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Reviews from August 2014 (23)

On a Red Station, Drifting

On a Red Station, Drifting

By De Aliette Bodard 

18 Aug, 2014

Miscellaneous Reviews

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Just a short review today; I thought this was a full length novel and when I discovered it wasn’t, it was too late to bring a back-up book.

The Dai Viet Empire spans star systems but it spans fewer systems than it did a few years previously. As an ineffectual emperor and his court abandon peripheral systems to warlords, Linh, a functionary haunted by guilt over having abandoned her responsibilities flees towards Prosper Station and what she hopes will be refuge in the arms of family.

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Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer’s Hammer

By Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle 

17 Aug, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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The 1970s were a golden age of disaster movies and books; skyscrapers burned down, nuclear reactors melted down, and earthquakes leveled cities. First published in 1977, Lucifer’s Hammer was a late entry into that genre0 but what it lacked in timing it made up for in scale; where previous entries had wrecked cities, Hammer smashed the planet and where others killed hundreds, Hammer killed billions. It’s a shame, therefore, that one could easily envision D.W. Griffith filming it and not for the spectacle.

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Rocket Ship Galileo

Rocket Ship Galileo

By Robert A. Heinlein 

15 Aug, 2014

The Great Heinlein Juveniles (Plus The Other Two) Reread

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First published in 1947.

Post-war but not too post-war America! While the UN police guarantee global peace and systems as different as the American and Russian ways of life live together amicably, three young men, products of America’s impressive new school system, are focused (as so many young men of this time were) on their homemade rocket. While the rocket itself goes all kerblooie, the young men — Ross Jenkins, Art Mueller and Maurice Abrams – count the experiment as a success, at least until they find the unconscious man on the doorstep of their test facility, apparently brained by a fragment from the exploding rocket.

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Shadow: Book One of the Scavenger Trilogy

Shadow  (Scavenger Trilogy, book 1)

By K.J. Parker 

14 Aug, 2014

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A battered man wakes on a battlefield, surrounded by the dead of two armies. His own clothing gives no hint which side he was on and when he stops to think about it, neither do his memories because he is an amnesiac. Happily, from time to time he encounters people who recognize him; less happily, recognition is immediately followed by attempts to kill the nameless man.

As murder attempt after murder attempt is foiled by the amnesiac’s preternatural skill at killing, the amnesiac begins to suspect that perhaps he isn’t the nicest person around. While he cannot do anything about the past, he can try to be a better person in the future.

As Arthur C. Clarke once observed, nothing is quite so ominous as means well.” 

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Cage on the Sea

Cage on the Sea

By Kaoru Ohno (Translated by Giles Murray)

13 Aug, 2014

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Note: the Kindle edition of Cage will be going on deep discount on 814 (Thurs), the anniversary of the end of WWII. It will start at 80% off ($1.99), then tick up by approximately $2/day until it returns to its normal $9.99 price.

This is a bit outside my usual remit, a strictly historical novel based on events that occurred from 1944 onwards, but it seemed like an interesting choice to inaugurate Translation Wednesdays. 

By 1944, the war in the Pacific had developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage. Logistical challenges were met with increasingly desperate measures, including dragooned cargo ships being sent out without military cover in the hope that if enough ships left port, a few would make it to their destination. Most, of course, did not. 

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Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate

Seven Citadels Quartet

By Geraldine Harris 

12 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

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The Seven Citadels quartet is composed of the books Prince of the Godborn, The Children of the Wind, The Dead Kingdom, & The Seventh Gate and was originally published in the early 1980s.

I dithered about whether to do these as four stand-alone reviews or one but while each book works on its own, I read them all back to back and however I happen to have read something the first time is obviously the best way to have done it. Except for how I read Princess Bride, which involved having my left hand crushed under a rock; I don’t recommend that at all.

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Sight of Proteus

Sight of Proteus

By Charles Sheffield 

10 Aug, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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(Ah, the lower-case a” Ace colophon. I much prefer it to the capital A that showed up sometime after Baen started running Ace. What was it about him and publishers with triangular colophons)

Charles Sheffield (19352002), born in the UK but resident in the US for much of his life, was a moderately prolific science fiction writer, specializing what’s often called hard SF. You would therefore expect this particular book would be filled with mass ratios, slide-rules white-hot with the speed of calculation and engaging discussions of the implications of the Poynting-Robertson effect on deep space mining. Instead it is a glorious celebration of some of the wackier elements kicking around the United States deep in the now-legendary Disco Era.

2190(ish): three million humans live in space but the majority of the fourteen billion people alive live on an overcrowded Earth that is despite the best efforts of the experts of General Coordination teetering on the edge of collapse. Draconian measures to limit population growth1 have failed to produce a steady state and aside from one act of terrorism that killed a billion people, population has only crept ever closer to the the Malthusian limit. Space resources may help but they are only delaying the crisis and if Earth collapses, the United Space Federation will soon follow.

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The Desert of Stars

The Desert of Stars  (Human Reach, book 2)

By John J. Lumpkin 

8 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

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John Lumpkin’s second novel serves to remind readers that there is such a thing as well-written, carefully thought military science fiction, and that there is no reason why MilSF fans need to settle for sub-par Extruded MilSF Product churned out by a collective of once-greats and never-weres. 

This picks up where the previous book left off: Japan and China are embroiled in a vast interstellar war, one triggered by the revelation that the distribution of habitable worlds near the Sun is far less homogenous than previously believed and the luck of the draw has gifted China with a natural route to the richest systems.

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Full Fathom Five: A Novel of the Craft Sequence

Full Fathom Five  (Craft Sequence, book 3)

By Max Gladstone 

7 Aug, 2014

Special Requests

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If the cover still has an Elizabeth Bear blurb on it 0, that’s a plausible choice on Tor’s part but the blurb that they actually went with was The best yet from Max Gladstone.” – Charles Stross1.

Alt Coulomb remained loyal to their surviving god. Dresediel Lex massacred their gods and replaced them with Undying Kings. The tropical island nation of Kavekana chose a third option, replacing their dead gods with what amount to artificial deities, human-crafted idols used as center-pieces in mystical investment schemes. Until now, that compromise has seemingly worked well.

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Wheel of the Infinite

Wheel of the Infinite

By Martha Wells 

5 Aug, 2014

Rediscovery Tuesday

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Maskelle was once of figure of some significance in her native Celestial Empire – the human Voice of the Adversary, the great being charged with fighting evil — but having blotted her copybook with a bit of business involving a false prophecy and a trail of dead bodies she was consigned to exile in the provinces, far from the center of power. Now, after years of exile, she is returning home to Duvalpore, summoned by the Celestial One.

Many great empires style themselves the center of creation. The Celestial Empire is unusual in that this is true, the world is centered on the sacred mountain in the Empire. For the priestly functionaries of the Empire, a map in the sacred mountain can literally be the territory. For the most part the Empire has used this power to carry out rituals necessary for the functioning of the universe.

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