Phor Tein

July 20, 2018

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Thurt Ene

June 25, 2018

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuh Welve

April 8, 2018

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tenn

February 23, 2018

Greenings Thirders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sicks

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?


Phive

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.


Two

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.