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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Barrayar

Posted on 2017.10.02 at 16:36
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Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7)Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'm continuing to reread -- by listening -- Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, and once again finding myself delighted by its mix of solid space opera, warm humanity, and flashes of wry humor.

Barrayar is the "origin story" (literally!) for Miles Vorkosigan himself. Of course, this being set on Barrayar, there has to be a conspiracy, an attempted assassination, a civil war, and various other obstructions to his arrival on the planet.

The Audible audio edition -- voiced by the same reader as Shards of Honor -- is clear and well-produced, without a lot of distracting bells & whistles.






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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: The Delirium Brief

Posted on 2017.09.29 at 16:36
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The Delirium Brief (Laundry Files, #8)The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Stross pulls out all the stops -- & many of his previous story arcs -- for this eighth entry in the Laundry Files series. Bob Howard is back as the main protagonist at last, & he has Serious Eldritch Problems. In fact, the entire UK has Serious Eldritch Problems, and the United States isn't doing too well either. (Yes, there did seem to be a few sideways political comments -- but they never got in the way of Stross's storytelling.)

The Delirium Brief suffers from a few too many characters to keep track of, but otherwise delivers the most satisfying Laundry experience I can remember having for at least the past few novels. Plot descriptions would be too much of a spoiler, here, but suffice it to say that you really should read #1-7 before even thinking about trying this one.

This is a "stars turn right" apocalypse tale that pushes its Lovecraft/le Carre flavor to the limit -- with an ending that left me wondering exactly what Stross intends to do with his Laundry universe next. And, of course, determined to preorder Laundry Files #9, because I really have to find out.








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DEquinox

SFPA Poetry Contest winners announced

Posted on 2017.09.28 at 11:55
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The winners of the 2017 SFPA Speculative Poetry Contest were announced today. Almost 350 entries were received in three categories (dwarf-length, short, & long), from a remarkably diverse and international group of poets.

Three prizes will be awarded in each category. All placing poems will be published on both the SFPA website and the StarShipSofa podcast!

For all the winners, their brief biographies, and a bit more explanation, check here:


https://specpo.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/2017-sfpa-speculative-poetry-contest-winners-announced/

[Full disclosure: Yours Truly did enter the contest this year, but will not be found on the list of winners.]

DEquinox

on this date in 1888 . . .

Posted on 2017.08.31 at 13:37
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first spatter
of a cold rain
Buck's Row


-- Ann K. Schwader

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_the_Ripper#Canonical_five

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the first time I've listened to Shards of Honor rather than reading it, and it may have made the experience even better. (Or at least easier to fit into a busy summer!)

Shards is the opening volume of Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. Without spoiling any of the plot for first-time readers, suffice it to say that it offers a remarkable, character-driven space opera read, with a central (but never intrusive) romance between two actual grown-ups. It also has some of the loveliest ending lines of any SF novel around.

Lois McMaster Bujold just won a Best Series Hugo Award for these books. It was richly deserved.






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DEquinox

Spectral Realms #7 now available!

Posted on 2017.08.16 at 13:17
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Just in time for H.P. Lovecraft's birthday (August 20th), Spectral Realms #7 is now available from Hippocampus Press http://tinyurl.com/ya8xglow . Edited by S.T. Joshi, this latest issue of the twice-yearly journal of weird verse offers over 120 pages of poems and related articles from old hands and newer practitioners.


Contributing poets include Richard L. Tierney, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, John Shirley, Ashley Dioses, K.A. Opperman, David Barker, F.J. Bergman, and Yours Truly -- among others. (Full disclosure: I have three poems in this issue, all previously unpublished.)


Spectral Realms is published in attractive trade paperback format, with a classic Gustave Doré cover this time around.

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: I Am Legend

Posted on 2017.08.02 at 15:36
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I Am LegendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Though this classic post-apocalypse thriller is showing its age a little (especially, to me, in its view of women), it was still an amazing read. Though generally spoken of as a horror novel, it's actually pure SF at its bones. The vampire theme allows Matheson to examine human nature in the face of the unthinkable, although some of the ways this works itself out have since become standard in this sub-genre.

Though the book is short, it's worth slowing down once in a while to savor the stark beauty of some of its prose. It's also interesting to think about all the fiction this book has probably spawned: The Passage came immediately to mind.

Psychologically effective and still chilling after all these years -- a great choice for late summer reading in nervous times.



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DEquinox

48 years ago, on a satellite near you . . .

Posted on 2017.07.20 at 12:41
the lost art
of looking up
moon dust footprints


-- Ann K. Schwader

http://tinyurl.com/ybg4y63m

DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Livia Lone

Posted on 2017.07.17 at 16:12
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Livia Lone (Livia Lone #1)Livia Lone by Barry Eisler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a fast-paced, fascinating, but disturbing thriller centered on human trafficking and its fallout. The title character is a survivor turned sex crimes detective -- with a vigilante streak a mile wide. Eisler never lets the reader forget that Livia is both highly competent and seriously damaged, and offers plenty of evidence for both traits.

I found the plot itself a little predictable, though it still kept me reading. And, occasionally, not wanting to. I hadn't expected this one to be an easy or completely pleasant read, and it definitely wasn't. Livia's skills are a wonder (possibly slightly unbelievable, but we are talking thrillers here), and her cause is just, but there are a few scenes I won't be able to un-see for a while.

The Kindle edition includes helpful chapter-by-chapter notes with links to online articles and video. Most of these relate to Livia's martial arts training and weapons, though there are a couple of articles on actual crimes which inspired the fiction. There is also a bibliography (with links) for those wishing to educate themselves further about human trafficking, police investigation techniques, and other topics.

Possibly recommended for thriller fans looking for an informative, intense read.




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DEquinox

My Goodreads review: Certain Dark Things

Posted on 2017.07.04 at 16:15
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Certain Dark ThingsCertain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you're looking for some remarkable worldbuilding in a fast-paced vampire adventure, this might be your next summer read.

Certain Dark Things has a vaguely YA flavor, but with a harder edge and a refreshing swap of the usual roles. In this one, the sympathetic human caught up in a dangerous alliance with a powerful-yet-wounded vampire is a young male, and the P-Y-W is female, the last survivor of a clan of indigenous Mexican vampires dating back to pre-Columbian times.

Moreno-Garcia makes the grittier aspects of Mexico City vibrantly clear, and the plot is a well-crafted chase-and-vengeance item with drug cartels that might be lurking in the back pages of tomorrow's paper. What made this a rewarding read for me, however, was the depth and international diversity of its vampire subculture. Make that subcultures: there are nearly a dozen subspecies, and a glossary worth the price of admission all by itself.

I for one am hoping to read more in this carefully constructed world.










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