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DEyncourt posted:
Tor Books has released another first FREE e-book in a series: Envy of Angels: A Sin du Jour Affair, which is the first book of a presumably to-be seven book series in which author Matt Wallace focuses on a food-related versions of the seven deadly sins (he and Tor will release book 6: Gluttony Bay this coming November).

To qualify you must be in the US or Canada and be 13 or older. First sign up here to receive Tor Books' weekly (or so) e-mail newsletter, then use the subsequently available link to download Envy of Angels in either ePub or Mobi format. This offer is valid only through "12 midnight EST on Friday, September 29th" (that wording is a bit off since in previous offerings Tor had the ending time of 11:59 pm ET which is more definitive, and for this past June and July offerings it was Sunday through Thursday instead of Tuesday through...what? Perhaps they meant the ending midnight of Friday? Personally I use the starting midnight of a given date).

Ah, grumph.

I just checked and apparently Tor Books did mean the STARTING midnight of September 29th as the offer has been withdrawn by 5:20 pm PDT (which was the time I first checked).

Sorry about that confusion and if anyone missed getting that free download because of oddly stated ending time.
user Stupid cockwomble
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Got it.

Turned out to be pretty enjoyable.

Picked up a few Phillip K. Dick stories - turned out to be Gutenberg Press. Think I'll check that out for more early sci-fi goodness.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015).

I am having a tough time recommending this book. While intricately detailed, the narrative split between 4 separate storylines takes a very long time to cohere together, plus being the first book in trilogy means that the story here has to be incomplete.

I am also split on how much detail to give. I could explain the reason for the title, but that would necessitate having to delve deep into the whole history of this world.

For me it took to about page 150 for me to just understand the split storylines, although how those narratives fit together doesn't become clear until very deep into this novel.

Let me just say that I will be voting with my wallet and will pick up the second part of this trilogy.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

I'm having a hard time getting into it because I haven't yet accepted the premise. I'll stick with it.
Ribtor posted:
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

I'm having a hard time getting into it because I haven't yet accepted the premise. I'll stick with it.

The whole thing about a system feeding back on itself to give rise to meaning seems to misfire for a couple of reasons (syntax is not semantics, and even syntax itself is not a physical feature of the universe, it requires a specific background dependent on observers and systematic observation).

But that said, it’s a fun book with puzzles and ambiguous language and wit. It is an enjoyable work of art, and it’s beautiful on its own.
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (2017).

If you have liked anything else that Senator Franken has written before then chances are you will like this.

This is partially an autobiography which through the first half concentrated on those aspects in his life which eventually led to his run for the Senate in 2008, specifically his assisting Senator Paul Wellstone's re-election campaign in 2002 which ended when Senator Wellstone and his wife and his daughter were killed in a small plane crash shortly before the election that year (the Wellstones' two sons were not on that flight), and of course a big chunk on Franken's Senate run in 2008 in which he squeaked into the Senate by a vote margin of 312 out of a total of 3 million votes cast and following about 6 months of various legal challenges.

The second half on Franken's life in the Senate is particularly instructive in how the Senator had been able to get through some legislation partially by finding Republicans who shared his views on particular issues. Mind you: even with this bipartisan support some of these pieces of legislation got passed by the Senate but subsequently died in the House.
Envy of Angels: A Sin du Jour Affair by Matt Wallace (2015).

I did get this free via that offer from Tor Books and thus read it on my iPhone.

Unfortunately for me, this is NOT my kind of fantasy novel so I will not be continuing with this series. It is something of the equivalent to a horror movie which chiefly relies upon an open door or corner in a hallway to allow things to jump into the camera's frame to cheaply scare the audience.

I HATE movies like that.

Sin du Jour is a specialized catering service. VERY specialized, but its owner is a well-known chef with a celebrated--at least in cooking circles--reputation which is why Lena and Darren are rather surprised when that chef calls them out of the blue to offer them temporary positions as chefs pending his approval. Lena and Darren are also a couple who very recently find themselves unemployed while trying to maintain an apartment in a going-upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn. While longtime friends they have no romantic attachments to each other, sharing this apartment merely to spread out the cost.

The next day they go to Sin du Jour for their joint interview and a clearly unrealistic test (based on their reactions. I have only a basic knowledge of cooking). Lena passes and Darren barely fails, but Lena tells the head chef that they are a package deal if only for their friendship (and, of course, without Darren Lena would have to either look for new apartment-mate or somehow pay the full rate).

On their first full day Lena and Darren are given their chores preparing dishes when Darren runs out of an ingredient. Despite given the explicit warning that the pantry is strictly forbidden to newbies like themselves, Darren ventures into it and things happen. Not just slapstick stuff but weird things.

It goes on from there with weirder things and events happening. I guess that some people must find such writing at least amusing, but it's not my kettle of fish (pun intended).
user Stupid cockwomble
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Envy of Angels got a slow start with me, too. It reminded me of Piers Anthony's work. Part of what kept me going with it was that I used to be a professional cook.
I finished Kushiel's Dart. While I was STILL bothered by some of Phèdra's sex scenes, as this novel progressed Carey began to use the technique of having Phèdra begin some of those scenes with Phèdra stating a variation of "I need not describe the details of" potentially particularly ugly scenes.

On the other hand, Carey does tell a rollicking and detailed tale of adventure as Phèdra grows up and begins to dig into the political alliances in the City of Elua (Lyon) and around Terre d'Ange (France), with her eventually traveling--involuntarily--to Skaldia (Germania for ancient Rome) then--somewhat reluctantly--to Alba (Britain).

As this is Phèdra's tale it shouldn't be necessarily a spoiler to reveal that at the end she is ultimately triumphant largely through her own actions, but Carey does leave her with a mystery that was deliberately laid out for her.

I am still not sure if I will get the following book in the series.
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re-reading "a distant mirror" by tuchman (via audiobook)

such an amazing book by a truly gifted author
justine Elitist Beer Lover
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It's not really a novel or anything. It's called All These Wonders from The Moth. It's just people stories. Short stories about things that have happened in their lives. Some are funny. Some are sad. Some are inspirational. All are interesting.
The Moth is also a weekly hour-long podcast which also may be broadcast by one of your local Public Radio Stations. That particular episode that justine mentioned--which is more fully titled The Universe of Impossible Things while "All of these wonders awaited us" is the title given to one story segment within that--will be added to the podcast line on October 24th (so I guess that Public Radio is given the benefit of having a leadtime of 3 or 4 days based on my local NPR station which broadcasts the program during the afternoon every Saturday and Sunday).
justine Elitist Beer Lover
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DEyncourt posted:
The Moth is also a weekly hour-long podcast which also may be broadcast by one of your local Public Radio Stations. That particular episode that justine mentioned--which is more fully titled The Universe of Impossible Things while "All of these wonders awaited us" is the title given to one story segment within that--will be added to the podcast line on October 24th (so I guess that Public Radio is given the benefit of having a leadtime of 3 or 4 days based on my local NPR station which broadcasts the program during the afternoon every Saturday and Sunday).

My absolute favorite is The House of Mourning, by Kate Braestrup. It's a good read, but so much better when listening to her tell the story.
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The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel by Neal Stephenson and‎ Nicole Galland (2017).

TL; DR: a time-travel story that makes a LOT of sense (though not quite completely). If Stephenson and Galland (S&G) write a sequel, I will definitely get it.

DODO is an acronym for the Department of Diachronic Operations, which is a bureaucratese way of saying time travel (dia = "through"; chronic = "time"). Dr. Melisandre Stokes literally bumps into DODO's chief liason, Major Tristan Lyons, while he is exiting her boss' office in the Harvard University language department. Tristan was looking for a language researcher with a wide range of older languages but had been basically ejected from Dr. Roger Blevin's office because of his peculiar demands. Fortunately on Melisandre's side, she had been rather unhappy with her minimized role at Harvard--especially with Blevin's commandeering credit for her work--and was thus willing to at least listen to Tristan's offer.

While Tristan is governmentally standoffish in providing details to Mel (everything and every explanation is "classified" which even included what the acronym DODO stood for), what she does eventually learn is that DODO's primary objective is to figure out why magic--the real stuff involving witches, not magicians--had existed throughout history but eventually disappeared in 1851. I'll leave the full explanation of that to S&G, but eventually this leads to an encounter with an eccentric genius from MIT who had tried to create a device which might allow magic to operate in the 21st century despite those problems, but of course his main problem in getting this device to fully work was the lack of any current practioners. Even though there are plenty of witches still around--in fact that MIT eccentric's wife is a descendant of one of the Salem witches who stood trial in the 1690's--there is no one now who is practiced in witchcraft when Mel is contacted by someone who claims to know Mel and Tristan and DODO, AND says she is a witch. While understandably put off by someone they dismiss as a crank (though wondering how anyone outside their small circle could have even the slightest notion of what DODO is up to), Mel and Tristan eventually meet with Erzebet Karpathy who is an elderly woman living in a nearby hospice. Erzebet tells Melisandre that she had talked to Mel in 1851 (time travel, remember?) before the magic had gone away, explaining that Erzebet and her mother had cast a long-life spell which had allowed her to last to about 180 years old while undergoing considerable efforts to avoid being noticed by the authorites or "The Today Show" for her extreme old age.

While put off by her rather commandeering presence but having no other explanation of Erzebet knowing about DODO, Mel and Tristan decide to allow her into their relatively small experimental device which rather ironically requires a huge amount of high-tech gear to create that small space for Erzebet to practice her magic, which she performs spectacularly because she emerges from the chamber rejuvenated into the body of a gorgeous 20ish woman (Erzebet would have explained this as just returning herself to what she had been at that age).

Naturally the bureaucrat in Tristan requires Erzebet to conduct a long series of trivial experiments--changing the color of something from red to blue--until his commanding general comes to the DODO offices asking if Erzebet can do anything "real" like travel through time. She obliges, sending that general back to a 16th century Hungarian village close to the one in which she grew up during the early 19th century. There are complications because her magic could only send back his actual body which meant that EVERYTHING not part of his body like his clothing, his dentures and fillings, his artificial leg, and his pacemaker were left here, but there was a short passage that appeared in Wikipedia reporting about a naked, aged, one-legged warlock who suddenly appeared in the town square speaking only gibberish (unfortunately that general knew no Hungarian). He was quickly burned to death.

Having demonstrated this ability though in a rather tragic episode (the general was memorialized as having died in line of duty), the story of DODO can really begin.

Let me use this small example of how the novel makes some sense of time travel. One part describes how people are being sent back in time and then returned to current day, but the process is somewhat complicated by how if a time-traveler spends, say, 6 days back in time then she would be returned only 6 days following departure. Naturally there is an effort to get the witches (because a witch in the past is required to return the traveler to the present) to "time-compress" the journey by sending her back to a point only minutes if not seconds after departure. Erzebet reacts to this notion with absolute horror, so it is only through a lot of cajoling that an explanation emerges: the witches consider the two spells to be completely different. While the spell to send someone through time takes a lot more effort and study to be performed correctly, the spell to return someone to their original timeline is seen as just that: a restoration spell returning a person to her proper time. If the traveler had aged 6 days during her time-travel then her proper time in the present MUST be 6 days following when she left. To do such a time-compression for time travelers would require that witch in the past to create an entirely new spell rather than an "easy" restoration spell.

Part of Erzebet's horror is due to the phenomenon of what is called in the novel "diachronic sheer". While SOME subtle changes in history could be made making use of the so-called butterfly effect, there is something which could be called a "conservation of historic momentum" in which any drastic change in history must be corrected, sometimes with devastating effects surrounding the change. Let's say a time traveler wanted to prevent JFK's assassination by stopping Oswald from getting into the Dallas Book Depository. Diachronic sheer might correct this by causing the front part of that building to explode outward, killing the president (along with a lot of bystanders) and someone--maybe Oswald--would get the blame of setting off that bomb which caused that explosion (because there MUST be an explanation, right?). So from Erzebet's POV any attempt at such time-compression as suggested by others at DODO could result in DODO itself vanishing in an unexplained explosion ("It must've been a gas leak?") to prevent that from happening.

In any case, this is a fun read and I highly recommend it.
The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford (2017).

TL;DR: an alternative history for the Manhattan Project with lots of fascinating insights into the project and WWII from a scientist's POV.

Benford's focus of this story is Karl Cohen (1913-2012) who really was a researcher involved in the Manhattan Project. A doctoral chemist, he considers himself to be extremely lucky to have landed a job as a research assistant to Columbia University professor and recent Noble laurate Harold Urey shortly after Karl's return from France in 1937 after spending a few years continuing his studies at the Sorbonne AND having spent a whirlwind romance with Marthe Malartre whom he married shortly before making the Atlantic crossing back to the US.

After having Cohen play some roles at the very beginning of the Manhattan Project (actually for a couple of years before it even got that name) including being at the meeting with Einstein to help persuade him to write his letter to FDR to begin the uranium research/enrichment programs, Benford makes his first major alteration in history by having Urey and Cohen be much more successful in persuading others to go with the centrifuge systems they were advocating to separate the usable U-235 from U-238. In reality a gas diffusion process was the method used to separate enough U-235 for the test bomb which eventually led to Little Boy being dropped on Hiroshima, but the general consensus was that centrifuges likely could have been more successful had some more research and money been thrown at the problem in combination of a little luck in insights which came shortly following WWII but were technically not unachievable during the 1930s-40s (and, of course, further proof nowadays is that everyone uses centrifuges for U-235 enrichment). It had been generally conceded that had the Manhattan Project gone with centrifuges then Little Boy could have been available for the Allies shortly before the D-Day invasion of which Benford took full advantage (this is not a spoiler since the cover of the book has as its background a simulated newspaper headline screaming "AMERICAN ATOM BOMB ANNIHILATES NAZIS").

Benford pulled in a lot of the famous names involved in the Manhattan Project including quite a number with whom he had personal contacts as he described in his afterword. At one point in his career Benford was interviewed for a position at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory by Edward Teller himself (he got that job), and Benford had asked Teller about his experience in the Manhattan Project.

There is also a family connection since in 2006 Benford married Elizabeth Cohen, the middle child of Karl and Marthe's three girls, so he got to talk to Karl Cohen for a few years before he died in 2012 and had access to Karl's personal and family papers.

In his afterward Benford pointed out that most of the materials that he quoted were accurate except for some minor changes to compensate for his historical alterations.

A game you might play while reading this book is to guess--aside from those time inaccuracies and some precise details--which stories that Benford told here that he only slightly alters from reality and which he explained in his afterword. I was surprised by quite a number.
Throne of Jade (Temeraire, Book 2) by Naomi Novik (2006).

TL;DR: an adequate second book in this series.

This book begins with Britain in a full-blown diplomatic crisis. A delegation from China led by the brother of the current emperor of China, Prince Yongxing, has arrived in London within months following the end of His Majesty's Dragon (reviewed here). They have vehemently objected to Britain's piracy of such a valuable treasure of Temeraire, which from their POV was clearly meant to be an IMPERIAL present to the French Emperor Napoleon being one of the rarest breeds of all dragons, a Celestial, AND especially that Temeraire would be claimed by a lowly captain such as William Laurence. Captain Laurence had been physically separated from Temeraire for over a month with both of them being pressured to give up any connection to or claims on the other, and that Temeraire should be returned to China.

The psychic bonding between a dragon and his rider prove to be too much to be overcome by mere social pressure even with considerably added governmental weight, so eventually it is decided by all that Temeraire and Laurence and some of their flight crew would accompany the Chinese delegation back to China using one of Britain's few dragon transports, a very large ship with a special landing deck that can accommodate several dragons.

The first two-thirds of the book detail their adventures during that voyage which takes place over 8 months, while the last third is about their adventures in China. This is a considerably different country from the rather bureaucracy-encrusted edifice that Europeans had encountered and exploited around the time of OUR Napoleonic Wars. While Novik's China had turned inward during the 16th century as in our history, her China is a still a vibrant economic power in part due to influence of dragons in that society. Novik's history of the world has it that China first "civilized" (domesticated is not quite the right word) dragons about a millennium before the Romans first did so around the time of Jesus Christ. While dragons in Europe are still relatively rare such that nearly all of them are kept out of cities in part due to suspicion that the general populace has for such potentially destructive creatures, dragons in China are practically commonplace and well integrated into Chinese society. The handful of dragons among the Imperials (of which the Celestials are a smaller sub-class) are learned scholars with one even having been a celebrated and well-respected poet in the past. On the other hand Temeraire didn't know how to read except being taught Chinese by Prince Yongxing during their voyage to China.

It is this backdrop of the lives of dragons in China in sharp contrast to their rather brutal existence as merely essential war materiel in Europe that Laurence finds himself at odds with himself trying to convince Temeraire to leave China with him while they are all awaiting the return and eventual judgment of the Chinese emperor.

Needless to say there are also plots and intrigues underfoot which are only partially detected by and eventually revealed to Laurence and Temeraire and company.

So not quite as good as His Majesty's Dragon, but just to keep up with that book would have been a tall order.
Although she’s one of my favorite writers, I never got around to read Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, but seeing that Netflix went and made a show based from it, I wanted to read it first. It’s a pretty great read, as are most of her works, although I think the Blind Assassin is still my favorite, while I think most critics prefer the other. It’s historical fiction, but told in a southern gothic style and that’s all I’ll say, since the plot plays out in a great fashion if you have no other expectations from it. Highly recommended.
Tor Books has another e-book for free. Like most others Truthwitch by Susan Dennard is the first of a now-three book series. It is part of Tor Teen Books and as a result to get the download you will be signing up for their Tor Teen Newsletter which is NOT the same as their monthy newsletter.

Also this offer is good only until 11:59 pm EST TONIGHT (December 13th), so you will have to sign up soon AND get the download before then.
user Stupid cockwomble
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signed up for it - i like free books - but they took so damn long to send the email i missed the deadline
user posted:
signed up for it - i like free books - but they took so damn long to send the email i missed the deadline

Hmm. I got a reply within the minute, but maybe their mail servers weren't quite as busy when I did that.
Not a book that I've read--"The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley--but an article that should be read: "The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser".

EDIT: link corrected. Sorry, mauvir.

Last edited by DEyncourt on Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:05 pm.

maurvir Steamed meat popsicle
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You might check the link. The current one 404's.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (2016).

TL;DR: I like this book even though this is specifically a teens title. I am about 1/3rd the way through. So far there has been IMPLIED romance but no sex, implied or otherwise (well, except for there being children).

Dennard's world is a medieval one with a mixture of "witchery" which are based on the traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water, with two additional elements of aether and void. Some SMALL percentage--not sure if this may be 5 or 25%--of the population have a specific form of witchery AND of various qualities. A Windwitch (based on air, of course) can use air to push people aside but another could have full command of the weather.

Iseult is a Threadwitch (aether) with which she can see the "threads" between people which bind them together or force them apart. About 3 years before the book begins she had an as-yet-not-fully-explained encounter with Safiya, the titled Truthwitch (aether), during which one of them saves the life of the other thus forever binding them together. Since then they have had a series of adventures mostly running various scams trying to take advantage of their witcheries.

A Truthwitch has the ability of knowing when a person is lying or not. While Safiya and Iseult have used the former's witchery, where a Truthwitch can be exceedingly valuable is as one of the negotiators between countries. It is such that the very few Truthwitches had been the targets of assassinations and kidnappings.

Naturally Safiya has no interest in being subjected to that.

There are, of course, considerable intrigues going on around the pair which they and the reader are only partly aware of. It turns out that Safiya is--or will be when she comes of age--the domna (head) of her relatively small household which is now under the control of her domineering uncle (though under the mutual agreement of both Safiya and her uncle). Through a series of complex events she is introduced to formal society at a party being held in the capital at which it is announced that Safiya will become the betrothed to the older emperor (Safiya was a childhood friend of the son of that emperor 9 years before the book started).

For Safiya this is a complete trap. What better way to have control over a Truthwitch than marrying her? Despite the considerable care with which she attempted to hide her Truthwitchery, apparently someone--I think Dennard wants her readers to think Safiya's uncle since he had expressed the sentiment of "duty calls" to her, but I think it will turn out to be Iseult because isn't that the sort of betrayal that could threaten to break a friendship only to bind the friends more tightly together?--had informed the imperial household.

On the other hand: doesn't this sound familiar? Perhaps Richelle Mead had the advantage over Dennard in that I read Mead's "Vampire Academy" first, but: a pair of young women on the run for some time get thrust back into society where it is revealed that one of the women is the head of a noted family within that society AND possesses a rare talent. And these women are bonded together through not only their shared adventures while on the run but through a psychic link by one saving the life of the other. It is almost as if there was a contest for writers somewhere: "OK, you can set up whatever world you want but you have to use the traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water although you can add others if you wish. Your primary protagonists will be two young women: GO!"

This might be a standard formula for teen/young adult fiction with which I was unfamiliar, but reading Truthwitch has made this obvious on an almost beat-by-beat basis (so far).

Dennard is a good enough writer that I did like Iseult and Safiya's relationship from the very start (although at the point I am in this book it is something of puzzle of how they will get back together), and probably I will read the other two books in this series (so Tor Books' strategy here worked).
If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman you should know that starting on Christmas BBC4 will be broadcasting throughout the world a six FIVE-part audio adaptation of his "Anansi Boys" which will added to each day until December 30th. The episodes will be available for a month following broadcast.

EDIT: correction from @neilhimself. There will be six roughly half-hour long episodes but the finale on December 30th will combine two of them together.

I am playing the first part--which was being performed live--NOW.

Last edited by DEyncourt on Mon Dec 25, 2017 11:35 pm.

Anyone interested in The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. might check into BookBub which offering an e-book version for only $2.99 for a limited time.

Likewise American Gods by Neil Gaiman--reviewed here--for the same $2.99 for a limited time. I believe that this is the "preferred author's text" version as opposed to the original one.
DEyncourt posted:
If you are a fan of Neil Gaiman you should know that starting on Christmas BBC4 will be broadcasting throughout the world a six FIVE-part audio adaptation of his "Anansi Boys" which will added to each day until December 30th. The episodes will be available for a month following broadcast.

EDIT: correction from @neilhimself. There will be six roughly half-hour long episodes but the finale on December 30th will combine two of them together.

I am playing the first part--which was being performed live--NOW.

There is also a similar dramatic reading of Pratchett & Gaiman's Good Omens which was originally recorded/broadcast in December 2014 but is being rebroadcast starting today with part 1 of to-be-116 available.

Gaiman on how he and Sir Terry wrote Good Omens.

EDIT: <sigh>

Last edited by DEyncourt on Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:28 am.

<grumble> What I had been listening to was ANOTHER BBC4 program for 45 minutes, expecting that at SOME point the dramatization would begin.

Anansi Boys is not quite available YET. On the other hand Good Omens IS.
Ah, the time zone difference got me: the BBC4 will broadcast "Anansi Boys" starting at 11:30 pm London time and THEN making it available "shortly" afterwards, so after 4 pm PST.

They are also rebroadcasting for a limited time Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendevous with Rama" in two hour-long parts.
The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett (2017).

Given that Sir Terry died in 2015, this is a REpublication of an anthology of short stories written by a YOUNG Terry Prachett when he was around 20 while working for newspapers and hadn't yet decided to write fiction full-time.

Still ANY Prachett that is new to you (as all but one of these stories were to me) is a good thing. These stories are full of whimsy though I'm sure that even at the time these were first printed there were likely some people who objected to their sometimes darker nature.

The e-book version is also on sale at BookBub for $1.99 (regularly $9.99) for a limited time.
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DEyncourt posted:
The e-book version is also on sale at BookBub for $1.99 (regularly $9.99) for a limited time.

Snagged it.
Apparently Amazon is having a one-day (on December 30th, perhaps only applicable to the US and Canada) sale for John Scalzi's "The Collapsing Empire" (admittedly sketchily reviewed here) at $2.99 for the Kindle edition.
I finished Truthwitch.

I was bothered by the description of the climatic battle at the end of the book (though NOT the end of the story as this definitely part 1 in a series). Particularly since Dennard was dealing with inhuman powers held by various forms of witches (a Windwitch, a Bloodwitch, an Ironwitch, none of which I'll describe any further, leaving it to you to discover on your own when you read this novel), I thought that she failed by inadequately describing the details of the fighting. Even if a writer is describing a form of fighting that may not be common, there should be enough that is common for HUMAN fighting in general that a very detailed description MAY not be required. On the other hand when a writer has created inhuman powers of her own devising she really should put in many more details, perhaps even close to the point of boring herself because the reader will not have ANY of that information.

Still, I liked the close companionship of Iseult and Safiya that I have voted with my wallet and have the second book, "Windwitch", on order as my local Barnes & Noble did not have that novel on its shelves.

Before you ask: no, there isn't any local specialty bookstores since the LA branch of Mysterious Galaxy closed a couple of years ago. I think my closest SF/fantasy bookstore might be is Dark Delicacies located in Pasadena North Hollywood some 30 miles north of me AND across some of the worst of LA traffic at ANY time of the day that the store would be open. If I were to go to that store, it would be my first time.

I have been told that the third book of this series will be hitting the shelves in February 2017 2018.

EDIT: bah, new year.

Last edited by DEyncourt on Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:00 pm.

W00T! I have in my hands a copy of Charles Stross' latest part of his Merchant Princes series, Dark State.

You might compare the publication date posted at Amazon compared to the date of this post.

ALL other reading and activities to be put aside until finished. My apologies to Lisa Randall (Warped Passages).
Dark State by Charles Stross (2018).

While the synopsis at Amazon calls Stross' Empire Games "the start to Stross' new story-line, and perfect entry point for new readers", I will have to beg to differ: to get a FULL appreciation of what Stross has written a reader should start with The Bloodline Feud which is the first volume of the Merchant Princes trilogy (which was originally published in a hexalogy though not under that last title).

Dark State takes up the story immediately following Empire Games, and the one of the last pages in the new novel states that "Invisible Sun" will be published in January 2019.

To repeat, this vision of America in 2020 is a deeply paranoid one. Just to get a flavor, here are some of the ruminations about living in this version of America by one of the PERIPHERAL characters:
Last year's tinfoil hat was this year sartorial good taste. The act of popping out a battery from your phone might activate the tiny microphone and GSM phone stage built into the battery itself, prompting it to phone home to the NSA and relay your private conversation if you were a person of interest. There were chips in credit and debit cards for securing your accounts. Rumor had it that Visa and Mastercard also carried embedded microphones, powered by capacitors energized every time you used an ATM, recording everything and transmitting it back to the government via the banking network. Metal door keys were going out of fashion (a distant camera snapshot and a 3-D printer made it disturbingly easy to fake up a blank). But how could you be sure that the shiny new proximity lock on your front door wasn't recording your movements and listening to your conversations?

On the other hand there are some gems of Stross's humor. His BLACK humor. This was part of one of the main character's reactions of having to give a post-mission debriefing:
The worst part wasn't lying about the presence of world-walking murderers in the dangerously developing time line next door, but figuring out diplomatic responses to the more inane questions. "But, Ms. Douglas, surely there was some sign of the Church of Scientology being present?" Or, "Is the Book of Mormon known to them?" She was a good girl: she did not laugh in anybody's face, or exercise sarcasm or irony.

The latter are admittedly somewhat sparser than can be found in Stross' other books.

Of course my problem NOW is that I will have to wait a year before the final installment of this trilogy, though I believe that sometime mid-year Stross will publish the next installment in his Laundry Files series.
Black Powder War (Temeraire, Book 3) by Naomi Novik (2006).

Hah! I knew it: in the brief biography on Ms. Novik on the inside back cover, Patrick O'Brian (so undoubtedly his Aubrey/Maturin series) is mentioned as one of her inspirations for her Temeraire series.

Black Powder War takes up Captain Laurence and Temeraire's story soon after the conclusion of the previous book, Throne of Jade (reviewed here). An accidental fire has laid up the Allegiance--the British dragon transport ship which was returning Temeraire and his flight crew to England--in the port of Macao for extensive repairs when a secret message finally catches up with Laurence there. In that message he has been commanded by the head of the British Aerial Corps to make haste to Constantinople where Laurence will be placed in charge of three dragon eggs purchased from the Sultan of Turkey and to be returned to Britain ASAP. Naturally Laurence wonders about the necessity for him and Temeraire to make this pick up: are there not British ships and other dragons available from either Malta or Gibraltar which would be much closer to Constantinople than Laurence could possibly have been even there has been no fire? Nonetheless, duty calls, so over the protests of some of his fellow officers Laurence decides that he and his flight crew will make a cross-country trip somewhat following the Silk Roads to Constantinople. Now to find a trustworthy guide....

This book is set in three parts: the first being a travelog of Temeraire and his crew across Asia into Turkey; the second taking place in Constantinople; and the last being their adventures northward across eastern Europe (mostly Prussia). I am not well-versed in the Napoleonic Wars, but Novik specifically had set that last third of the book for the late summer to early winter of 1806 to coincide with the fall of most of Prussia--which was allied with Britain--to Napoleon. While making some inclusions of the aerial war between the opposing dragon forces, in her afterword she mentions that she was following much of Napoleon's actual military movements during those particular months.

This is a considerably sobering look from a different perspective of the Napoleonic Wars than Temeraire has had up to now. With his youthful enthusiam, he had been ready to win the war for Britain all by himself (perhaps with SOME support from the British Navy), but now he is forced to consider the horrible complexity of tens of thousands of troops with cavalry and artillery AND dragons engaged across tens of miles in a series of land battles, AND with Temeraire sometimes narrowly escaping with the consistently losing side.

AND there are, of course, other complications....

I have the next book, Empire of Ivory, waiting on my to-be-read shelf.
Artemis by Andy Weir (2017).

TL; DR: an enjoyable though flawed sophomore novel by the author of the "The Martian".

Taking place about 50+ years from now, the title is the name of the town located about 40 km south of Tranquility Base on the Moon. While catering a clientele of multibilllionaires and others not quite as wealthy taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this solitary installation on the Moon, the majority of the 4,000 people living in the several multi-leveled domes of Artemis are the staff required to support those travelers (nearly all of whom take the train trip to the Tranquility Base Observatory) and to support each other.

Jazz (short for Jasmine) Bashara is a 19-year-old woman, the sole child of Amman Bashara, a widowed professional metalworker who emigrated to the Moon a decade before the start of the novel. Frankly Jazz is rather a disappointment to her father who sees her as a brilliant woman clearly not living up to her potential. Jazz ekes out a living as a porter which is an all-purpose delivery service for anyone placing orders for materials to be shipped from Earth to Artemis. By chance during her time in school she became a penpal with another student on Earth who upon graduation got on the staff at KSC (the Kenyan Space Center) as a payload specialist-in-training, so Jazz also has created a thriving side-business of smuggling illegal/questionable contraband into Artemis through that contact.

And that is JUST the set-up for a rather wild (though--as far as I can tell--scientifically accurate) ride involving some unexpected elements and twists for Jazz AND the reader.

Most of the narrative is as if Jazz is talking directly to the reader telling her story. While that type of narrative was absolutely required for much of "The Martian", in "Artemis" some of the conversations between the characters are a bit stilted and were geared towards (sometimes) obvious jokes, but let me make it clear that I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Artemis" despite those flaws.
Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, A Through F".

Female science fiction and fantasy writers who started in that decade, and some recommendations of where to start reading them.
Tor Books has TWO e-books for free (AKA sign up for their newsletter) available through this link, although you must FIRST sign up to receive their newsletter here before being able to use the first link.

The books are Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell (2015) and Killing Gravity by Corey White (2017). Both are the first volumes of multi-book series. I do not know either author or any of their writing.

These will be available for downloads in either epub (for Apple) or mobi (for Kindle) format through 12:00 midnight EST February 2nd (based on the previous offers, this means 9:00 pm PST February 1st).
"2017 Locus Recommended Reading List ".

<sigh> I have read only 4 of the books (there are also novellas and short stories in this list), though I do have 3 on my to-be-read shelf.
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