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Curried Goat in a paper cup
16 June 2018 @ 06:46 pm
24) "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen" - Lois McMaster Bujold

I expect more action from Bujold, so I kept waiting for the actual story to start, but instead this was all relationship, with lots of conversations. About babies, mostly. eh, not really my thing. But it was a sweet love story about two people coming back together again after three years apart and trying to establish themselves as a relationship after having lost their third. They had been a poly V and their fulcrum person passed away. And they want to have his babies. Almost seemed like fanfic, really. I've read so much baby fanfic.

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
08 June 2018 @ 09:59 am
(yes, the timing seems weird on this because I thought I had finished the issue, I picked up "Witches Abroad" and read that, and then today went back and read the book review column in the back of this issue.)

23) Asimov's, May/June 2018

I have mixed feelings about how Asimov's is going, these days. They often tend to buy serialized short stories, and I've been happy with that when I liked the author. (Oh how I wish Kage Baker were still alive! They published all her cyborg stories, and I loved seeing those characters return, Joseph and Louis especially. In one story I swear they almost seem to be spoofing Good Omens style, with Joseph as Crowley and Louis as the sort of kyewt-boi Aziraphale in the style of sixteen-year-old fangirls. Amusing possibly only to me and other fanfic readers! But I digress...) But lately they've hooked into a lot of serieses from particular authors who's styles are very flat on the characterization. I apparently need be able to relate to someone in a story, go figure. So when there's a high percentage of those all appearing in the same issue it gets kind of dull for me. I have to admit, when those "Terminus" stories appear (they are always in pairs) I generally skim through them very quickly. I mean, it makes sense, that they feel like sitting in an airport terminal, because these are the back stories for a bunch of characters waiting in a spaceport terminal, but... I avoid talking to people on planes, too.

It gets particularly frustrating, though, when you see something almost make a mark and then fall short by really just not trying. There were some weird omissions in "The Wandering Warriors" by Rick Wilber and Alan Smale, for instance. It was all pretty self-indulgent: A baseball team from the late 1940s goes back to ancient Rome, summoned by a spell or prayer of an empress (hand-wavy bullshit) and plays ball in the Colosseum. But what really got me was when, near the end of the story, we hear that the team has actually been touring towns around Rome, whereas up until that point it had appeared that they'd been kept in the one training building in the city. It's so patchy and obvious that they didn't even try to make the story flow. I can't EVEN. Sheesh, if you don't want to take the effort to think about it yourself, post it for a few million fans to read over and pay attention to their comments before you publish. AO3 works great for this, guys. Especially as they're clearly writing fanfic for the series that the main character viewpoint is from, the baseball player/spy that Asimov's has published a bunch of (similarly emotionally flat) stories about. Frankly, if they'd shoved him into a background position or eliminated him entirely and focused on the other main viewpoint character, Quentin, I'd have been happier. Quentin is one of the two black players on the team, and they have to pretend they are from Cuba, when they are touring the US, and still can't get served in a lot of restaurants in the '40s. The authors took the time to point out that the ancient Romans seem way less racist, but don't actually find a way to work this in so that anything happens with it in the story. There was this kernel of possibility there, if they'd only taken time to explain things more (random god nobody's ever heard of moves them back in time in response to prayer and then it all doesn't work anyway? What??) and develop some character and emotional depth.

However, and in some balance to that, I just finished reading the book review and was kind of interested in how the reviewer (Norman Spinrad), instead of coming out and saying he hated this or liked that, instead wrote an essay in which he mentioned all three books he had to read, but the essay was really about the evolution of time travel and alternate reality/alternate history stories, beginning with Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court" and touching on "The Man In The High Castle" by Philip K. Dick. The books he had to read were "Tropic of Kansas" (Christopher Brown), "The Genius Plague" (David Walton) and "The Berlin Project" (Gregory Benford), and by the end he made me want to read "The Berlin Project" and avoid "Tropic of Kansas" at all costs, without ever actually saying anything bad about Brown. So, yes, Norman Spinrad, everybody. (And because I am me, here's my crit on his crit: I do notice that he repeated himself - yes, I am ADD, I got it the first time, move on - and also that he used the same word - "chez" - many times. He does read in French, so I should not presume to criticize the context in which he uses it, but I thought the French phrase we usually use in English to mean 'in the style of' was 'a la'. All in all, though, not much crit on an essay that enthralled me.)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
07 June 2018 @ 09:59 am
22) "Witches Abroad" - Pratchett

A re-read, of course, and it possibly delighted me even more this time. The whole backstory to Baron Samedi is pretty cool. He doesn't seem to have a back story in this world.

There's lovely symmetry in "Witches Abroad". Pratchett mentions early on in a seemingly casual way that the Ogg family has feuds within it, but they close ranks to protect each other against outsiders. Then family being at odds, yet coming together to protect each other, becomes a theme at the end. Similarly, Magrat is in a "needing to find herself" moment just before the beginning of the book, and it's contrasted to Granny Weatherwax always knowing who she herself is. She starts studying martial arts through materials she sent away for, and there's all these lovely footnotes and discussions about people always searching for mystical knowledge far from home, and then they go on this journey, and then Magrat finds herself... and it's a primal moment, it's not something she could have studied. And then Granny has to find herself, too, but that's kind of a foregone conclusion as we already know Granny always knows who she is. :)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
24 May 2018 @ 08:43 am
21) "The Atrocity Archives" - Charles Stross

I'm going to call it one book. It's billed as "A Laundry Files Novel" in some places, but the two-thirds of the 'volume' I read (on my Nook) was "The Atrocity Archive" while the last 1/3 was "The Concrete Jungle". Holy crap, I just went and looked up "The Laundry Files" series on GoodReads and there are nine books. "The Concrete Jungle" is book 1.5. Sooo.... okay, he's really not into worrying about clear-cut 'books'. I'm down with that. I get to read seven more books about Bob the Hacker who fights Lovecraftian horrors? I'm okay with that, too. :)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
18 May 2018 @ 12:53 pm
20) "Noir" - Christopher Moore

Another tremendously fun book that pulled me right along, therefore putting me two one ahead of the 1-book-per-week goal, as this is week 18 19. [ETA: dammit, I read the calendar wrong, this is week 19.]

Very dark humor, and as inappropriate as he ever is. :) So let me see if I can do a quick synopsis without giving anything away...

Regular guy gets embroiled in events he doesn't really understand because of his smart-ass mouth and Men In Black... um, nope, it's hard not to give anything away. There is a dame! But typical of Moore, she's not manipulative. :)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
14 May 2018 @ 10:35 am
19) "Will Save The Galaxy For Food" - Yahtzee Croshaw (Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, as we learn in the 'about the author' in the back cover.)

This was a tremendously fun book that kept me pulled right along. Star pilots are all out of work because of the invention of an instantaneous transfer technology. Previously they had all been trailblazers and spent their time rescuing one planet after another from The Malmind, but that seems to be all over, now. Earth is one huge terrorized mega-state that has given up all civil rights to fight terrorism, and is actually ruled by an organized crime boss (who's skin is orange, oddly). His son runs off with the daughter of the president of Earth. Action revolves around an out of work star pilot and the former personal assistant to the mob boss. Hijinx ensue.

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
13 May 2018 @ 07:37 pm
Which for us means a lot of hard work on the yard, garden, and often in our wooded areas. During the winter a large pine (30 - 40 feet tall, two trunks, the larger one close to two feet in diameter) had come down during one of the wind storms, near the fence which we've always thought of as our property line. When we got our survey done we discovered that in fact where the pine's roots were was just about on the property line, so then cleaning it up became our responsibility. And of course that means we have more wood for the fireplace, for '19/'20, so that's good.

So that was most of our day, yesterday, disassembling that tree. There's still a lot of cleanup to do, with branches and twigs all over the place, and so very much dead material which either came from the pine or other trees which it had killed by shading and poisoning them, or which the roses or grapevines had killed. Basically, once we get this sorted out we're going to have mostly a clearing. But today we managed to haul back upright two maples which the pine had bent but apparently not killed, so maybe they will recover and spread and be nice.

The other rather nice feature of that area, and why I'd like to get it cleaned up pretty, is what we call "the wishing well," which is a spring, nicely ringed with rocks. We think we ought to dredge it, because it's a bit mucky, but right now it's pouring water out, even though we haven't had rain for at least a week. (And even that rain a week ago wasn't significant, just a light sprinkle.)

If I'd known before I planted my weeping willow that we owned that area I'd have planted it over the spring. Although, I don't know, do willows choke springs off? If so, it might, still, because I think I put it in the same water course. (Water vein?)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
10 May 2018 @ 12:53 pm
18) "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: March/April 2018"

A good issue, I feel like so many of the stories deserve to be mentioned, and I can't take the time just now. Maybe I'll edit later when I can sit longer. Solid choices about how to order the stories for both satisfaction and to create a desire for more. The next to last story was 'Because Reasons' by Alexandra Renwick - a sweet, sad story of a friendship lost and an excellent analysis of punk sensibilities. The final story, "Bury Me in the Rainbow," by Bill Johnson, is a sequel to a novelette he wrote back in 1977 titled "We Will Drink A Fish Together," which I have not read and now I need to find it, and it implies that more is coming along. Hopefully more quickly! It concerns the doings and business of a community which used to be a Reservation when they're faced with an option of potentially leaving Earth with a group of aliens, and how they work out their conflicts on the decision.

There was also a good article about Fletcher Pratt which makes me want to go find more by him. I've re-read "The Compleate Enchanter" (Pratt with L. Sprague De Camp) several times since I was a kid, it might be past time for more.

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
30 April 2018 @ 08:41 pm
17) "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine: January/February 2018" (Okay, I didn't finish all the book reviews at the back.)

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Curried Goat in a paper cup
26 April 2018 @ 07:21 am
So I just made the mistake of watching the regeneration to the female doctor and the clip ends with her being sucked out the door of the TARDIS as the whole interior goes up in flames, and she's falling through space and toward a planet. WTFH? How does she get out of that one?? I can't find a vid that explains that.

The only other vid that seems available is her walking through a forest in a completely different set of cloths (she seems to have stolen Sherlock's coat and be wearing a hoody under it) and the TARDIS appears. Oh, and she magically materializes a TARDIS key. Does that vid bear any resemblance to what reality now is for The Doctor? Is it now a "Magical Reality" show?

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