We’re not sure why but this particular period of your calendar is just littered with religious observances. There’s the holy day of the dead, the day of the dead, the day for the dead, the day with the dead, the day with a dead bird, the day when none work but the dead, the day where the dead go shopping, and the switch over period where you get rid of everything dead. We’re not sure about this fascination with holydays. It’s a uniquely human thing, go figure. We particularly like the one where treats are free for the taking. We’re just not sure if you have to be dead to get them or dead to give them as we’ve seen it go both ways.
Only Human, Sylvain Neuvel, Del Rey, ISBN 978-0-399-18011-8, $28.00, 336 pgs.
We had to send Klaarg to the store for butter. It’s not that we needed butter but this one happens to have, and be, mostly about, robots. This is the third time that we have delved into this strange land where giant robots are first, put together, figured out, fight, travel the stars, return, fight, and finally make a peaceful gesture. It’s not quite that simple of course. It never is when giant robots are involved. In between the discovery and the peace there’s a lot of journeying and more than a little figuring out. There’s also an entirely alien planet involved. And a lot of discomfort on the part of the main people involved. As well, your society manages to revert to a near barbaric state pretty much on it’s own. And here’s the odd thing that we did not really notice until the second book. There is no exposition here. The entire story is told in dialogue, reports, diaries, and other forms of communication. A fascinating device that does not get in the way of the story but makes the tale more unique for the process. We recommend it. But not to Klaarg.
Head On, John Scalzi, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-8891-9, $25.99, 335 pgs.
Hmmm, this is about taking people’s heads off and using them as game balls, something humans have been doing since the Inca used them for soccer. It’s also about moving human presence into autoforms, or, as Klaarg likes to say: ROBOTS!!! This is a bit of a mashup with bits and pieces jumbled together to make up a more or less coherent whole. There’s also a lot of unusual words that are used so you have to get used to things being named differently. At it’s heart it’s a detective story with future trappings. Somewhat juvenile although we are sure that fans of previous work will fall all over this one. We did get to the end and we found ourselves mildly satisfied so there is that. We expected and wanted more but got what we got.
The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden, Del Rey, ISBN 978-1-101-88596-3, $27.00, 362 pgs.
This is the second offering of three. We enjoyed the first although we are not big fans of Russian writing or Russian-type writing or writing in Russian. We might be okay with writing in Russia but have not tried it so cannot say with any certainty one way or the other. This is a continuation of the first while, at the same time, being a set up for the third. Once again it is winter in Russia. Perhaps it is always winter in Russia. Hard for us to say. Vasya, who has fled her village, shows up in Moscow, being chased by raiders while carrying a group of children to safety. She is pretending to be a young man, which creates some moments of confusion for her brother, the priest, when she runs into him. It creates more difficulty for her sister who is married to a man who is oddly absent for the entire story, but whom is a high ranking personage in the Moscow Prince’s court. It creates even more confusion and consternation when it is found out that she is a woman pretending to be a man, even though as a woman disguised as a man she proves herself more formidable than many of the men around. As last time, she has a horse that understands her, a snow guy who is kind of in a confused relationship with her, and a demon who just wants her gone, or married to him, he kind of goes back and forth. That’s a lot of stuff going on and it’s an interesting read because of it. If you read the first like we did then you will like this as we did. If you have not read the first then you should before this one. Recommended.
If Tomorrow Comes, Nancy Kress, Tor, ISBN 978-0-7653-9032-5, $27.99, 334 pgs.
This is the second in this offering. Seems like we are doing seconds this time around. It’s a sequel as well as a prequel and continues the tale of the aliens who came for a cure and with promises even though most of the promises were lies. Your species tends to think this of the other. Really, why would a more advanced species feel the need to lie to you? Anycase, this one is set on the planet inhabited by the aliens who visited and the Earthers are in for a shock because, ba da bum, the aliens lied. Pretty much about everything. They live in a perfect society with regulated population, no unemployment, no poverty, no war, no bad stuff at all. As soon as the Earthers land they decide they must go about fixing this. At the same time the spore cloud is approaching and there is no cure and not much immunity. To top it off the Russians have followed the Earthers to the planet, destroyed some stuff and then, apparently, just left, never to be seen again. None of this will make sense unless you have fully encompassed the first one in this series. Which you should because it is an interesting premise even if there are some holes here and there. The writing almost makes you forget them though and so we end up thinking we should recommend this one.
Here you are once again, wasting your valuable time as if you don’t run away, covering your nether regions every time you hear that your Congress is launching a probe. We’re off to Washington ourselves, hoping to pick out a fat turkey for the coming holiday. But do not be concerned as we still have a few years left on our research project. We’ll be back. Keep your eyes peeled and your forks raised.