  He tried, three times, to outfit the ship with sails.  Each time they burned up the first time we hit atmosphere at aerospeed.  We’re pretty sure he’s not done trying though.  There’s just something about a ship moving through the ether that tugs at the…well it tugs at something, otherwise we’d be talking about something else entirely.

We enjoyed this and, yes, it’s been around for a while, but we don’t get sent all the new stuff and occasionally have to actually buy our own material and when we do we go cheap.  Anyway, we figure there’s a lot of you out there as well who might be looking for a good piratical, steam punky kind of adventure series and this fits that description to a T or maybe a P.  Besides all that, we like the way Butcher presents his material.  We are pretty sure you will too.  Space pirates, Aargh.

The Omen Machine, Terry Goodkind, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-2772-7, $29.99, 525 pgs.

This is a Richard and Kahlan novel (and we promise to return it to them the next time we see them).  Events here take place right after the events chronicled in Confessor.  This means it is part of the Sword of Truth series although not directly linked and you do not omenhave to have read any of the previous or following to understand what is happening here.  The focusing event is prophecy and how much it controls or does not control one’s life.  Prophets seem to be appearing in the land, the people seem to be flocking to them, and, in the palace a machine which spits out prophecy is found and activated by mistake or chance.  Or maybe it was prophetic?

Richard and Kahlan need to figure out what is going on, why this sudden interest and dependence on prophecy and where the machine came from as it looks like the palace was actually built around it.  It’s an interesting set of problems for them to wrestle with.  And there is more going on as well.  We enjoyed this effort and we know, if you are a fan of the series that you will as well.  If you have not read any then this is not a bad place to start if you can not find your way to the beginning.

The Military Science of Star Wars, George Beahm, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-12474-6, $27.99, 318 pgs.

We worried that this was going to be some geek trying to explain why everything seen in Star Wars represented solid military science when the empire can’t hit the side of a barn militarywith the side of a barn.  Don’t they make their troops go through training?  Don’t those giant ships of theirs have computers?  They have sophisticated robots, don’t they have computers?  Why are they still firing weapons by having some schmuck (is that the right term) grab a trigger handle?  Anyway, that is not what is done here.  Instead the writer starts with current military tactics and training the way it should be done and uses them to critique the Star Wars efforts.  Most of the time the Star Wars efforts come out lacking.  But any 12 year old will tell you this.  We found the analysis quite enlightening and the reading well worth doing.  We enjoyed it all.  If you have any interest in military matters grounded in reality, then this is definitely the book for you.  The more we think about it the more we need to recommend it.

Silly humans, you have once more wasted your time here instead of solving your global warming issues.  In the words of one of your greatest minds “What, me worry?”  You really need to get better minds.  We’re heading to the sun to get rid of some contaminated plasma.  We’re not sure how the soy sauce got in there in the first place but it’s no good to us now.  We’ll return when we come back.


Tuh Welve

April 8, 2018

Greenings Thirders

The universe is big.  Your species, which believes it knows big, does not know the universe.  Because of this you think two disparate things at the same time.  The first is that the universe is empty because no one has come to crown humans as the kings of the universe.  Ergo, since this has not happened the universe must be empty.  The second is that humans are so important and so interesting that aliens are visiting here all the time.  You can’t have it both ways you know.  And, honestly, you are not that interesting.  We should know.  And you are not the kings of the cosmos, regardless of what you believe.  Ticks of the cosmos perhaps.  But that is another research paper altogether.

The Long Sunset, Jack McDevitt, Saga Press, 978-1-5344-1207-1, $27.99, 451 pgs.

Okay, perhaps there is one of you who understands the place of humans in the universe.  The Long Sunset deals with a vast universe that is just not that filled with sentient species.  Time has a lot to do with this. Intelligent species are not like turtles on the beach, all popping through the sand at the same time.  It comes, it goes, it rarely lasts.  Sometimes it goes in a nuclear flash, other times with the whimper of ecological long sunsetmisappropriation.  Perhaps this is what drives the crew of the Eiferman when they find not one but two races as they are out investigating the origin of a video signal.  One of these races is in the path of a black hole and the other, while they have the technology to assist in resettlement once a planet is reached does not have the means of transport.  This leaves that task to the humans who must return to Earth and convince an increasingly xenophobic political system that reaching out is the thing to do.  And not just reaching out but committing massive amounts of resources to build enough ships to make the movement of another planetary population possible.  This is a bit of a dark vision.  Fitting for the times for sure but something you should be aware of.  Of course there are many ins and outs to the above, but that is for your discovery and not our telling.  Take our word for it humans, you will enjoy this one.

Dayfall, Michael David Ares, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-06480-6, $24.99, 288 pgs.

This is one of your post apocalyptical depressing future visions. In this case you have so dayfallmanaged to mess up your world that you have covered the planet in dense clouds.  This has created year long periods of darkness for many parts of your world.  New York City is one of those places.  But an opening in the clouds is projected and the light is coming.  Of course, being human you create a crazed doomsday cult about the coming of the light, or, Dayfall.  But this is all just a back drop for this noir thriller which focuses on a fallen detective suddenly given another chance in a new city to make good as he works his way through the mystery put in his hands.  Of course he is expected to fail which is how he got the job in the first place.  And, in the darkness, much is not as it seems.  We will say no more as the joy is often in the discovery and not in the being told.  We liked it.  Klaarg especially enjoyed it but he likes dark things so long as they are not robotic.

Good Guys, Steven Brust, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9637-2, $25.99, 320 pgs.

We liked this one although we kind of hated the basic premise which devolved from the title.  This is about a group of mutants, or humans with special powers, who have beengood guys scooped up by a secret agency and then trained to use their powers more fully but in the service of said agency.  Thus the good guys theme.  Are they the good guys, doing work for this agency?  Or not.  This all comes to a head as they are assigned a case of finding out who is magically killing, in various and imaginative ways, bad guys.  So, if they are the good guys but they are hunting down someone who is killing bad buys does this remain true?  Eh, you humans like things in black and white, unless you are white and they are black in which case you are just confused.  Forgoing our dislike of the underlying existential discussion, we really enjoyed this one.  It is well documented and enjoyable.  Will you enjoy it?  Do you enjoy good things?  Need we say more?  Just remember, if you do not like it we are not bad for the recommendation. You make your own choices.  Get it anyway.

Leviathan’s Wake, James Corey, Orbit, ISBN 978-0-316-12908-4, $17.00, 582 pgs.

Klaarg picked this for our weekly reading group.  He liked that it was big in scope, fully and accurately captured human behavior, and had no robots.  In case you have been living in a cave, and many of you still do, this is not only a written text but a video presentation.  So those of you who do not read, and many of you don’t, can take our advice and just watch instead.  This is, essentially, you playing in your backyard.  We say playing but what we mean is being self destructive.  No one trusts anyone, Mars is at war with thleviathane Belt, which is at war internally, and with Mars, and Earth is at war with Mars and anyone who gets too close to Earth.  To top it off, a few humans have gotten their hands on an alien protomolecule. Now, the first thing we learned in space school was to leave the protomolecules alone.  They do bad things.  Pretty consistently they do bad things.  Of course this means that humans immediately grabbed on and started experimenting with it even though they had no idea of the consequences.  Yes, indeed, it sounds exactly like something you would do.  Almost all the other sentient species would give the bad little thing a boost into their sun.  But not you.  You immediately infect yourselves with it.  Into the middle of all of this is a small group of people who find themselves almost always in the middle of the things that happen.  It is through them that we learn much of what is going on. This is the first offering in a large group of offerings and, like we first stated, you can just watch the moving pictures if you want.  We liked it.  We liked it a lot.  We are planning on continuing.  And, yes, we know we are a bit late to the scene but it is impossible for us to stay current with everything you do.

Well, once again you have unwisely spent your time here instead of figuring out how to survive the coming ice age.  Or, as one of your human philosophers recently said “He did what?  Again?”  Seasons change and so does the oil in the plasma coupling.  We’re off to Mercury to take care of that.  We’ll be back.  The donuts are ours.  Leave them alone.


El, Even

March 21, 2018

Greenings Thirders

We just had our 15th article, based on our research here, published: “Aluminium salts and the transmigration of the human diaspora during the acid rain years.”  So far it’s a big hit in interstellar research circles.  Probably because of all the funny pictures of your species we included.  A lot of them were clowns.  You, so far, are the only species that has produced such a thing.  And not only produced it but made it such a cornerstone of your cultures.  There is the motley fool, the birthday visitor, the evil clown, the circus invader, the sad one that has to sweep up after the elephants, and a host of others.  You have even gone so far as to elect one to high office.  That might be the subject of our next paper: “Making Andromeda Great Again; orange hair and the clowning down of a species.”  Stay tuned.

Children of the Fleet, Orson Scott Card, Tor, 978-0-7653-7704-3, $25.99, 304 pgs.

This takes place in the universe of Ender’s Game.  We’re not that familiar with that universe, but then, we’ve been stuck here with you on the backwards end of a spiral arm so may not be up on all of our universes.  The war is long over and Ender long childrengone but Fleet School still remains and Dabeet Ochoa finds himself there.  Not so much because it is where he wants to be but because he has been maneuvered and manipulated.  Just like old times.  Dabeet is not well accepted and struggles to understand all that is happening.  But when Fleet School is invaded he manages to be the one the others depend on to plan resistance. We liked it. You will like it too assuming you enjoy little kids who are way smarter than you rather than seeing them as pestilence that should be eradicated.  If you liked the series you will enjoy this.  If you liked the beginning of the first series but then thought it wandered, well this one kind of wanders back.  Go get a copy for yourself.

Valiant Dust, Richard Baker, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9072-1, $25.99, 349 pgs.

This is Breaker of Empires book 1.  So.  This is a kind of personal diary, a travelogue of one Sikander Singh North who is from a colonial planet but serving as a gunnery officer valianton the Hector, a CSS ship (the civilized folk).  This means that Sikander has both a lot to learn and a lot to prove.  And we get to follow along as both of those things happen.  Lucky for us the Hector ends up right in the middle of things so we get to actually watch stuff happen and not just laundry or night watches on the empty bridge.  We don’t know why folks don’t just automate more of the functions on their ships as AIs and expert systems are much more efficient than non-electronic beings.  Maybe it’s just control issues although you would be surprised at what is happening behind the scenes in your toaster.  Anyway this was interesting and since it is book 1 we imagine there will be more.  If you enjoy space navy stuff then you will most likely enjoy this.

A Plague of Giants, Kevin Hearne, Del Rey ISBN 978-0-345-54860-3, $28.99, 620 pgs.

We were not sure about this one at first.  It is the story of an invasion.  By Giants.  But you may have figured that out already.  This is told mostly through a third party, a bard who has the ability to actually become the person telling the story.  Of course the bardplague can only tell the story of that person in terms of what the bard knows so that while it may appear to be the person telling the tale it is told through the bard which creates a kind of odd structure to what you know, what you think you know, what you are told you know and what you are told.  We’re fine with this as it was done very well and we can often hold multiple viewpoints at the same time, something you Earthers seem incapable of.  We liked being able to see things from differing perspectives and if they did not all line up well things are always recorded with bias anyway.  Overall we liked it.  However, as also seems to be your wont, this is book one which means there should be a book two and we’ve shared, already, our philosophy about books two.  Go out and get a copy of this.  You will enjoy it.  Maybe not so much if you really like giants but you probably already figured that out.

Tomorrow’s Kin, Nancy Kress, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9030-1, $20.99, 367 pgs.

We like Nancy and the things she reports.   Given this we scurried out to get us a copy of this new segment.  This is the first of a trilogy by the way.  We see a theme in the making.  tomorrowIt’s about aliens who come to visit you humans in New York.  Strangely they appear human like.  Okay, we thought, here is the funny hook.  We are about to learn that humans are not really special but just a mistake made by a visiting species millennia ago.  But no, we were the ones surprised as your human centric view of everything once more complicated the issues.  Turns out that the aliens are actually spawn of humans.  Go figure.  Humans have populated the universe after all.  Gosh, we don’t think so.  You are just an insignificant dot on a sub par planet at the end of a spiral arm of a galaxy that is nothing special.   But we know you think differently.  Sheesh.  Get this to find out for yourself how special you really are.  We still liked it but we gritted our cups frequently.  It’s enough to make you want to slip back into the pool and give yourself to the forthcoming generation.

Well, you have done it again.  Wasted your time here instead of resolving the final unified field equations, or, as one of your human leaders most recently said “Didn’t see that coming.”  The planet turns and things cycle.  We are off again.  But we will return.  There is a huge probing event coming up that we are supposed to moderate.  Keep the lights on.  Makes you easier to find.


Tenn

February 23, 2018

Greenings Thirders

We were returning from the Oort cloud and as we drifted past the orbit of Mars, Klaarg called us to come look at the car in our way.  Now, Klaarg sometimes spends way too much time at the back end of the ram scoop so we are used to his seeing the odd thing here or there.  But, true enough, when we got to the viewing area, there was a car, with a spaceman driving.  While it is true that in space no one can hear you spin the wheels (this is because of the lack of friction), it is also true that space will have a bigger negative impact on your wheels than road salt.  Just like no one wants to buy a sports car that has been driven in a snowy climate, no one will want to buy a car that was driven in space.  Ah well, at least there is plenty of parking up here.  We ended up giving the thing a wide berth because who knows how this spaceman got his car into space in the first place and we just had the ship detailed.

Thunderbird, Jack McDevitt, Ace,  ISBN 978-0-425-27919-9 $26.95, 369 pgs.

We liked this one.  It’s about native peoples.  You know, the ones you try to kill off first thing when you get to a new place.  When we say you, we mean you, not the global you, but the Earthling you.  Any case, these native peoples have discovered an artifact thThunderbirdat allows travel between places.  They are unclear where, exactly, these places are, other than that one is in space, one is on a different planet and one seems to be just outside a city and there are a lot more.  All of them are, evidently, inhabited.  This creates a number of problems, not the least of which is a demand for the artifact to be used to cull resources from these places (apparently regardless of the beings who may already be there), but that’s just you all over again.  There are, of course, any number of issues that could come up in a situation like this and many of them are brought to the fore, both the positive and the negative.  And, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference for what is positive now may be negative tomorrow.  The resolution is a somewhat unique one.  Like we said at the beginning, we liked this.  You will no doubt like it as well.

Kill All Angels, Robert Brockway, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7970-2, $29.99, 315 pgs.

This is the third entry in the Vicious Circuit series.  We think it is the weakest of the three which we find a bit disturbing.  It is almost like Brockway ran out of good stuff and just Kill all angelsneeded to stumble to the end.  Then we remembered that he also wrote for Cracked which is not really known for its lengthy pieces.  We actually were a bit of a ways in before we even realized what series this one was connected to.  This is too bad because we enjoyed the first two.  We did.  You can go look.  Go ahead.  We’ll wait. We’ve got things to do anyway.  Okay now that you are back, and what, did you stop for pizza or something?  We do that some times and it always causes friction because Klaarg likes strange things on his pie.  In any case, the characters are all together again unless you consider their destructive self behavior to be not so much together.  One is a drunk, another is probably crazy, a third is an Empty One, and the rest are hanging on by their fingernails.  The other thing missing from this volume is humor.  It’s supposed to be funny but it’s really not so much.  We got through to the end.  You might be able to as well.

Waking Gods, Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey ISBN 978-1-101-88674-8, $16.00, 336 pgs.

We talkwaking godsed about this one a few cycles ago but for those of you too cheap to buy a longer lasting version, it is now out in a more self destructible form.  We liked this one a lot.  Klaarg hated it.  But then it has giant robots and if there is one kind of robots that Klaarg hates most, it is giant ones.  Sure he really hates Roombas but for entirely different reasons.  If you have not gone out and found this yet now is the best of times.

Sci-Fi, A Movie Top Score Game, Lawrence King Publishing ISBN 978-1-78627-123-5, $9.99

With illustrations by Giordano Poloni, text by Aidan Onn and design by Elsa Benoldi, this scificard game is simple to play and can provide some amusement (and maybe a little argument) for those who consider themselves movie buffs.  Each card has a film on it with six items: Budget, Tech Spec, Cult Status, Future Foresight, etc.  Each item has a score.  The starting player selects an item, once cards are dealt out, and the player with the highest score for that item wins all the cards played that round.  That player then repeats and the game goes on until a single player has all the cards.  Or until Klaarg catches sight of the Forbidden Planet card with an illustration of Robby and destroys the deck.  It was fun until then.  Check it out if you will but don’t invite Klaarg over for a game.

 Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff, Henry Holt, ISBN 978-1-250-15806-2, $30.00, 321 pgs.

This is one of your alternate histories.  In it, a celebrity simpleton managesfire and fury to be elected president of one of your countries and hilarity ensues.  Kind of, sort of.  Frankly we found it very far fetched.  But, if you can imagine elephants building spaceships who are we to talk about fetched.  This is full of just eye opening wonder and we had moments when even our credulity refused to go along but we continued on anyway, right until the end. Which, we should note, does not happen here as this is not a complete story.  Surely there will be a sequel or perhaps two.  We would suggest Insane Clown Posse for the title of the next one but we understand that is already taken.  And by the way, why did they put a Klingon on the cover?

Here we are and you have, yet again, squandered your time.  Think, you could have been cooking something wonderful or baking bread.  Instead here you are.  Ah well, everything cycles and you will too.  Eventually.  Keep the door unlocked for us.  Let’s face it, if you are selected for a probing the last thing you want to do is return home to a broken door.


Knighn

December 23, 2017

Greenings Thirders

We have been struggling to try to figure out which of your holidays we should embrace.  Purely as a study opportunity of course, and, after a great deal of discussion and no small amount of agitation (Klaarg was very vocal that International Robot day was not an option), we decided on 4.  They all take place during this time period since selecting a holiday 8 cycles from now to celebrate seemed counterproductive.  Two have passed and we submit that we succeeded quite successfully in our celebrations and two more are coming up.  While it is most likely quite obvious which ones we selected, given that we most likely selected those which are also your favorites, in the name of science we feel obligated to full disclosure.  Thus, it was that we participated in National Plan your Epitaph day as well as King Tut day.  And we are planning big celebrations for Cremation Day (for when probing goes horribly wrong) and National Cupcake Day.   We almost chose World Kindness day but why be hypocritical on a holiday.  Next year we may select 4 different ones depending on which way the winds of choice and culture seem to be blowing.  National Monkey Day looks pretty good from here.

The Man in the Tree, Sage Walker, Tor,  ISBN 978-0-7653-7992-4 $26.99, 381 pgs.

We liked this one even though it kept putting us to sleep.  Seems there has been a murder on a spaceship. We’re not really sure where this ship is. It’s either in orbit around your planet, on the way to Saturn, or heading off somewhere else.  References to all three are throughout the text and confused us. But this is not the point.  The main person here isman in horny Incident Analyst Helt Borresen who is tasked with figuring out why the dead man was killed and who did it. The ship is full of cameras, unfortunately the murder took place at a time when all the cameras were down for an hour.  You would think someone would have anticipated this but evidently not.  Anycase, Helt starts gathering facts and people and working his way through his process.  We actually liked the writing of this a lot.  It is very well written, expertly so–jJust not very exciting.  It’s like a police procedural but done as a real police procedural so you get to see them filing papers, and moving documents and writing things down.  Klaarg was captivated but we think it was more because of the robot free future than anything else.  We recommend it for the writing but the plot needs a few more dead humans.

A Lot Like Christmas, Connie Willis, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18234-1, $17.00, 519 pgs.

At first we looked at this and thought, eh.  Then we relooked at it and wondered if it might not be a valuable way to gain insight into your species apparent fascination with lot likeholidays and time off from being productive.  Then we looked again and realized that Willis was not actually the editor but the constructor of the entire thing, and we thought, “Now that is indeed a fixation”.  Sure everyone probably has a holiday story to tell, maybe two, maybe even something with robots in it or sentient trees or dangling balls that do unexpected things.  But to produce enough content to fill this many pages?  We read, we enjoyed, we still wondered about the fixation though.  Still, if you are looking for something holiday like to make you drift from your reality, then this might be the perfect option.  We suppose it could have been worse.  Could have been arbor day.

The Waking Land, Callie Bates, Del Rey ISBN 978-0-425-28402-5, $27.00, 388 pgs.

We kept seeing this title as “The Walking Land” which we thought would be interesting but completely different.  This is one of those coming of age things and you do have to keep reminding yourself that this is about pre-humans (13 to 18) and not humans waking landthemselves so you have to give some leeway.  It is about Lady Elanna, who, for some reason, is devoted to the man who wrested her from her family and kept her hostage.  But, when she is accused of his murder, things change and she is forced to flee back to her homeland and her family, whom she seems to hate.  Once there she discovers she has powers and is betrothed to a king from another land who has no clue about ruling, and is also being touted as the savior of her land and people.  Um, she is not the clueless king.  All she wants to do is go to university and study plants.  While it is not noted anywhere, this is not a complete story but the first of????  We found it interesting enough, although we did have to keep reminding ourselves about the age of the people involved here.  If this is your kind of thing you will like it.  If it is not you won’t.  We can’t get any clearer than that.

The Book of Swords, Gardner Dozois, Bantam ISBN 978-0-399-59376-5, $30.00, 525 pgs.

We like swords, they hark back to a simpler time, when men were barbarians and women were , well, generally not well thought of.  Looking at American politics it is book of swordsamazing how little has changed.  Anyway, this is a collection of wonderful tales from sixteen fantasists.  We have to say we were involved from the first page through the last.  There is even a Game of Thrones tale (although seriously, what collection these days does not have one of those?)  We like these.  We like them a lot.  We have liked them ever since we stumbled across that Leiber fellow.  These are as good, in some cases even better.  And Klaarg likes to note there’s not a single robot in the entire thing.  The contents page reads like a who’s who of current and recent stars.  There is not a doubt that you will like this.  Will you like it as much as we do?  Hard to say.  We like it a lot.  Especially the Matthew Hughes, Ken Liu, and Garth Nix pieces, although the works by Scott Lynch, Walter John Williams, and Elizabeth Bear were close behind.  Did we mention already that these are all original pieces?  Go out right now and get a copy before it is too late.  Too late for what?  Hard to say but if it becomes too late you will be angry with yourself so go now.

Well, once again you’ve squandered your time here instead of putting the finishing touches on that fusion reactor.  The Earth cycles and we need to be off once more.  Watch out for that asteroid that’s dipping into your system.  It’s not actually coming that close but there is a planet killer and it’s out there, as we remind you over and over.  Keep a light on for us. Not that we need it, the ship’s got great headlights, but it’s the thought that counts.


Sevvin

September 16, 2017

Greenings Thirders

Another day another probing, at least that’s how the Zelnar look at it.  We don’t probe ourselves…wait for it…we probe you!  Ha, we made a funny.  But seriously, probing is so last century.  We note that many of you made a great hub bub about the fact your moon moved between your planet and your sun.  We’re not sure why as this happens all the time.  You all gathered outside as if you were afraid it would not come back.  Trust us, this is normal for planets with moons.  Yes, yes, we know you tell yourselves that you are truly unique in that your moon is just the right size to blot out your sun.  But, look, this is nothing more than stellar dynamic physics.  Every planet with moons suffers through this.  It is no big deal.  The big deal is when your sun gets between your planet and your moon. That one you need to watch out for.

A Conversation in Blood, Paul S. Kemp, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-553-39200-5 $27.00, 260 pgs.

This is a story about two guys, one a thief and the other a priest.  Together they wander around having adventures.  You would think this pairing would not work out so well but conversationin this case it does.  The two of them are chased by an evil that is barely describable although Kemp makes many attempts.   This evil is not just evil for the sake of fun but revengeful evil.  And why is this so?  Well, one need look no further than the thief who has stolen golden plates.  Not the kind of plates that you eat off although you could certainly have like a burrito off of one of these. No these are more the kinds of plates that are used to illustrate an event or hold a saying—kind of like a very expensive fortune cookie.   Any case, the two guys run and the evil follows.  They run some more but the evil follows.  They stop for a break but the evil finds them.  They climb a tower and the evil climbs faster.  Finally they think they have figured it all out but it involves the destruction of the world and we better not say any more than that.  We liked this, albeit we wondered about the world destruction thing.  You, being the violent species you are, will no doubt find this enthralling

The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-0474-1, $9.99, 722 pgs.

Holy Frihote (sorry to take in vain one of your gods), but 722 pages for the first bnameook in a three book set?  And this is assuming it actually is just three books.  Still, this one came highly recommended so we figured what the hay.  Turns out 722 pages was actually a bit short, or maybe just right, but definitely not too long.  This is the story of Kvothe, a wizard-minstrel sort of.  It’s hard to know the full thing when you are just at the beginning of the thing and we figure this is probably going to be the shortest of the three books.  This kind of telling has to be delicately done since it is the older version telling the story so any suspense about whether survival is at issue is kind of gone right at the get go.  Even given that we found the story fascinating and enthralling and even Klarg loved it (no robots in fantasy tales).  We have the second one right here and we are diving in.

The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Routhfuss, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-0473-4, $29.95, 994 pgs.

We have good news and terrible news.  No, the terrible news is not that this book, the second one, has 994 pages.  No, we will save the terrible news for the very end.  This is a wisecontinuation of the story of Kvothe.  We have to admit we worry about middle books.  They are like middle children, lacking the drive of the oldest and the cunning cuteness of the youngest, they seem to mostly exist just as a placeholder.  No offense meant to all of you maintaining that gap, but we were very excited to discover that this was not the case.  No, this one was just as good, if not better than the first.  We liked the story, we liked the framing, we liked the way it was written, we liked everything.  This is a great work, a wonder, one of those that will keep you turning pages because you want to discover what comes next.  Yes, we mean that.  It is that good.  However, do not go out and buy a copy.  Why you ask?  Why would you praise a thing but then keep it from us?  Have you been studying religion, you will no doubt ask?   Why, yes, yes we have in fact.  But it has nothing to do with the reason you should not buy this or the first book.  No, this is the terrible news we started with.  The terrible news is this.  These two books were written many, many cycles ago, back in your numberings of 2011.  That is many solar passings and yet there is no third book, no continuation.  The writer says maybe soon, maybe not.  Really?  These are not good answers.  We say time to chain this one to a pencil and no food or water until words flow.  We recommend these two books but definitely do not buy them until you can actually get your hands on the ending as well.   You are not a happy species as it is.  This will just piss you off more.

Pawn, Timothy Zahn, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-2966-0, $25.99, 347 pgs.

So much of this work rings familiar with us.  It is about humans who are surreptitiously captured and taken aboard an alien space craft.  The more we read the more we expected to see us.  But it was all for naught.   We recognized none of these species and pawnthe entire concept of others traveling to Earth to steal humans so they can work to repair the ships they are on is very amusing.  We thought it had been many cycles since we had read such a good comedy. Then we realized it was not a comedy.  Perhaps , we thought, it was written by someone with a brain injury who was juxtaposing the smart species for humans. Then we realized that no, it was just one more time you humans needed to see yourselves as the superior and special group.  We would tell you it is not so but why keep stating the obvious.  Anyway this is about a group of humans who end up on an alien ship only to discover how special they are. They solve all the problems, save all the days, and go on to become masters of the universe or something.  We do not know if this last thing happens as this effort kind of ends before the actual ending.  So, we are sure there will be more of these coming assuming enough of you believe it.  And why should you not?  Are you not special?  That was rhetorical.

Well, again a cycle has gone away and you have frittered.  As one of your notorious politicians said, when shown pictures of his naked grandmother, “Fake Nudes!   Fake nudes!  It’s all just fake nudes.”  You can’t make that stuff up.  Honest.  For now we are off to Planet 9.  We know where it is.  You do not.  Perhaps we’ll show you pictures when we return.  Probably not though.