June 18, 2020

Greenings Thirders

You may not realize it but all of the planets in your system had rings at one time.  Well, except for the really small one nearest to your star.  That one did not last long enough to get rings, instead slowly having its orbit degraded by the solar wind until it eventually just disappeared into the Corona.  No joke.  The rest of them (planets, not coronas) eventually ate their rings, destroyed their moons, had a few collisions, and spewed the remainder into the Oort.  We have to say that we enjoy the Oort.  It’s quiet there. And dark.  And relatively peaceful. And then we return here which is pretty much the opposite of all that.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse, K. Eason, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-1529-7, $26.00, 408 pgs.

We have to admit that we initially thought we were not going to like this one.  And it did not help that Klaarg kept making jokes about how much overtime he would get working in multiverses.  We admit now that we were very surprised.  We enjoyed this one a lot.  It is about Rory who is a plunky young woman.  We’re testing out new language andRory Thorne Kelptoneffra, Klaarg’s puddle mate, tells us it should be plucky but we’re pretty sure that has to do with chickens and since there’s not a chicken in sight we’re sticking with plunky.  Any case, Rory grows up, sees a few folks get blown up, meets a prince (does not really go well), grows up some more, gets involved in politics and ends up on a foreign space station betrothed to a prince (still not going well) and knee deep in politics of the ugly kind.  Thank goodness she’s plunky because she manages to figure it all out without having to kill anyone or do serious harm.  One thing to note is that this is Book one of the Thorne Chronicles which implies that there will be more.  We’re okay with that since we enjoyed this one so much.  You probably will be as well.  After you go out and get your own copy of course.  Which you should do immediately.

Bowl of Heaven, Gregory Benford & Larry Niven, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-29709-9, $9.00, 435 pgs.

When we were on the Ringworld, they spoke very highly of both Niven and Benford so we approached this with a certain level of anticipation.  This is about a bowl-shaped structure (it’s huge) which is found by an Earth starship.  The starship has been sent on a journey to a distant planet in hopes of being able to colonize it.  Most of the crew is in deep Bowl of Heavensleep with a very small rotation of engineers to manage things that come up.  The ship has been sent with a limited amount of resources (why is not really all that well explained, but, okay.  When the ship comes upon the bowl, the engineers, who have not been chosen for decision making, wake up one of the crew members and fill him in.  He, in turn, has the Captain woken up who, in turn wakes up others.  Besides the bowl-shaped object, the ship is not quite operating as it should and is going a bit slower than expected which means resources are even tighter.  Plus, waking others up will use more of these resources.  So, when they detour to the bowl and discover that it is not only inhabited but that it may have resources, they wake up even more people and send a landing party.  Did we mention that the bowl is inhabited?  Yes indeed, and the inhabitants, who have a habit of picking up other races and folding them into their culture, whether they want to be folded or not, are interested in these new visitors as potential resources themselves. This is a classic first contact situation.  Of course, it is being told from the human perspective, so the humans are, of course, more superior than the bowl builders.  Or at least that is where this seems to be going.  This is the first of three.  Things may change as things develop.  Finally, we must note that we are a bit disappointed that this is not quite as invigorating as we had hoped.  Considering the two involved we had expected great things.  Instead it is almost as if their pairing has reduced their individual efforts to some middle point.  It’s still interesting and worth following but not up to expectations.

The Big Book of Modern Fantasy, Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, Eds., Vintage Books, ISBN 978-0-525-56386-0, $25.00, 896 pgs.

This is a big book.  We are serious.  Big.  Both figuratively and literally.   Big in size, big in scope, big in content and big in the area where it really counts, pleasure.  There are ninety-one tales here and while some were created by those known to you, many more are probably offerings from the unknown.  And is that not the reason we are all on this Big Book of Modern Fantasyadventure?  Same for the tales themselves.  Some you will already be familiar with, if not by content then by title.  But many more are like foreign delicacies, lying there just waiting for you to arrive to scoop them up and try.  Likewise, they are from many different time periods.  Some from the more distant past, some from the recent past, some from just a few years ago and some, for all we know, from the future.  We can not talk about any one offering without offending too many of the others so let us just say that you would be hard put to just open this randomly and start at the tale you come upon and not find something enjoyable.  It’s also a good thing we can extrude extra limbs because this thing is big.  We think we mentioned that, but it bears repeating.  Get your copy now.  Or soon when it actually become available.  Failing to do so would be a big mistake on your part.  See what we did there?

The Unspoken Name, A. K. Larkwood, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-23890-0, $25.99, 464 pgs.

We enjoyed this one a great deal. Not only for the actual telling but also for the way that those being told about are presented.  This involves wizards, teen aged priestesses who Unspoken Nameare raised to give their lives to Gods, many different races, wizards, and a quest for power and redemption that is also quite unusual and involves wizards.  We liked it from start to end, although we don’t think it’s really ending just pausing.  But we can forgive that.  Here’s the thing.  The wizard is human (we think), one of the priestesses is an Orc, another is an Elf (we think) and there are any number of other creatures involved.  Thing is, it is not so much what they are but who they are that matters.  You can get from start to finish here and think you are following a group all from the same place but with varying abilities.  And yet they are not.  This is really masterful.  It is unlike anything we have come across and we found it really refreshing.  We cannot recommend this highly enough.  Seriously.  Go out and get a copy.  Get a couple because they will make great gifts and this kind of thing really should be supported and encouraged.  We look forward to more.

We went long this time.  It happens.  Get over it.  Oh wait, we forgot who we were communicating with. You still carry stuff around that happened millennia ago as if it had happened yesterday on the street corner.  Sometimes we think that comet cannot come soon enough.  Or, as one of your wise men once said, Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.  We’re still working on the translation but we’ve seen it all over the place so it must carry significance.  Entering a new probing cycle.  Just saying.  Eyes to the skies.  You  know where to put your hands.


May 12, 2020

Greenings Thirders

You make us nervous.  Very nervous.   We’ve mentioned before that we think you might have a suicide complex as a species and, as the evidence mounts, it leans in that direction.  While this does make for fascinating study material it gets a bit tiring after a while.  Clootaroot, our resident academic, says if they sat down right now, they could write nothing but academic papers for four lifetimes.  That’s a lot of papers (we live a lot longer than you).  Not that anyone reads those things.  We don’t.  We’d probably just wait for the graphic novel.  It would, most likely, be a very short one.  Like three pages—a fish coming out of the ocean onto the sand, a few humans struggling over a cheeseburger in a polluted city, and the crater left by the asteroid that hits the reset button.  The colors would no doubt be pretty and we do like fish.

Wanderers, Chuck Wendig, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18210-5, $28.99, 782 pgs.

This is an interesting tale about a virus that comes upon your population by surprise and the ineptness with which it is greeted.  No one knows where the virus came from, only that it is here and that it infects a specific group of people.  Your CDC is not sure what is Wanderersgoing on, the White House is pretty much frozen in place for fear of making the wrong move and creating a public opinion nightmare.  The local governments are overwhelmed and can’t adequately respond, your far-right movements are becoming more agitated and active, and religion seems to be leaning toward an act of God.  Yes, yes, yes, we understand that this would never, ever happen to you in reality but just for a moment let’s pretend it might.  This is very well put together and while it is a bit light on the specifics and perhaps a bit too reliant on the Deus ex machina (literally), we still found it very enjoyable.  We think you will as well.  Hypochondriacs should avoid, everyone else jump in and enjoy.

Pariah, W. Michael Gear, Daw, ISBN 978-0-7564-1344-6, $8.99, 485  pgs.

We return once again to the planet Donovan.  This is a third continuation of the events which transpired there and it is a direct follow up to the first two previous event records.  The driving incident this time is the appearance at Donovan of a survey ship that left Earth to do the initial survey of the planet.  For those on board, the travel pariahappears to be instantaneous.  Yet when they arrive it is to find another ship in orbit and the planet colonized.  Actually, a great deal of time has passed, much to the consternation of some of the scientists on the ship who had intended to try to keep the planet pristine and free from human contamination. As all this is happening, Talina Perez flees the settlement because her Quetzal infection is getting worse.  She manages to find Kylee, the child who had bonded with the Quetzal Rocket and the two of them set up camp at an abandoned site in the wilderness.  The arrival of the new ship makes everything worse (you humans are very, very good at this)  Plus, there is a corporate assassin on the arriving ship who sees the settlement as an ideal place to set up a kingdom.  You can imagine how that goes.  Wait, you don’t have to imagine. Someone has already done that for you.  And we know how much you humans enjoy that as well.  We like this as much as we liked the first pair.  Our only issue is another well known human trait, that being the inability to end anything appropriately.  So, more to come evidently.  We recommend it.  What more do you need?

Alpha and Omega, Harry Turtledove, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18149-8, $28.99, 467 pgs.

This is by someone known for recreating history (basically lying about what has already happened).  We typically like this kind of thing since we do it when we journey from place to place.  Recreating history, not lying.  This time, however, it is not history thaAlpha and Omegat is being lied about but used to generate the premise of an event that has been, apparently, foretold by any number of your religious fanatics.  This is set in Israel and involves all of the major players you would expect.  We say players although none of them plays very well with any of the others.  Add in American television and you can see where things might get a little tense.  The whole idea is that ancient prophecy concerning the end of days is coming true.  Much of the action is centered on the Temple Mount.  It is very well done as you would expect and if you are not very familiar with any of the above, not to worry, since it is all explained.  Well, enough is explained so your comprehension will be sufficient for you to follow along at your own pace.  We liked it.  We think you will like it too.  But know it is different than what you might have expected.

Broken Angels, Richard Morgan, Gollancz, ISBN 978-0-575-08125-3, $15.99, 468 pgs.

You may have heard of this from the Netflix series called Altered Carbon.  Diamonds are one of the results of altering carbon but there are none here.  Immortality, of a sort, is another. Once again, we are shown the behaviors of one Takeshi Kovacs, an individual Broken Angelswho has been a super soldier, now more down on his luck and trying to stay alive, albeit not making great choices about how that happens. Anywho, this time Takeshi finds himself re-sleeved into a damaged body while fighting in a civil war sponsored by the Protectorate, although in a hands-off kind of way.  Things are going badly for both sides although, in the end, it seems the Protectorate will have their way.  Just not this week.  Takeshi wakes on a hospital ship and learns about an artifact that could be significant.  He joins a team of mercenaries and archeologists and sets off to claim the prize.  In all things involving large sums of money, potential military hardware and many secrets, there is treachery, half information, and damaged individuals.  To make it all worse, Takeshi is being tracked down by someone out for revenge, who may or may not also be part of the deal.  Not that any of this matters since it is all there just to churn the pot within which Takeshi swims. We liked it.  We liked it a lot.  We liked the first one.  We have the third one.  We expect to like it as well.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Go out and buy.  We already did with no regrets.

It has been said that it is a fresh wind that blows against the empire and that the solar wind is not so strong as to blow your hat into space.  We won’t speak to either of these things since we are pretty sure that a fresh wind blows against everything and that wearing a hat in the solar wind is just silly.  It does seem like something your species would attempt though, given your track record of spewing trash contaminated with yourselves into space.  Let us tell you that space has a long memory and may return to come get you, whether or not you are wearing a hat.  And if any of your contaminated material intersects with some other species and does damage, hoo boy.  Prime rib directive be damned then.  And with the Admonk treaties being revised (not to your favor by the way) next cycle, the gates are open.  We’ll be here, if only to record the mayhem.  We know you will be here.  Mayhem and you kind of go together.  Besides, where else can you go?  Eyes, seriously, to the skies.


April 1, 2020

Greenings Thirders

We open today with the words from one of your mystics; H. G. Wells,  “ For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things–taken toll of our pre-human ancestors since life began here.”  Truer words have not been spoken, and so, while you look up to see what comet or meteor or Skylab might be about to fall on you and end it all you get bit in the behind by the very thing that might usher in the same end.  Yes, yes., we made a lot of funnies just now but really, who cares?

Cry Pilot, Joel Dane, Ace, ISBN 978-1-9848-0252-1, $17.00, 409 pgs.

Mmenemennefra was not all that pleased with the title of this one.  As our pilot they want everyone to know that every time tears are shed by a pilot, a navigator is involved.  While we can’t speak to that for all pilots or navigators, we can confirm the truth in our case.  Any who, we agree with Mmenemennefra.  We almost always do since when we Cry Pilotdisagree, they don’t take us where we want to go.  But in this case, we really agree.  We almost always say that as well. But that is neither here nor there, just like when your pilot thinks you are disagreeing with them.  We actually enjoyed this one a lot.  Once we got past the title.  It’s about redemption, deceit, loyalty, killing, a world clawing its way back from a near extinction event, and diversity.  Maseo is the main person here, the one with secrets and a dark past, who believes that by getting into the military he can make up for past mistakes.  Problem is they don’t want him so he volunteers to be a cry pilot, the only way he can get in.  The rest is pretty basic stuff as he manages to cheat his way into the system and into basic training with a group of others who are from all levels of society.  We liked this so much we would read more.  And, evidently, we will get the chance since there is a sequel coming.  But let’s not put the cart before the barn, gets the horses too excited.  Get this one and go in peace.

Otaku, Chris Kluwe, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-20393-9, $26.99, 353 pgs.

Hmmmm, this is another tale about people in the lowest tier of your society trying to find Otakua way out.  In this case, the place is ditchtown and the way out is by becoming an expert gamer.  Ashley Akachi is one of the best, if not the best, able to lead her team to victory against the greatest of odds. But things are deteriorating, and corporate war seems just around the corner and, as it turns out, Ashley and her friends have not only been playing a game but being prepared for combat.  We liked this one. We found it interesting for the construct of fantasy and reality and the interface between the two.  We’re not sure we buy the gaming to reality shift but, hey, doubts and benefits, yes?  Go out and get a copy and see for yourself.

The Firmament of Flame, Drew Williams, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-18620-1, $18.99, 368pgs.

For the third time, Esa and her mentor Jane and the ragged crew that accompanies them in their galactic adventures, are on the hunt for the energy beings known as Cyn.  They firmament of flameare also trying to track down a way to get rid of the pulse, which has rendered all technology more or less useless, but only on planets.  Klaarg was very interested in this as he likes to keep his end tips on the pulse of things but it turns out there is a robot priest here so he was out.  This continues the chase across the universe and ends up in a place of impossibilities designed by an elder race but currently used by the Cyn as they prepare for galactic domination.  There’s a lot going on here so the best thing would be for you to grab a copy and find out for yourself.  We enjoyed it, although, like many other things you do, there is not really an end.  We find this a human failing, putting much energy into starting things but then not putting much into ending them. Still we recommend and you should get all three as this is not the kind of thing you are going to want to walk into on the third act.

Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz, Bantam, ISBN 0-553-80249-6, $26.95, 399 pgs.

It’s been a tough while and so we thought we would lighten up our studies with something a bit out of the ordinary.  We were told of this fellow who was a fabulist and Odd Thomassomeone who had an interesting outlook.  What better to take our minds off of your self-destruction?  And so we dove in.  We must say right off that the title is very descriptive.  The entire study is about this Odd Thomas, who can see and communicate with dead people; many of whom have been wronged and need some retribution.  This is kind of an open secret within the community that Thomas lives in.  So, it is no surprise when Odd becomes involved with a mysterious man who comes to town.  The man is a big eater and has a closet full of information about serial killers.  This fellow is also being followed by a pack of horrific shadows.  The only clue Odd has is that things are going to go bad on the 15th.  Since it’s the 14th Odd has little time to figure this all out.  So, with the ghost of Elvis as an occasional companion as well as his beautiful girlfriend, whom he loves more than anything, Odd sets out to save everything.  Well, we have to admit that this was not the cheery interlude we had been hoping for.  But we liked it none-the-less.  We believe you will as well.  Assuming you enjoy death, serial killers, spirits, dead Elvis, and a lot of mayhem.  Oh, go ahead, you know you do.  Based solely on your species history of course.

Social distance all you want, if it’s your time to be probed, it’s going to happen.  At least we can’t admonish you for wasting your time here since we are sure you would otherwise just be watching yourselves self-destruct on cable.  Speaking of which, we had our own channel once but had to give it up as it violated the prime directive related to the Admonk treaties.  Some of those provisions are due to expire soon though so who knows, we might be back.  On cable.  We’ll definitely be back here.  After all, we are only a few years into our five-year mission.  Hummer’s laying the long odds that you’ll end before it does.  Either way we’ll be out of here.  Until then though, watch up.  Next cycle big things are bound to take place.  We know you will want to be here.  Where else can you go?  Spa Fon, and eyes to the skies.


March 21, 2020

Greenings Thirders

We’d like to think you have a reason for what you are doing to your planet but the more we know the less we think so.  Apparently, based on what you say and do, you believe either that a) the planet is some sort of self replicating entity that will just reset all on its own or, b) that you will, somehow, suddenly stumble on some kind of fix to the whole mess you have made.  Have you not paid attention to your own history?  We realize that there is a narrative you like to lay out to each other about how you can fix anything and always have, but it’s not very accurate.  In fact, it is downright full of holes.  It is almost like all of your past is simply one long practice session to your inevitable mass extinction.  We know you worry about being hit by a comet or an asteroid, but the reality is that you are more likely to just off yourselves through ignorance. It’s disheartening.  But then intelligence is a rare thing in the universe.  It evidently missed your system entirely.

The Girl In Red, Christina Henry, Berkley, ISBN 978-0-451-49228-9, $16.00, 292 pgs.

We understand that this is a story you tell little children, about a small girl running through the woods, encountering a wolf who tries to seduce her but instead eaThe girl in redts her grandmother and whom the little girl them eviscerates with an ax.  We will save our thoughts about the tales you tell your children for another time.  This is a different version of that although many things are the same.  It is tomorrow and you have pretty much offed yourselves, or just about.  Red, and her brother, are on their way to their grandmother’s house after a near apocalypse has taken out most of the world.  Her brother dies early on and red, who is an amputee, is on her own.  She runs into some outlaws, some soldiers who might be okay and might not be okay, and a few folks just trying to survive like she is.  She has some rules.  She mostly follows here rules.  And she has a sharp ax.  We liked it more or less and we think you will too, more or less.  It is well put together although not quite as horrifying as the original.

Salvation Day, Kali Wallace, Berkley, ISBN 978-1-9848-0369-6, $26.00, 310 pgs.

This is about a near future after something horrible has happened, maybe an almost apocalypse, and the planet is under the control of elite government operatives.  Those Salvation Daywho choose to not toe the line are allowed to head off into the desert where they can barely scrape together a living.  Some take this option.  Unbelievably enough, a band of these misfortunates manage to put a plan together and hijack a space shuttle with the purpose of ransoming the passengers to get the government to allow them, and the 300 or so others who are in another ship they somehow got their hands on, to populate a generation ship that has been parked in orbit.  We know, there are a few items in there that almost demand deeper scrutiny but for now just pretend.  The reason this large ship is parked in orbit is that it contains a space virus, maybe the Romulan Pox which you would get from drinking Romulan Ale in a Romulan pub with a Romulan who has the pox.  In any case, this virus killed the crew and is apparently still active.  You can fill in the dots from here.  Or don’t and get the book to find out for sure.  Either way you will probably like the way this one comes together.

Queen, Timothy Zahn, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-2968-4, $18.59, 449pgs.
Subtitled “A Chronicle of the Sybil’s War”.  The third entry in this series picks up where the last one ended.  Nicole, the identified Protector of the starship Fyrantha, finds herself in a quandry.  She has power, evidently, but is hard pressed to figure out exactly what it Queenis she can do.  There are limits to this power as the ship has been sectioned off into parts with different factions controlling different areas.  There is her group, the ship masters, the ship itself and ship constructs.  To make things worse, the ship masters evidently have masters themselves and they are on their way to the Fyrantha.  On Nicole’s side is a growing number of other beings who would like their servitude ended.  At stake is the survival of humanity, and others.  We enjoyed it although, in typical human fashion, it does not really end.  We’re sure more is coming although we would have really liked to see an ending.  Get yourself all of these since starting with this one is going to put you behind the 8 ball. Not that you aren’t used to that position already but just once, make things easier for yourself.

Zero Sum Game, S. L. Huang, Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-18027-6, $18.99, 352 pgs.

Imagine if you could see math, that is, things like vectors, velocities, intersection angles, etc.  Yes, yes, some of it is physics but physics uses math too.  This is what Cas Russel can do.  Which makes her pretty handy to have around, especially when you add in her Zero sum gameabilities with weapons and hand to hand combat.  What she does is find people, and this is about the person that she found, then lost, then found again, then lost again, then got into a huge amount of trouble for trying to find again.  We mean like FBI and CIA trouble, as well as any number of cartel goons and international assassins.  The math stuff works fine for her, at least until she runs into a telepath who can make people believe things they have not done and unbelieve things they have.  Imagine your own confusion with not being able to trust what you think you know to maybe be real.  We enjoyed this, at least to the extent that we can tune out the reasons why it could not be real.  This is fine.  That’s the whole point of this.  To exercise your mind into seeing an alternative reality.  Your species is adept at this.  That was not a compliment.  You will like this and there is another volume coming or already out.  We’re not sure.  Galactic travel plays havoc with your time sense.  Just get a copy.  Or get both if they are both out there.

So, again you are with us.  At least in spirit.  Which is fine since it can take a while for us to adjust to you in person.  Watching you we are reminded of the time we landed on an unnamed planet (we are sure it had a name we just did not know it) and made the mistake of leaving the ship without doing a full environmental scan.  Some of those rashes took months to go away.  We think Hummer still has a couple.  In any case, always look before you leap, or step, or, in Hummer’s case, fall.  We say this knowing you will not listen.  That’s fine, we are not supposed to be giving you advice anyway.  Next cycle we promise big things.  Plan to be here.  In fact, be here early just to be sure.  Until then, Spa Fon, and eyes to the skies.


January 12, 2020

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


December 4, 2019

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


November 15, 2019

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


September 25, 2019

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.