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  1. Today
  2. I so thought that "travels before COVID" thing was gonna be one of those scroll-down-and-see-the-Sphinx-in-a-mask jokes…
  3. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North - the debut novel by Claire, for some reason I ended up with an American hardback, and at the back of it clearly states Claire North is a pseudonym. Which has since been clarified, given that she is now about 8 books in? Claire North aka Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb. I've already read The Sudden Appearance of Hope and Touch, and I have 84K and The End of the Day in my to be read pile. I had previously started reading this, but it coincided with some difficult times, and I was struggling to read. With the announcement of planned film, and spending time not buying more books, I decided to get back to it. It follows the formula I'm familiar with in the 2 I have read - establish idea, explore, threaten, push the limits. Harry is dying when approached by a child who advises that the future is ending. The child is like Harry, someone who after they die will wake up back where the started. With this the novel works through the processes - how did Harry discover this, how Harry founds others, how Harry finds the threat, how that threat threatens Harry, phew Harry survives, gosh things get worse. Another good solid page turner, these three 1st novels are really good. My impression is the more recent works move a little from that steady structure, but I'll look forward to seeing. Ghost Frequencies - Gary Gibson - Newcon Press novella, part of series released at Glasgow's Satellite convention, which I realised I hadn't read as I was rearranging shelves. As a novella it is a super quick read. A team of physicists are doing some fringe research with quantum communication equipment, hoping to break new ground. But it is the kind of research that is funded by local billionaire rather than universities. Unfortunately it isn't going well, something is interfering, there are rumours of defunding, and a ghost busting team just turned up to do research in the old mansion which is being refurbished to be a centre of scientific excellence, but also turns out to have a bit of history, which is a hell of run on sentence! I enjoyed, haunted house science fiction novel, good solid page turner, done in a day, sorted. White Cat - Holly Black - been sitting on my kindle for years, ripped through this in no time. Cassel is the black sheep of his family, the only one who isn't a "curse worker". Curse Workers can kill people with a single touch, or change their luck, or change their shape, or control their mind or... Everyone wears gloves, because it is the only way people can be trusted not to put a curse on someone. There is a push to make testing mandatory to identify curse workers, but for now they act like the mob. When Cassel is sent home from boarding school after an incident things start to fall apart, his family hate him for being powerless and for killing his best friend when he was younger, and his presence is clearly interfering with something they aren't telling him about. Thoroughly enjoyed, not quite what I expected, an interesting twist on urban fantasy/crime. Void Black Shadow - Corey J White - ugh fucking ugh. I read the 1st of these and wasn't hugely impressed, made mistake of buying third in paperback for £1, so felt bound to read book 2 to read book 3. I'll rephrase that, these are three novellas, all following the void witch lead character. Space witches should be totally up my street, but the escalating levels of violence put me off and I ended up hate finishing this. At one point it is suggested that the lead character has single handedly massacred more than 23000 people, there is some notional hand waving, before easily doubling that figure without breaking a sweat. There is a cast of characters, which feels potentially like an attempt to have a crew like Becky Chambers pulled off, but they get sidelined at every opportunity, before returning to killing. Fuck this series, just fuck them. Red Moon - Kim Stanley Robinson - another hardback I previously started reading, got distracted from, and have now come back to finish. Fred arrives on the moon, which is dominated by the Chinese, he is an American, working for a Swedish tech company. He is delivering a quantum phone (which amused me having read this so soon after Ghost Frequency), but finds himself a pawn of inter-faction plotting, with the recipient of the phone dying and him being lucky to survive. Ta Shu is an old Chinese poet, a feng shui expert, and now an exotic travel guide, coming to the moon to shoot videos for his show. He befriends Fred as they disembark, and is distressed by Fred's disappearance, using his inside contacts to help. With this Fred is joined by a young Chinese woman, a dissident, daughter of potential new Chinese leader, and first woman to get pregnant on the moon. The novel alternates between Fred and Ta Shu, with occasional shifts from third to first person to deliver Ta Shu's video - a familiar KSR trick for data dumping and shifting, which was also used in New York 2140. As the book progresses our characters go to the moon, go to China, go to the moon, go to China, go to the moon, which starts to feel like a Neal Stephenson novel! The novel is set 50 years after the hand over of Hong Kong to China, the end of the protected period, Chinese leadership is approaching transition, the poor are restless, folk in Hong Kong are restless, there are huge financial protests in America. Hits a lot of KSR's usual key points, is decent enough, but not his best work, particularly given the last two I read by him were New York 2140 and 2312. China Mountain Zhang - Maureen F McHugh - Funny to go from reading Red Moon to China Mountain, it wasn't planned, in same way as I've been conscious of finishing things I've started I've been conscious of trying to get through some of the things I've had sitting for a long time, like White Cat and China Mountain. This is set sometime after Red Moon, a socialist revolution has swept across America, and it is now heavily influenced by China. Such that China is the world power, Americans aspire to be Chinese, and getting to go to China is a big deal. Our lead character is half Chinese, half Hispanic, though has been genetically tweaked (in a process now illegal) to look more Chinese, so to many he is ABC (American Born Chinese), and so better than just regular American. Unfortunately his Chinese name Zhang Zhongshan was picked by over enthusiastic parents, and translates to the embarrassing China Mountain Zhang. The novel is from 1992 and in some ways feels dated, feels like something that wouldn't get published now, but in other ways with the environmental themes and how well it compliments Red Moon it is exactly what a science fiction novel should be, which in itself sometimes feels quaint. The novel follows Zhang as he goes from an engineer in New York, to the North Pole, to University in China, to specialist in China, and back to New York. The learning, the dififculties, particularly for a "bent" man in socialist states where that ranges being frowned on to being a death sentence. The Zhang chapters are oddly interspersed with short stories in the same world, other characters in New York, or on a colony on Mars, where they tie into Zhang's narrative and flesh out the larger picture. I'd read loads of stories by McHugh, she was regularly in the Best SF volumes year after year, so I'd been meaning to read this for a long time, and think it is her 2nd novel I also have sitting in my archives. This was good, worth a read, now one of those SF Classic volumes you can pick up. Desdemona & The Deep - CSE Cooney - another of the tor novella series, as was the fuck ugh above. I have to admit, I initially found this annoying, and it generally irked me for a while. Desdemona is the heir to an industrial empire (no doubt to be married off as a prize at some point), her parents are divorced, so while she lives with her rich father, the novella opens with her roped into helping one of her mother's "causes". In this case it is a fund raiser for the girls who work in the match factory and are brutally disfigured by phosphorous before dying of poisoning. Desdemona is rich and spoiled, the event is lavish and excessive, she is horrified by the hideous women from the factory. Coming home from the event, she catches her father making a deal with a demon, sacrificing his workers to benefit his business. There are three realms, the day for human, the twilight for the gentry and the night for the kobolds, and as it turns out, each of the realms is accessible through her house. Determined to undo her father's work she sets out on a faerie adventure. I am struck by the rise of these kind of industrial fantasy works, I guess shades of steam punk, but factories and magic? Like Bolander's Harmless Great Things and Newman's Industrial Magic novellas, also from tor, and no doubt others. As it goes on I was grudgingly brought round, mostly. The Bird King - G Willow Wilson - Wilson is probably most famous for the creation of Ms. Marvel, the smash hit Pakistani American Muslim super heroine. The Bird King is her 2nd novel, it is similar to her debit Alif The Unseen in that it works with Muslim mythology (Wilson, I understand, is a convert). The novel is said in Europe at the time that Spain became a country instead of a collection of smaller countries, with that the land that is now Andalusia was a Muslim state and is under siege. Fatima is the sultan's favoured concubine, born into the harem, the fact that her mother was pregnant when she was sold having come as a surprise. Fatima is stunning and for a concubine she is influential, but she is still a captive, having sex with the sultan when it suits him. She dreams of being free. Her best friend is Hassan the map maker, who makes maps which are magical. The soldiers arrive to demand surrender and when they learn of Hassan one of the conditions of surrender becomes handing him over to the Inquisition. Fatima grabs Hassan and they make a daring escape, but where do they go? They have told each other the legend of The Bird King for years, in which the king lives on a mysterious island out there - is that something they could find? Or will they die at the hands of the Inquisition? Really enjoyed, just really good and recommended. Demon Bound - Caitlin Kittredge - The 2nd of Kittredge's Black London novels, I picked a number of them having enjoyed her Coffin Hill series, these are her poor man's John Constantine series. This another started previously, put aside, and come back to. I have mixed feelings on the series, unpublished in the UK, no doubt writing to a US audience, it feels at times a little cringey from the UK. All magic is Irish, I don't make the rules, that is just what seems to be the case here - Jack Winter is the Morrigan's crow mage, an ex-junkie, punk singer from Liverpool, um sorry, Manchester, who has sold his soul to a demon. Pete Caldecott is an ex-police officer, who has had run ins with Jack in her youth, and bumping into him again seems to turn out she is a weir, a source of magic. So they survive the 1st novel, spoiler, and have teamed up as grungy exorcists. So big haunted house in the country, wild magic, but time is running out for Jack's soul, so insert random detour to Bangkok, and um... In the end I probably actually enjoyed this more than the 1st, benefiting from mostly not actually being in London. If you've read all the Hellblazer that you can find then this might scratch that itch, just about.
  4. I don't post in here enough. Been re-reading a lot stuff. Currently re-reading Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON: Every character in it is pretty much a jackass, but I still enjoy it and keep re-reading it. Guess that's why it's a classic. Before that I read VIRTUAL LIGHT, part of a lazy re-read cycle of all of Gibson's novels, in order. Before that I tried starting BLACKFISH CITY by Sam J. Miller, but couldn't get into it, even after a couple total start-overs. Moved it down the "to-read" pile a bit so I can come back to it later. Before that I re-read Warren Ellis' TRANSMETROPOLITAN. Which, when compared against our current reality, is far less cynical and fucked up, and in some ways more optimistic, than it used to be.
  5. I hope they are visible now. Problems with Google photo
  6. Oh, hey, I know that org! (Editengine's )
  7. Psychophant, I'm just getting a error icon. (A "do not enter" icon, specifically)
  8. Started the Ack-Ack-Macaque omnibus, that combines all three novels and a short story, and it is too much monkey for me. The first novel is very good, the second starts to be repetitive and even worse, I really, really hate infinite accessible parallel universes. I blame Heinlein. So I stopped halfway the third and may finish it later, when I am less burnt-out. So I read a couple of Spanish books, reread the first two books of Chris Wooding's Tales of the Ketty Jay, and Whispers Underground, the third novel in Ben Aaronovitch The Rivers of London series, that took out the bad taste the second left me and that had kept me out of the series for years. I will give an opportunity to the rest, as soon as I have made some place in my shelves and I can start buying books again. I used to donate books to the local library, but they indicated me that the kind of books I donate are not what they want for permanent collection, so they will most likely get sold cheaply, so now I donate them to a NGO that resells them at 1-5 €, depending on the book and the state. Unfortunately they are closed due to the lockdown, so I will see next week if they open again or not. I may buy some books at the same time.
  9. If not for some of the printed material, "vote out hate" etc, some people would see that, as an endorsement for Trump.
  10. Yesterday
  11. Earlier
  12. not to be hyperbolic or nothin', but 8 is a typical day for me?
  13. Whoopsie. If you are ever concerned about screwing up Shinto and Japanese Buddhism in regards to photos of black flower funeral metal (Black Cat Metal), and reflect on this as it screws up, you might as well go right back to India through China, with kind words to the Dali Lama in passing. Meaning... Part of you might want to post a "Cyber" "Squad" version of La Soldier. Instead, this, to friends there: Deep Purple Knockin' From North America despite translations, I spent a summer or winter break on a boat in the mid eighties in British Columbia around Comox, and when on look out for many hours, had this song running through my mind, as it was on the radio much. It seems to strongly still be there, when many things have been forgotten.
  14. it's that time of the year, folks
  15. pretty sure the number of formerly good friends I've somehow managed to seriously alienate far outnumbers the count of present close friends I have
  16. wrong thead, sorry
  17. Damn, that's definitely some disheartening news… deepest condolences to Beryl too.
  18. Well he certainly lives up to his name. Handsome little devil.
  19. I'm approaching the end of Palm Sunday, a Vonnegut book I never read when I was in deep the first time. It's a collection of mostly nonfiction stitched together with connective tissue, and it's a mixed bag quality-wise. There are plenty of very good Vonnegut gut punches about life, but some chapters required slogging. I'm glad I've read it, but I won't read it again. In one chapter, V grades all of his works and gives this one a C. I think that's a fair assessment.
  20. Four Kay Horror was Anywhere that it mattered - Corona lonely. In the off season We meet, but when the game’s on You can’t find a tree. I do not point, no, But there is a pointing, yes: All allusions suck. Her name, Four Kay Blood, In a list of 420’s. Ya, sure. It’s me, girl. Virus, kid or man, I cycle through both this month. Four Kay talks to me. Kid says Dokken ‘Beast From the East’ plus bottle wine Equals special God? Man bets car on stocks, Broke even today, at least For twelve hours, virus. Who are we fooling? Man is kid as kid is kid, Modern suit as both. I watched you one hour, For three seconds I could swear I saw someone else. This is not for you. I dream of Tai Chi’s girlfriend With an other’s soul. Four Kay Horror, she Was social distancing made Backwards as a bridge. It’s not the sword you Worship when you worship the Sword, silly camper. Code break, code stun, count Interrupts to zero, go Developer blues.
  21. db

    Show us your...

    He is just CRAZY cute!
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