The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. It goes over quite easily.

Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of Jasper Fforde
 ★     ★    ★    ★     1/2

Fun, but as with most everything I like, complicated.

The story begins with Mary Mary being shown around Reading Central Police Station by Superintendent Briggs. She needed a transfer, and Reading was home to the famous DCI Friedland Chymes, known across England for his exploits in Amazing Crime Stories. Mary had high hopes of being assigned to Chymes’ team, but is instead assigned to partner with Jack Spratt, of the department of Nursery Crimes. You know–those crimes having to do with people (so to speak) from nursery stories. Unfortunately, Jack (and the department) is facing intense scrutiny after NCI’s failed efforts to charge the three pigs with the murder of Mr. Wolff. But there isn’t time to fret.The next morning, Jack and Mary are sent to Humpty Dumpty’s accidental death/apparent suicide, only the more they learn, the more suspicious it gets.

If Fforde was content to stay with the nursery crime premise, the narrative would be relatively straightforward mystery, albeit with a fair number of detours and rest stops on the road to solving the murder. However, along the way we also meet the Jellyman, and the Sacred Gonga, the holy figure of the country of Splotvia, so it feels a little extra absurd. The first time through it was more than a bit a puzzle, and I breezed over those parts. I think they might be a sort of indirect commentary on the Dalai Lama and Tibet, but I could be wrong. Regardless, it’s more a silly aside than the main focus of the story, which is the Humpty murder.

“Mrs. Singh rang with some figures. They can’t be certain, as so much of  Humpty’s albumen was washed away by the rain, but indications show he was twenty-six times the legal limit for driving. Even so, she reckons he would still have been conscious–it’s something to do with his coefficient of volume.”
 ‘That’s one seriously pickled egg,’ murmured Jack.”

The humor is fun, but because it is quite present, it can interfere with the momentum of the mystery. Much like watching Monty Python, at a certain point, it’s just a bit much. The silliness –there’s an alien whose native tongue is binary, as in 0100111– undermining the tension of the plot, and it isn’t really until the final fifty pages that it feels quite exciting. That’s not to say it’s bad, but that this isn’t the story to keep you up after bedtime. (Yay!) But the ending is exceedingly clever, and it’s quite unbelievable that Fforde was able to make all the elements come together.

“‘Everything,’ said the biohazard agent, with the buoyant tone of someone who has just been given a lot of power and is keen to try it out.”

The writing is clever. There’s a lot of humanity in the characters, even Humpty. Mary was the most problematic for me–being quite contrary and all–until she changes her outlook. It’s the sort of book that works best if you are able to hold absurdity in your mind and yet still take the mystery seriously, as Jack does. People die, even nursery rhyme characters, and much like any honest detective, Jack is determined to do right by the victim, as well as protect the public. It’s an interesting mood mash-up that won’t work for everyone, but for those who like that sort of thing, it should work very well.

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Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of the movie
 ★     ★    ★     1/2 

Put me down for “liked the movie a little more.” 

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But scientific power is like inherited wealth: attained without discipline. You read what others have done, and you take the next step. You can do it very young. You can make progress very fast. And because you can stand on the shoulders of giants, you can accomplish something quickly. You don’t even know exactly what you have done, but already you have reported it, patented it, and sold it.

Edge goes to movie for Ian, by the visual. Though book-Malcolm has a number of such interesting lines and is full of 1989 version of chaos theory, eventually he grows tiresome . Interestingly–c’mon, is this seriously a spoiler?–book Malcolm is laid low by an infected wound. You can probably guess what happens.

Ending: Edge goes to the movie. 

Sexism: Movie is less annoying, although the movie paired off the paleontologists who had a mentor-mentee relationship in the book. The girl child in the book is pretty much everything one might hate about children, although she is allowed to defy the stereotype by being dependent on a baseball glove and ball. She takes Tim’s computer role in the movie.

Children: better in the movie. Tim’s quite the hero in the book, role given to Lex in the movie.

And, obviously, Dinosaurs: better in the movie.

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Crichton’s prose tends to be workman-like, and although he does manage to occasionally convey the immensity of the dinos, he rarely hit the from-another-epoch notes for me.

“Obviously the fitness of the animals to the environment was one area. This stegosaur is a hundred million years old. It isn’t adapted to our world. The air is different, the solar radiation is different, the land is different, the insects are different, the sounds are different, the vegetation is different. Everything is different. The oxygen content is decreased.”

However, the velociraptors were scary in both places.

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Interestingly, I had very few preconceptions about the book, except that it would be different from the movie–they almost always are. Except it wasn’t–the scriptwriters had barely touched it. Sure, backstories and detailed dialogues were left out, as well as opening extraneous scenes about some baby-biting dinos in Costa Rica. Mostly though, there was trimming, and parts of the movie–especially early on the island–seemed page for page for the book. Nedry? All there, right down to the silver candy wrapper. Chain-smoking Arnold? Yep, Samuel L. Jackson nailed that too. Overall, interesting, but I was left with a curious desire to re-watch the movie.

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Sauerkraut Station by Ferrett Steinmetz

Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of space station sci-fi
 ★     ★    ★    1/2

My absolute favorite thing by Steinmetz. It entirely deserves the 2012 Nebula nod. A young woman aboard the tiniest space way-station imaginable meets a friend who inspires her to think of the world beyond her 228 walls. It’s essentially a growing-up story, but unfortunately, world events intervene before Lizzie’s life could take the usual course.

There’s a very solid characterization here, with Lizzie feeling like a mildly sheltered young person, and the grandmother and mother (and reader) as those who have seen too much. World-building feels realistic, both logistically (conservation in space, what’s possible on a station) and politically. The ethics are perhaps a touch heavy-handed, but that’s a small downside in the rest of an interesting and unpredictable story.

I wasn’t a fan of Steinmetz’ UF ‘Mancer series, but I’d absolutely read more like this.

 

Sauerkraut Station

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Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of Christie, Poirot
 ★     ★      1/2

Some Christies are very absorbing, but Five Little Pigs (alternate American title: “Murder in Retrospect”) left an emotional gap that was never was quite bridged. Perhaps because this was the last book in her “prolific Poirot period” (try saying that three times fast) and she was stretching plotting boundaries, this feels more constructed, a more deliberate challenge to Poirot.

Poirot’s famous ‘little grey cells’ are put to the test when a young woman comes to him begging him to solve the murder of her father, Amyas, a famous painter. Although her mother, Caroline, was tried and convicted, she left her daughter a note claiming she didn’t do it, but it was in her best interest that her mom went to jail and the child sent away to relatives. Luckily, seventeen years later, the five principles are still alive and intrigued enough by the ‘foreign gentleman’ to share their account of that time.

There is the best friend of the murdered man, Phillip Blake, now somewhat corpulent (“This little pig went to the market”) and his brother, Meredith Blake (“stayed at home”) who loved his hobbies of herbal medicines and accidentally prepared the poison that killed Amyas. There is Elsa Greer, the young woman who the murdered man was having an affair with, (“had roast beef”), and who is now on her third marriage and a Lady. The remaining piggies are Cecilia Williams, the economizing governess (“had none”) and Angela Warren, Caroline’s wild younger half-sister (“went ‘Wee! Wee! Wee!’ all the way home”).

Despite being part of the nursery rhyme titles–a catch if I ever heard one–I do not recall ever reading this book, and after this read, I can see why it wouldn’t stick. Although the construction of the plot and story is academically clever, it just didn’t seem all that interesting. Perhaps because we didn’t get to know Caroline or her daughters quite as well, and they should be the emotional center of the story, since they are the hook that draws Poirot in? Poirot first spends a great deal of time with the former detective, then visits the piggies, and then reads their accounts of the day, and then pieces it all together. As an intellectual exercise, intriguing, but as a story, it just failed to capture more than mild curiosity.

As a writing aside, though I often love Christie’s economy of words, there are far too many ‘–‘ in the dialogue here to make me a happy reader. Perhaps she was thinking then of dialogue as performance, but for me it ended up feeling choppy. Here’s a bit from page three:

“You’ve got to understand–exactly–where I come in. I was five years old at the time it–happened. Too young to know anything about it. I remember my mother and my father, of course, and I remember leaving home suddenly–being taken to the country. I remember the pigs and a nice fat farmer’s wife–and everybody being very kind–and I remember, quite clearly, the funny way they used to look at me–everybody–a sort of furtive look.”

I hear your thoughts, and sadly, no; that is not just the one character’s voice. That’s occurs in most of the dialogue, and even internal ones, whether it’s Meredith thinking to himself or Poirot. 

So, a serviceable enough book, but for me, an emotional miss. Not one I’d be seeking to add to my personal Christie collection for re-read.

 

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A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

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Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of space adventures! Fast-n-furious!
 ★     ★    ★    1/2

This is the literary equivalent of the weekend action-adventure movie. Although initially slow to grab me, in the end I found it both unpredictable and enjoyable.

Over in the personal growth story, it begins Fast and Furious, with Nilah, a car-racing champion, successfully dodging an accident on the track. Meanwhile, in the post-war PTSD story, Boots, former Lieutenant, is dodging her old captain, who undoubtedly wants payback after she sold him some bogus treasure maps. When someone at the racetrack dies in an unheard-of event, Nilah is blamed and her only clue is Boots. With a bounty on Nilah, Boots sees her chance to climb out of her financial hole.

Following the redemption arc premise, neither Nilah nor Boots are particularly likable at the beginning of the story, and judging by the reviews, this can be a barrier for some. Nilah is definitely the child of extreme privilege, but she’s also developed talent and extensive training, which makes her story more intriguing than the average ‘sheltered/spoiled young adult’ arc. Boots’ story was less coherent to me. While I appreciate that White had a story worked out, the way it came about was too piecemeal for me to understand or empathize with her feelings of guilt/self-torture. When they join with the crew of Firefly, Capricious, we meet more members of the group, but none becomes particularly well-developed in this story. Frankly, that’s alright; this is a story of adventure, and misfits against the powers that be, and two personal arcs are more than enough. As White is planning a series (the second book is written, and there’s a free web serial about the time period when Orna joined the crew), I’d expect the characters to each get more of a chance to shine in the future.

The phrase was like a needle in her heart, with its thread tied firmly to the ship.

The intersection of magic and technology in the future is perhaps one of the shakiest aspects of the book. I think it was probably needful if White started with the plot as their idea, but I can see why writers avoid mixing the two. Despite the idea that at advanced science looks a lot like magic, in this case, magic was magic, coming from an area in the brain. (Honestly, I might have skimmed some of the hand-wavy parts, because it didn’t matter a lot to me. As Peter Grant notes, ultimately someone just tacks on the word “quantum” but there’s really no good explanation). The parts that explain magic often didn’t feel as well integrated into the story and more like a narrative asides.

The writing ability feels above average to me in terms of complexity. It could be because I’ve been reading in the KU lately, but it was nice to feel like I was sinking my brain into complex sentence structures and descriptions. Still, could use a bit more editing. I’ll look forward to White’s greater success and resources.

The pace was a personal challenge for me. I never quite felt like I got a chance to breathe in the story, and ended up taking a break or two just do I could do that for myself. If White could build in some less action-filled moments, it can allow for some conversations that fill out people’s stories, and let the world build more naturally in conversation or through mutual discoveries.

“I’ve never killed anyone. Wasn’t about to start.”
“We’re an away team, Didier! Away teams shoot stuff!”
“And when they’re done, I can cook them a nice meal.”

Overall, there’s a few rough patches, but it was a satisfying read, and I’ll certainly go on to the next book. Recommended for fans of The Kitty Jay and Firefly.

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Driving the Deep by Suzanne Palmer

Read June 2020
Recommended for fans of submarines, space adventures!
 ★     ★    ★     ★    1/2

Interesting that it has been sci-fi books in the past few years to really pull me out of my slump.

Driving the Deep was a fabulous follow-up to the first book about Fergus’ adventures, Finder. No, you don’t need to read it first. Yes, you should, because Fergus will undergo a very significant change in that book that gives him a very useful and needful talent here.

You know what I think about this book? This is what A Long Way to An Angry Planet could have been if Chambers had a little bit better grasp of plotting.

Fergus is hanging around with some shipmaker friends, chilling post last book when they convince him it is time to take care of some old emotional business on Earth and return the motorcycle he stole from his cousin when he left his very unfortunate home life. Unbeknownst to him, a police detective has been watching that locker for two years, for completely different reasons. When Fergus breaks in to liberate his cousin’s motorcycle, any thoughts of dealing with old family issues are wiped away when it looks like his ship-building friends are in deep trouble.

I love the characterization, and that Fergus is mostly ethical. I like the range of people he runs into, and I felt a number of them came alive, although I’d have to say that some were a bit odd just for the sake of being odd, it seemed (much like Angry). There’s a cat, as there should be on a ship, and the cat’s mostly just a cat, which I actually appreciated.

“The farther you get from Earth, the more you’ll encounter people hacking the phenotype, either for aesthetics or survival. Often both. Try not to act like an originalist if you encounter any.”

The plotting was tight, and if there was one angle that I realized, it really didn’t spoil anything, because it was the last part of the book anyway. Action was fast-paced, veering from Fergus’ internal struggle, to interpersonal tension, to large-scale environmental stresses. I appreciated the variety, and the fact that Palmer didn’t allow Fergus to wallow. Ultimately, he’s a Han.

“Here, the only thing they have to defend against is one rogue hauler pilot with a stray cat and, I suppose, possible discovery by a lackadaisical Alliance.”

Atmosphere was decent. Most of it came alive for me, although a couple of times, I’m not entirely sure I felt the weight of the moon above as much as in other books (thinking of you, Starfish.). I mean, perhaps it’s hard to find words above it because it is all darkness that deep, but that’s why the weight of the ocean and the claustrophobia become so important. But maybe it was decent. I’d have to read it again. Certain parts did come very alive.

It isn’t an outright funny book, but it has it’s moments. The almost-A.I.s in particular do a nice job of verbal fencing. And I’m almost positive I caught a couple of nerd-references to the first Star Wars. Zucker, the detective who reluctantly signs on for the ride, is also very good at being a foil, both literally and verbally.

“There were clearly significant advantages, in terms of avoiding law enforcement, of having spent a career inside of it.”

While this plot wrapped up very satisfactorily, it was a very quick ending, post climactic scenes. There was an epilogue to the scene that brought Fergus and Zucker together in the first place that I found rather unsatisfactory, but perhaps that was the strain of reading all day. I’ll have to give it another shot and see if it feels more comprehensive, but mostly, it didn’t.

Altogether, one of the few books that have held my attention since recovering (as in sit-down-and-read-all-day kind of attention)–we hope–from Quarantine Brain. I might have to go back and read the first again. Definitely a fan.

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False Value by Ben Aaronovitch. Well, yes. It was.

Read June 2020
Recommended for tolerant fans
 ★     ★    1/2

Delivered as advertised.

Oh yes; you heard right. The founder of Goodreads’ Folly Irregulars and long-time fan of Peter Grant (the novels), has found a Peter Grant book to be over-rated and boring. I daresay even badly written. Hopefully, a second listen-through can redeem it, but there is no way that should be a thing for an urban fantasy.

Narrative is from Peter, but this feels like an older, even more serious Peter. There’s a few humorous observations along the way, and some waxing emotional over Bev, but for the most part, I found the tone straight-forward and serious. I’m looking to Kobna’s reading to redeem this for me, as my preferred form for this series has been listening. It makes since; Aaronovitch tends to be light on descriptives, so a good actor can bring the character to life.

Still, most of the humor that I associate with the series seems to come from the tech-mogul’s conceit of naming his corporation and referencing all the roles within from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I will be first to say I love Hitchhiker’s in many forms (excepting the movie, really), but even I found this overkill. I can’t imagine what people who actively or indifferently responded will think. There were three or four lines that really stood out; otherwise I’d say it felt rather humorless, and much more like October Man, the recent novella with Tobias of the German police.

Bev felt like a baby-making adjunct this time. I did appreciate the explanation Peter gives at one point about how ‘magic’ might force he and Bev’s relationship into different places, but I think that one’s out of the barn, so to speak. I also felt like there was a lot of ret-conning about Bev’s Russian thug who is now her one (and only–parenthetical always added) acolyte. I think it pulls the teeth of the genus locii to say they don’t act with self-indulgence. I get it: it’s the eighth book in a series, but I’m seriously getting the feel that it’s getting out of Aaronovitch’s hands. I suggest he have more beta-readers who might read for series continuity. I did like the comment from his dad that the only time he doesn’t think about playing is when he’s playing.

What really killed it for me was the storyline, which was unnecessarily convoluted through a chopped-up timeline. When an author jumps back and forth in time, they risk losing both coherency and tension, and both end up suffering here. In a feeble effort to regain suspense, Aaronovitch frequently had Peter saying things like, “I was looking forward to enjoying my night at home with Bev. I should know better than to say things like that.” Once we reach page 200 or so (give or take; I can’t be bothered to review for accuracy), the timeline settles down and the story becomes more linear. But by then, I’m not sure it helps. It’s sort of a spy vs. spy vs. spy vs. McGuffin objective, and I just wasn’t sold anymore on the urgency.

Oh, and that ending! I’m of two minds. For how slow the build was, it’s a quick flash-bang. I won’t say any more for risk of spoilers, but I found myself annoyed and impressed in equal measures.

There’s a good chance this review–and my mind–will change with a re-listen, because that’s the kind of thing that can happen with this series, but this has a good chance for standing with Foxglove Summer as book I’m least likely to ever re-read (beyond the initial Kobna, naturally).

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Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk

Read March 2020
Recommended for people who believe in the heart and brain
 ★     ★    1/2

Not sure where I came across this little collection, but I thought I’d check it out from the library before I invested dollars in a purchase or Patreon. Turns out Seluk has a whole little collection about the parts of the body, which sounds like it should be up the medical alley. I ordered it, and when our library shut down without warning, it ended up staying on my dresser for months. However, even now I wouldn’t claim to have read every cartoon in the collection. They’re cute, but they are pretty one-note and forgettable. The premise is straightforward, although rarely explicit: Brain is the thinky one that worries, has a routine, and follows all the ‘shoulds.’ Heart is the butterfly (usually literally), chasing good feelings, living for the moment and trying to enjoy himself. The big blue thing is the Awkward Yeti, who is apparently featured more in other comics, and is likely the alter-ego of the cartoonist.

Funny, right? It’s cute, but honestly unremarkable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the jokes are physiological, like Heart getting a surprise dose of caffeine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the rest just seem to be variations on Heart or Brain trying to control/mock/encourage the other to go outside their comfort zone.

 

 

 

At the end of the day, I just don’t work like that. I feel like the brain is the one that sabotages me more than my heart. Want another helping of cookies? Heart doesn’t care, but the Brain is the jerk that talks me into it, promising to make it up later. And Brain is the one that gets distracted with every little butterfly thought that comes through the head, not Heart. Heart keeps working away, doing their thing, while Brain is actually the ping-pong.

So it could be that part of me never bought deeply into the main premise for so many of the jokes. No matter; comics shouldn’t be this forgettable. Brain and Heart agree: I’d be better off re-reading Calvin and Hobbes.

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Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor, by Peter Watts

Read March 2020
Recommended for people who want a little prod
 ★     ★    ★

I was interested in this because I found Watts to be one of the most fascinating sci-fi writers I’ve read, with wide-ranging concepts and expertise. Interestingly, the copy came to me about pandemic isolation time, when I suddenly lost my interest in anything challenging. However, it turns out Watts’ ‘angry tumor’ approach rather worked for me.

‘Peter Watts’ contains a curated version of at least fifty of his blog posts, so presumably you could find them online, with effort. As such, I would have appreciated organization to the collection. As it is, it feels scatter-shot, jumping from personal history to police brutality to movie reviews, to psionic abilities to his cats. I’m reminded of Ursula LeGuin’s blog collection No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters and it’s more thematic organization.

Applying my own advice, I’ll help potential readers know what it contains. A fair number of the posts reflect on personal history and events, which was certainly troubled. Watts had a complicated upbringing and certainly has come by his negative view of humanity by route of both experience and learning. ‘Everything I Needed to Know About Christmas I Learned From My Grandma’ starts off the collection, with a second-hand billfold gift from grandma. ‘The Least Unlucky Bastard’ talks a bit about his experience with a flesh-eating Strep infection and his ICU stay. ‘The Black Knight. In Memoriam’ is an ode to his brother,  someone he cared for but was unable to see often, partly due to Watt’s being prohibited from entering the U.S. after a dispute with aggressive U.S. border guards (apparently covered in more detail elsewhere).

Another second would fall under socio-economic activism, such as ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ when he discusses the homeless schizophrenic man who has been squatting on/near his property, ‘And So It Begins,’ and ‘Dress Rehersal’ where he talks about the role of police and revolution. ‘Life in the FAST Lane‘ talks about the problems with scanning technology at airports and allowable failure rates–“if a test with a 99% accuracy rate has flagged someone as a terrorist, what are the odds the test is wrong?” But at San Francisco airport, 1% equals 1,200 a day will be flagged as potential terrorists.

A surprising number are musings on a particular sci-fi show or movie. Blade Runner 2049, for instance, Logan, and the Thing from 2011.

There are some musings on science and the impact of people on the planet, such as ‘Viva Zika,’ musing on Zika and population control. It’s an interesting piece, and while history has not borne out it’s impact, it would have been an interesting solution to the Homo sapiens problem. ‘Smashing the Lid off Pandora’s Box‘ are thoughts post International Panel on Climate Change and the pathology of hope.

Along these lines are thoughts on humanity and thought. ‘The Limits of Reason’ explores how one can’t really logic out of arguments with believers, first tried on some Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to his door. He hypothesizes that this is partly because we have developed logic “not to glean truth from falsehood but to help use win arguments;to make others do as we want; to use as a weapon (p.216).  In support, he points out the theory of ‘confirmation bias,’ the ‘Semmelweis reflex’ that makes us reject contradictory findings, and the ‘backfire effect,’ that makes us become more confident as we are presented with greater opposing proofs. Two more dispiriting studies come up. One, from Kruger and Dunning¹ found that incompetent people regard themselves as smarter than others, tending to regard smart people as especially stupid, and continue to believe this even when shown proof otherwise. The second, by Xie et al² “suggests that a belief held by as few as 10% of a population can, over time, become the societal norm so long as that original 10% is sufficiently closed-minded and fantatical” (p.217). The citations for this one are interesting and come up a couple of times.

Some posts are pure scientific meandering. I can see it now; he sees a journal update and is motivated to do a little internet follow-up of is how the process begins. ‘Dolphinese,’ muses on whether or not dolphins have language, but I found those surprisingly unsatisfying. There were some references, but what mostly seemed to happen is that Watts read an article and then went off on a little riff, or it spawned a little research project of his own, and then was moved to write up his thoughts in a post, so it really wasn’t anything too in-depth. The dolphin post, for instance, just has three references, so it isn’t like it’s a particularly strongly researched post. ‘Extraordinary Claims’ is about psionic abilities and clearly he was a lot more interested in that, because it had eleven references.

And some posts–not many, thank goodness, are about how we need to ‘recalibrate’ hope. These are hard but interesting reads. To be fair, he realizes what he is saying. He just things we’re better served with a dose of reality. I, on the other hand, would have to point out everything he said earlier about how … complicated… people are.

Visual side note: Trade paperback is lovely, from the detail work in the table of contents to the block-print icons leading off each piece.

I’d call it two-and-a-half stars. Interesting insights into a really, really interesting author, but nothing as profound or moving for me as Ursula LeGuin’s similar work.

 

¹’Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 77(6), Dec. 1999

²’Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.’ Phys. Rev F.84011130 (2011).

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Short Story Round-up: Nebulas 2019

 

Best Short Story
• Give the Family My Love by A.T. Greenblatt (Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 149, February 2019)

I enjoyed it, despite a recently noted dislike of epistolary storytelling. A pessimistic anthropologist astronaut is the last chance for humanity as she attempts to make it to the Library on a hostile planet.

Three and a half stars.
• The Dead, In Their Uncontrollable Power by Karen Osborne (Uncanny Magazine Issue 27: March/April 2019)
• And Now His Lordship Is Laughing by Shiv Ramdas
• Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island by Nibedita Sen (Nightmare Magazine, Issue 80)
• A Catalog of Storms by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine, Issue 26, January-February 2019)
• How the Trick Is Done by A.C. Wise (Uncanny Magazine Issue 29: July/August 2019)

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