Sics Tene

November 4, 2018

Greenings Thirders

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, travelonly human 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 humhead onans 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 girl in the towerwriting 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 if tomorrow comeswith 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.

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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?