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 and 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 sleep 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 adventure? 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 are 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.