At least, one may hope that we’re now done with high temperatures for the year. Both weekend days have got to 80 or thereabouts. I managed some yardwork yesterday, and a washing of the car today. Certainly not an interesting weekend by any stretch of the imagination.
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Recent Reading –
Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam
In this latest Discworld book, pTerry brings back Moist von Lipwig and Harry King as chief protagonists in this tale of steam locomotives. Aided by The Patrician, The Low King, and an unexpectedly large assist from the recently ascendant goblins, von Lipwig battles extraordinary logistics problems and a recidivist dwarvish community who lay most of their problems at the feet of Ankh Moorpark and upon Moist’s head as an accessible and vulnerable symbol thereof.
Self-taught engineer Dick Simnel solves the most fatal of issues with steam engines, and ushers in a new future on the Disc, and in doing so brings a host of problems to the surface as well. Harry King (at first) and Moist von Lipwig (shortly thereafter, following the usassailable logic provided by Lord Vetinari) guide and protect Mister Simnel along the path (one might say, rails) that Vetinari wants and needs.
Initially distinct plots quickly coalesce into a fast, absorbing and rollicking read that held me right on through the book. As usual with the work of the estimable Mister Pratchett, Highly Recommended.
Unidentified Funny Objects 2, edited by Alex Shvartsman
From the editorial submission page: “We’re looking for speculative stories with a strong humor element. Think Resnick and Sheckley, Fredric Brown and Douglas Adams. We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny.”
I met Alex Shvartsman at Capclave last year, and picked up a copy of Unidentified Funny Objects 2 from him. I finally dug out my stack of reading material from that event, and quickly found myself absorbed in this excellent anthology of new, original works by such authors as Silverberg, Liu, Reznick, Hines, Nye, and fourteen others. I smiled, giggled, and laughed my way through the nearly 300 pages of nicely bound trade paperback. I enjoyed meeting the stories from each of these authors, both old friends and new (to me, anyway) arrivals. If you like Science Fiction and Humor, this is definitely up your alley, as it was mine. I’m looking forward to UFO3, due out in the upcoming week (but I’ll wait and get my copy from Alex in a couple of weeks). Excellent!
Gordon R. Dickson’s Necromancer
Paul Formain, a survivor of the first water, most recently rendered one-armed due to a mining accident, contends with Walter Blunt of the Chantry Guild, and with the super computer that runs Earth. His metaphysical powers make him both the lynchpin of the changes that society is undergoing, and a target of every party that’s interested in a different agenda. Later tales in Dickson’s Childe Cycle stories reveal a bit more about Paul Formain than appears in this book. Necromancer is a superbly constructed tale (as usual for Dickson, then) that allows for the suspension of disbelief both for the SciFi and Fantastic elements in the story. While the story stands well on it’s own, I must recommend ALL of the Childe Cycle stories to you. Find them. Read them. Be Happy.
Clarkesworld Magazine, edited by Neil Clarke
I’ve been a subscriber to Clarkesworld Magazine for a couple of years now. Neil Clarke puts together a world-class collection of new science fiction, as well as reprints, non-fiction, and art, every time. How do I mean, “world-class”? Hmm. How to put this to you … Three time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. Does that cover it properly? I thought so.
I look forward to the first of each month so that I can discover what Neil found for me to read. My particular favorite story from the current (September) batch is Brendan Dubois’s Falling Star. It’s a tightly constructed post-apocalyptic short story that features one of the last of the astronauts as the protagonist. I can’t say much more without spoiling some part of the tale.
In related news, Neil announced that his recent secret project is a push to get more translated works into the magazine, explicitly from China at first. The initial funding is being done through Kickstarter, with the intention of building more readership and other revenue sources to carry the feature going forward. Visit the Clarkesworld: Chinese Science Fiction Translation Project page for more details, and to support it if you can and if it floats your boat.
Clarkesworld Magazine: Highly Recommended.
Oh, I nearly forgot! I’m currently reading Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks.
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There have been no new casualties announced by DoD in the last 6 days.