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.



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.


August 31, 2017

Greenings Thirders

The Ckickitick have been asking a lot of questions about your species generation of power.  Essentially they are baffled why you have not yet harnessed the almost unlimited power of your own star and instead chew through natural resources like a narcissist on crack.  We really had no explanation for them other than that you seem to be a bit developmentally disabled, operating at an emotional level far below your chronological age.  Why if the Tlarians had not intervened in that missile thing you were involved in a while back you most likely would be back sharpening sticks on concrete rubble.  Those of you who survived that is.  It’s a good thing the Tlarians like rum.  Regardless, off we go.

Ninth City Burning, J. Patrick Black, Ace, ISBN 978-1-101-99146-6, $16.00, 536 pgs.

Okay, so this appears to be set in your far future after your world has been ravaged ninthby the attacks of an alien race (we did not recognize them) which left very few of you left.  However, you have managed to find certain individuals of your species who are able to harness the power the aliens use and you have been fighting back.  We have to say, if we were ever going to attack a planet, and we are not sure why we would since planets are everywhere and most are uninhabited, but maybe this is something to do with your needing to feel like you are the shiny penny in the universe, that we would just finish the job and not leave anyone left.  In any way, this is about how you fight back against insurmountable odds even though you don’t understand much and barely have two sticks to rub together.  It was okay done but not something that we would bring with us anywhere.  You are so warned.

Waking Gods, Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-101-88672-4, $28.00, 324 pgs.

This work is a follow up to Sleeping Giants.  We liked Sleeping Giants.  We liked this one too.  It is about giant robots so we had to send Klaarg shopping—to Ix—for snacks.  Many Good snacks on Ix.  Wwakinghile he was gone we read through this.  While there are many species that build and use robots, none of them do so in a giant fashion.  It’s just not efficient.  Even the giant species do not do this.  But this is not about what is real it is about what you believe.  It is almost as if you have to believe one unreality thing a day.  So, sure, giant robots.  This time the giant robot that you have discovered and learned how to work has company.  More giant robots.  From space, at least that is what you believe since they just kind of appear.  And they don’t do anything, at least until you surround one with tanks and your military and then things go south.  We are not quite sure we understand the genesis of this going south but sure, giant robots.  The robots fight and one of them wins and then more giant robots show up.  It’s a feedback loop apparently.  Any case we enjoyed this all the way through and thought that the presenting of information was done in a very deft and entertaining fashion.  You should see for yourself.

A Lit Fuse, the Provocative Life of Harlen Ellison, Nat Segaloff, NESFA Press, ISBN 978-1-61037-323-4, $35.00, 448 pgs.

We have to say right now that we enjoy everything that NESFA Press makes.  We now have to let our bias free and let you know that we know the author in question. No, not Segaloff although the Segaloff species is known for its research and scholarly attention to academic minutia, yet we are pretty sure that Nat, while a Segaloff is not a Segaloff.  No, litno, the other one is the one we know.  Any ways, this is a biography written by someone who was given full access to materials and to the person.  We have to note that this Ellison fellow is quite well known and of some repute.  You may have heard about him.  Half of what you have heard is simply not true and the other half is stuff you have not heard yet.  We do have one goat to sacrifice here and that is that Segaloff (the human not the species) makes note of many battles and yet rarely gives any opposing views so we are left believing or thinking that this Ellison fellow may have been on the right side of things most of the time.  Hard to know when you only get one piece of it.  In the end it matters not since this is a telling of a life fully lived, if by fully lived you mean at the edge of creativity, which has always been associated with madness and foolery.  We did enjoy this as we have enjoyed all of the other things that NESFA Press has produced.  We would like to say we have a deeper understanding of the man behind the image and perhaps we do.  But there is a lot of complexity here that would probably require a literanalyst to get to the bottom of.   Get one and find out for yourself.  A copy of the book not a literanalyst.   Your opinion, after all, is the only one that counts, regardless of what Segaloff (the species not the human) says.

The Dreaming Hunt, Cindy Dees and Bill Flippin, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-3515-9, $28.99, 462 pgs.

Okay, stick with us.  The Urth, a planet, albeit not your planet, which is, if we remember correctly, called Earth, was once green and full of beings.  Then the Kothites came.  None know from whence.  And not the men, nor the elves, nor the other creatures who existed knew either.  This makes things a bit unpleasant for all of those who are alive.  But there dreamingis hope, there are rumors that a Sleeping King exists, a powerful Elf elemental who is trapped in a spell, who, if he can be found and awakened, may bring Urth back.  A group of very young adventurers sets out to find this King and set things aright even though they are young and a bit clueless.  But hey, this happens all the time.  Well, perhaps only here as other species tend to rely on trained professionals for the most part, and hired mercenaries for the remainder.  But, what the heck, this is Urth and not Earth so why not.  This group is chased willy and nilly, up and down, across and whatever the opposite of across is.  They find clues, they fight, they nearly die, they find more clues, and it all comes together just enough so that you are able to realize that the end is not in sight.  At least not in sight of this particular tome.   We finally realized that this is based on a game, one of those role playing games.  You know, the kind that goes on and on and on.  We fear.  Yes indeed we do.  And you?  We cannot say.  We liked the first one.  If this were a trilogy we might say this suffered from secondopia, but it’s unclear so we remain unsure.

Well, one more cycle has passed and you’ve wasted part of it with us.  As one of your famous politicians said, “Russian?  We’re not Russian anywhere.  Honest.”   We’re off to the nether regions.  Keep an eye out.  We’ll be back.  Unless we are not.  Who can really say for sure?


June 21, 2017

Greenings Thirders

We’re been out in the Oort cloud trying to figure out which of the pieces of rock out there will take out your planet.  We have not found it yet but we’re pretty sure it’s there.  While we were out there we did find an ion trail.  We followed it, said hi to ion and then continued on with our search.  You would say this is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  But only if your hay was interstellar emptiness and your needle was a planet killer.  Not a very apt analogy on your part.  But, then, you are like that.  Not apt we mean.  Not the haystack or needle thing.  Just, never mind.  We’ll move on.  Next month we probe Uranus.

Alien Morning, Rick Wilber, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-3290-5, $25.99, 300 pgs.

This is a book about aliens and, hey, we think we know these guys.  Finally.  After all this time a species we recognize although they are from the other side of the traackst nebula.  This is a first contact report, or could be or might be.  We need evidence that you are nalien morningot just making shit up all the time.  This is about a guy and his brother who get pulled into being representatives of the S’hudonni (not their real names).  This goes well for one brother but not for the other.  One becomes a deranged terrorist and the other an apparent tool of alien invaders.  We’ll let you figure out which one gets the happy ending.  This is actually quite well done and, we believe, based on the writings of Zuun Tzooo, who famously said “The best victory is waiting for your enemies to boil from radiation while you snack.”  Or something like that.  We are not military academics so some of the finer points of this stuff eludes us.  Any cases, you will enjoy this one if you like to learn about first contact situations.  We know a lot about first contact as well as close encounters of all kinds and we enjoyed it.  You would enjoy it even if you’ve never been probed.  Probably.

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-101-88593-2, $27.00, 323 pgs.

This is one of your fairy tales which means it is allegorical and symbolic all at the same time.  This one is inbear and nightingale Russia, or the old Russia, before the Putins took control and enacted their 500 year empire.  Wait, has that happened yet?  Yes, yes, we see that it has so no need for us to worry about giving things away.  This is basically about the conflict between the old and the new and, as is often the case with you people, religion is driving things.  Truly, you will be much happier once you……wait, that has not happened yet so no more from us.  In any cases, Vasilisa, a young woman sees the old and is scorned for it by those who believe that only the new can save them.  Well, in this case that is not the truth and by casting aside the old they are putting themselves in peril.  This is also about the move from dirt roots to star roots and the loss that involves.  Truly, in space there is no dirt.  But you have many journeys to go before you understand that and many of them will involve exactly the conflict laid out here.  This is very well done and we enjoyed every word except for the final two.  You will do the same no doubt.  For sure.

Radiate, C. A Higgins, ISBN 978-0-553-9448-1, $27.00, 317 pgs.

Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Even things that last just a particle of a cycle have these things.  Some would try to extoll the virtues of beginnings while others would try to convince you that endings are the best.  We prefer the totality of a thing.  We can not explain those who believe that the middle is the place to be.  We enjoyeradiated the first offering of Higgins and we did wonder at the middle work, noting then that it appeared a bit fluffy, like ice cream with more air content than necessary.  Now that we have finished the ending we have to say, meh.  We watched two galaxies come together once and we came away with the same feeling; great fanfare, a few collisions and gravitational warping but, in the end, just a lot of stuff moving through space.  We felt that way with this offering.  Much motion but to what end?  We also struggled a bit with the time displacement.  Give us an interesting premise and give it to us straight we say.  The more you fancy about with the format the more we wonder whether you are doing so due to weak content.  This does move the story along to an end point but by the time we got there we were just happy it was over and cared little for those caught up in the movement.  We believe your time can better be served in other spaces and we have come to regret that ours was not.  Spa Fon indeed!

Luna: Wolf Moon, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7553-7, $27.99, 382 pgs.

Let us end on a high note, albeit we are stuck in the middle and one always wonders (see above).  This is the second book in this series.  We are not sure how many there may be.  No one may know this.  So, it is hard to judge whether it is a middle or a beginning Lunamiddle, or an end that will lead to side efforts.  This is about your moon, or Luna, as none of you call it, preferring instead to just use a descriptor, although you do call it The Moon as if it were the king of moons somehow.  In any hows, we liked this one.  It’s about people on your moon, different factions, sort of like if the mafia had developed a space program and gotten to the moon first.  Each faction is doing its own thing although since it is the moon, they are all dependent on each other, at least until one decides that they are not.  This is a complicated one and we enjoyed it for that.  Because there are humans involved, things inevitably go horribly wrong.  And that’s the tale here.  We liked it, almost all of us.  We are sure you will like it too.  We can’t say if there are more of these coming.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Live in the now and just enjoy.

Well, your moon, The Moon, has swung through it’s cycles once more and you’ve just wasted part of it here.  Will you never learn?  We’re off to Neptune and perhaps to the Twilight Zone as they are pretty close to each other.  Until then try to stay out of trouble.  Ha.  We made a funny.


June 3, 2017

Greenings Thirders

We have recently been spending time closer in to your star.  We thought we had detected a perturbence in the force and wanted to confirm our sighting.  Turns out it was nothing more than the Xarbed taking their GGlGGlG for a drink.  The Xarbed have developed a biomechanical transwarp engine that lives and needs to replenish itself by sipping at solar coronas every so often.  Sure it takes some time off the life of the star but most species do not outlast their star to begin with so it’s not that big an issue.  And, at the rate you guys are going, we could open a filling station for GGlGGlGs and still have plenty of star stuff left.  We used to be concerned about telling you things like this but we have noted that you ignore everything not related to your immediate needs so we’re putting our concerns to the side for now.  Perhaps you’ll change but more likely this system will be just one more place where a potentially intelligent species could have developed.

The Family Plot, Cherie Priest, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-7824-8, $25.99, 365 pgs.

Certainly one of the things that we study are your units of habitation, how you develop your offspring, and the inter-relationship of beings that share genetic components.  Hey, wait, you are going to say, those are three things.  Yes, we know but we used the connective to tie them all together into a single mass which makes them one thing.  Anyway, we got involved in this telling of a family business that sells used house things.  They get their used things when people no longer want them and decide to sell them off.  In this case it is a house full of stuff.  Not the contents but the familyplothouse full itself—the wood, the lights, the wainscoting (we had to look that one up), the doors and windows, the stairways, and all of the rest of it.  Unfortunately, in this case, the house also contains a few spirits.  In charge of this demolition is Dahlia Dutton and a small crew of family, close family and others.  No sooner than they arrive than they start having strange encounters.  These encounters get stranger and more personal as time goes on until everything comes to a head during a big storm.  We liked it although we have yet to see any proof of these spirits that you all seem to believe in.  We’re not sure if they are metaphors or allegories or something else because no known species believes in life after ending.   Get it yourself and enjoy it as well.

Starcraft Evolution, Timothy Zahn, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-425-28473-5, $28.00, 355 pgs.

Okay, so this is a history based on a game that apparently has no purpose other than to tie up large amounts of band-width on your computer systems.  But, hey, what else would you do with itstarcraft?  It’s not like you are seriously trying to figure out fusion or develop hydrogen power converters.  Anyhow, this is about the savage Zerg, the Protoss (who are like elves) and humans.  We have never heard of the Zerg or the Protoss (it’s almost like you are making this stuff up) but it is a big universe.  We’re just not sure how you know of species we do not.  So, the Humans and Protoss join up to meet the Zerg who have discovered how to do something wonderful. However Zerg do not trust humans who do not trust Protoss who do not trust Zerg and so what should take five minutes instead involves fighting and munitions and treachery and explosions.  You can tell this is related to your species, right?  We found it interesting albeit in a linear, ducks in a row kind of way.  If you have spent bandwith in the past you will probably enjoy.

The Night Ocean, Paul La Farge, ISBN 978-1-101-98108-5, $27.00, 389 pgs.

This one leaves us wondering.  It is, essentially, a fiction of the truth.  We know that, lately, this may seem commonplace, but it was not when this was produced.  Thenight ocean key person in this story is H. P. Lovecraft although he does not tell the story.  No, the story is told by one Marina Willet, the wife of one Charlie Willett, who has become fascinated with H. P. Lovecraft and has disappeared.  Her attempts to find him and to unravel what might have happened to him are what make this up.  And, we are assured, the facts of the matter are indeed the facts of the matter.  We wanted to go through this because of the relationship of Lovecraft to the Dark Ones.  And, since they refused to talk about him, we decided to see if he would talk about them.  Him being dead did stymie us for a bit but then we found this, which we enjoyed.   If you find yourself stymied then perhaps you should also find this.  Or maybe you just want to know more about Robert Barlow.

The Skill of Our Hands, Steven Brust and Skyler White, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8288-7, $25.99, 348 pgs.

We liked this, let us say right up front so there will be no misconceptions.  This is about your present day, could be yesterday, could be tomorrow although tomorrow would technically be the future and we did not see much future in this but definitely a lot of the skill of our handstoday.  In any case, there is this group of humans who are immortal, although they are immortal in an odd kind of way that involves taking over the existing body and spirit of other humans who kind of volunteer for this.  But that does not matter so much as that they have a kind of long range plan to do good—at least as they define good, which is always the problem, right?  How that actually plays out of course is interesting and this is what makes up the body of this work.  We find the premise wonderful and interesting and fascinating and while we think we would enjoy more in this vein this one may just have been enough.  You should definitely get your own copy.  This Brust fellow is worth following and while White is new to us he may be worth following too.  Best of all no robots so Klaarg enjoyed it as well.  Oh, and this is a second book.  We did not read the first and seemed to have no trouble getting to the end but you should know this.

Once again you’ve ruined another cycle reading this.  About this, your President would tweet—Sad!  We  will say no more.  And now we are off to the outer limits just because we can.  We control the vertical.  We control the horizontal.  Well, the navigator does, more precisely, but let’s not quibble.



March 27, 2017

Greenings Thirders

Welcome to the eyes of March.  We understand they are smiling.  We’re not sure why.  This is one of those periods that is just packed full of cultural significance.  There are murders, parades, ashes, green beer, bunnies, cross hangings, little  people with pots of gold, resurrections, and lots of chocolate eggs.  We honestly have no idea how all these things are connected although we are sure they are.  Sometimes we wish you would just go back to the old festivals as things were much easier to understand then.  The other thing is that, evidently, this period comes in like a liar and goes out on the lam.  While that sort of makes sense we don’t see the social relevance.   Frankly, we are looking forward to April, a time period where you celebrate weather and what it does.

Killing Pretty, Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager, ISBN 978-0-06-23731-06, $25.99, 387 pgs.

We’ve noticed a trend in that your species spends a great deal of time writing about hell and other places where you believe you will be sent to be punished for leading a less than pure life while actually on the planet.  And, yet, the lives you lead while on the planet are not even close to adhering to the tenets that would keep you from being sent to such places.  And no one killing prettyembodies this more than Sandman Slim, an individual who was cast into hell, fought in the hellish arena, killed to get out, killed once out, killed until he became the ruler of Hell, killed to get out of that, killed one of the manifestations of Gods, possibly killed Elder Gods, and definitely killed any number of vampires, ghouls, ghosts, demons, witches, warlocks, and assorted bad guys, including a few insurance salesmen.   We like Sandman Slim.  We think he is the best thing to come to civilization since the quantum disintegrator.  And remember, just because we say a thing does not mean it can be a thing.  Think of Romulan Ale.  The only thing better than the Sandman are his friends and he seems to have a lot of them and most of them are not human. We’ve been to LA a few times but never when the stuff that is going on in these books seems to be taking place.  Still, we like it as well.  We’d say more but that would be telling.  Go out and buy yourself a copy or two.  You will thank us.

The Perdition Score, Richard Kadrey, Harper Voyager. ISBN 978-0-06-237326-7, $25.99, 375 pgs.

Okay, we’re telling.  This is more in the way of Sandman Slim.  This time though he’s got Angels perditionon his hands.  And not happy Angels but the pissed off kind.  We’ve never seen an Angel although we are pretty sure we’ve come through Heaven once or twice on the way here.   So, this is a complicated one, involving, black liquid, powerful sorcerers, goons, a group that bets on everything, insurance for the dead or about to be dead, vampires, and personal intrigue related to romance.  We still liked it.  This Kadrey fellow, who looks like he just barely missed the cut in a hell’s angels movie, has a way with words.  We’re not sure we’re believing that he’s had all these experiences though.  We believe that he is conflating his own and many other’s experiences and labeling than all as Sandman Slim’s.  This is fine. Less people to keep track of.  Especially since so many of them die.  We enjoyed the whole thing and would like to have more.  We think you will agree.

Cold Welcome, Elizabeth Moon, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-10-18873-18, $28.00, 431 pgs.

You write about a lot of planetary systems we have never heard of.  Sure you call things funny names but we’ve been checking the star positions and there’s not much there where you say things should be.  Maybe you are just off.  It does not take much we understand.  Any hows,cold this is all about the planet Slotter Key (see what we mean by the name thing?) Slotter Key is the home of the Vattas.  This is important because Space-fleet commander Kylar Varra is returning home to do some family business.  Unfortunately, she is sold out and the shuttle she is on crashes into the cold ocean near a continent that is uninhabited for apparently mythical reasons.  She survives, along with most of the crew and passengers of the shuttle and manages to make landfall.  But, the question is, are those who set up her crash still with her?  And what about the secret base they discover?  Sure, it keeps them alive but those who built it could return at any moment. And, while she is a commander, she is a space commander and not necessarily a land commander.  The intrigue all plays out as the group tries to stay alive in the hostile environment.  We liked it.  We like most of this Moon person’s work.  You will probably like it too.

A Night Without Stars, Peter Hamilton, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-345-54722-4, $32.00, 702 pgs.

Hey, there are a lot of pages in this one.  Purely on a page per penny cost ratio it’s a steal.  Of course if you steal it the ratio goes way down.  This is a novel of the Commonwealth.  No, not Massachusetts, but the one in space. It was a while before we figured this out for ourselves so we give you this now so you won’t have to go through the wondering.  The Commonwealth is evidently a big place.  And yet it is a place we are not familiar with.  But, the universe is large night without starsand we have not seen all of it.  The action this time is set on the planet of Bienvenido.  Not that it matters since everyone who finds a planet gives it a different name.  Except for the Zilph who just number everything.  Somehow, this planet, which has been inside the Void, has been expelled and is now roaming the universe on its own.  This has not changed the conflict between the two inhabitants of the planet however—the humans and the Faller.  The Faller are trying to get rid of the humans and can mimic pretty much any living organic creature, which comes in handy when you are trying to infiltrate a species.  The humans do what they do best—destroy things.  Into all of this comes a baby.  But not a normal baby.  This baby grows at an incredible rate and contains much of the knowledge of the Commonwealth.  The humans who have her believe she will lead them to victory against the Fallers.  The humans fighting the Fallers believe she must be destroyed as she endangers their way of life. Since she is human, more or less, the Fallers want her dead.   Just another day on Bienvenido evidently.  We have liked this Commonwealth stuff and would like to see Hamilton’s original notes so we could go visit a lot of these places.  You probably would like that too.  In the meantime you can read about it and yearn.

The Final Day, William R. Forstchen, Forge, ISBN 978-0-7653-7673-2, $36.99, 348 pgs.

The world is a mess thanks to an EMP that has laid waste to most of the elthe final dayectronics on the planet.  Initially we scoffed at this since any race soon out of the electronic box learns to protect against this very thing since if you don’t any wandering electromagnetic space whale can burp in your vicinity and take you right out.  But, we discovered that all of your electronics are not shielded in any way.  Oh well.  This is obviously a cautionary history since we can travel the planet and see that none of this is actually happening.  That being the case we forgive the few things that did not really ring true to us.  Then again a lot of your behavior does not really ring true so who are we to say anything about that.  We enjoyed the premise and we think it is a foreboding warning about a potential future for you.  A grim future.  Just the kind you seem to enjoy.  It is also a follow up on a previous work that detailed the immediate effect of the aftermath of the EMP.  We liked that one too.


One (Sort of)

February 27, 2017

Greenings Thirders

We have decided many things.  We will share one with you.  For the many of you who follow us, please, stop.  We do not like being followed and we are not going to lead you to anything and even if you did manage to find something out it would only end in a probing which only one of the parties involved would enjoy.  No, we are talking about our sharing information with you in a more formal way.  As many of you know, we have used multiple venues for our sharings with you.  We have, in the past, tried to use your own communication vehicles since it lends a certain amount of camouflage.  Now we are trying something new.  We are forging off on our own to see how it all works out.  We believe it fits quite nicely with the tribal arm of our study of your species.  But, we will see and only time will tell.  Actually, time will not tell you anything.  It’s just there.  Constant.  Moving forward at the same pace as always.  You can go quicker but time will not.  You can stop.  But time will not.  Time was here before everything else.  We probably should not have said that.  But, what the heck.  Consider it part of the experiment.

The Devil’s Detective, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-53934-0, $25.95, 289 pgs.

Your species seems stuck on always wanting something different, which you oftdevils-detectiveen think of as better.  Instead of enjoying what you have, you need what you don’t.  This has led to the proliferation of your religions and drives much of your politics.  Even when you develop systems that are supposed to be for everyone you get it wrong.  So, it is no wonder that so much of your written history revolves around these alternative existences.  Such is the case here, where Unsworth (and we are sure this is a penname that has symbolic meaning related to the topic) has shared his knowledge of how Hell operates.  Unsworth tells us about Thomas Fool who is an information man in hell, an investigator with a never ending supply of cases and a demon boss who does not think all that highly of him.  But then someone is found murdered, which you would not think is all that uncommon an occurrence in hell, but evidently it is.  Fool investigates but gets nowhere.  Then more murders happen and Fool is under pressure to get things figured out and fast.  The problem is, while Fool is an information man, he is not a detective since there is no crime in Hell, or there was not until the murders.  Or there was but it was not really crime but expected behavior and so not crime.  We don’t know, we got confused on that part.  So, Fool has no idea, nor does anyone else, about what to do.  Essentially he’s learning as he goes.   Must we say that things get complicated?  It’s Hell, of course things get complicated.  And we have not even spoken yet about the angels.  We liked it although we are still not clear on which came first, Hell or politics.

The Devil’s Evidence, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-53936-4, $26.95, 481 pgs.

Yes, it’s Deja Thoris all over again.  Once more we are being told about Thomdevils-evidenceas Fool, investigator in Hell.  Only this time Fool is not in Hell but in Heaven.  Due to Fool’s rise in fame, he has new enemies in Hell.  And new crimes to solve.  This time it’s fires, which, again, you would not think of as a problem in Hell but there you go.  But, right in the middle of his investigation, Fool gets tasked with being part of a delegation sent to Heaven.  While there, he ends up investigating an impossible murder.  Needless to say, things get complicated, what with a Hell based detective asking questions in Heaven.  And, while Fool is running around Heaven, things are going to hell in, well, Hell.  But, what’s a fool to do?  More importantly, what’s this Fool to do?  Why, figure it all out, of course, and that’s were Unsworth shows his skill in letting things play out at their own pace and in their own time.  We liked this one as well as the first one, in case you could not tell.

Company Town, Madeline Ashby, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8290-0, $24.99, 285 pgs.

We looked at many maps and could not find any New Arcadia, which is the location of this work.  We could not find any Old Arcadia or Used To be Arcadia either.  Must be a pseudonym.  Maybe for Chicago.  We hear that city is called many different thingcompany-towns.  Anycase, this takes place in New Arcadia and since the trappings are futuristic we figure it is allegorical.  So, back to New Arcadia and Hwa who lives there and is a natural human, meaning that she does not have any enhancements.  In fact she is the only one without any.  She’s also a hired bodyguard.  She also ends up as bodyguard to the youngest member of the most powerful family in New Arcadia.  She’s also connected to a series of murders that threatens the city.  This is a lot for one un-adapted woman.  Oh, yeah, the murders seem to have been done by a serial killer.  And an invisible one at that.  So, Hwa wanders through New Arcadia, bodyguarding the youngest member of a powerful family while a serial killer invisibly stalks nearby.  Just another day in paradise.  We liked it.  We liked Hwa.  We did not get the parable.  Maybe not Chicago after all.  We’d like to see more if we could.  That’s not up to us though.  Did we mention that Hwa has issues with her mother?

Slow Bullets, Alastair Reynolds, Tachyon Publications, ISBN 978-161-696193-0, $14.95, 192 pgs.

Imagine a huge ship, wafting its way through space. Imagine the ship filled with soldiers from a war, from both sides of the war.  Imagine the soldiers are in some kind of sleep.  Imagine something happens to the ship, taking it off course, slow-bulletsdisabling it and slowly, very slowly, the soldiers begin to wake.  Imagine what would happen as the two sides come together.  Well, no need to imagine any of that because Reynolds has evidently beat you to it.  Not only that but he’s added in war criminals, a crew that is literally stuck in the middle, and a universe that wants nothing to do with the ship and those on it.  Interesting is the best word we could come up with.  We’re not sure where in the universe this takes place as we recognized none of the descriptions but that’s neither here nor there.  Literally.  Enjoy it.  We did.

The Lyre Thief, Jennifer Fallon, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8079-1, $27.99, 445 pgs.

This is part of the Hythrun Chronicles.  It is also War of the Gods Trilogy: Book One.  There are a number of volumes that make up these Chronicles.  To which we wonthe-lyre-thiefder: can you not complete your wars within a single volume?  Evidently not.  As a species you seem to enjoy dragging things along for years if not decades.  In fact we read a while ago about a hundred years war.  That’s a long time to be fighting.  If you ever manage to develop particle weapons you are going to be sorely disappointed since wars using those tend to last just weeks.  Princess Rakai and her slave half sister Charisee switch identities when Rakia is sent off to be the wife of a doddering old fool as part of a trade agreement.  Turns out Rakia is not really a princess after all since her mother had an affair with a guard captain.  And the whole thing would have gone south if not for the intervention of the Demon Child who calls the God Death to make a deal.  Complicated?  You bet.  But your entire species lives this way.  Well, except for the intervention of the gods thing because there are no gods but you did not hear that from us.  We enjoyed the intrigue even though this is yet another listing of places we have never heard of and which do not appear on any of your historical maps.  Time for your species to fix that.

Altered Starscape, Ian Douglas, Harper, ISBN 978-0-06-237919-1, $7.99, 373 pgs.

We enjoy that you think the first response to most unknowns is marines.  In this case space marines.  But, still.  Also, black holes are not transportation hubs.  You can get energy out of them, yes, but if you try to travel through one you just increasaltered-starscapee the amount of energy available for the black hole and do nothing for yourself, unless your goal was annihilation by black hole.  In that case everyone wins.  Lord Commander Grayson St. Clair is, supposedly, sucked through a black hole and travels not only in space but in time as well.  And, sure, all travel involves distance and time but this guy and his ship traveled light years and 4 billion year units in time. We suppose if you are going to screw with the laws of the universe you might as well go big or go home.  In this case, neither is an option and so they do the next logical thing—call out the space marines.  In this case it does seem to be warranted since they seem to be facing a nefarious enemy that appears to be all powerful.  This is the beginning of a new series.  We do not know how many books are in it since, evidently, Douglas is making it up as he goes along.  Not the way history, even future history, should work.  Still, we liked it, even if we did not recognize any of the other species involved.  But, like we have said before, you are way out on the end of one of the spiral arms—a place no one goes—so, who is to say what’s out here besides you?  Get your own copy and enjoy.