Book Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis (Four Stars)

Book Review: Crosstalk by Connie Willis

Four Stars

“Communication’s not everything.”

Contemporary social media is the perfect environment for Willis’ trademark self-induce attention deficient characters. Hard to review this book without giving away too much. (In fact, the book is so laced with current culture references that it may soon seem dated.)

“Internet conversations always involve Hitler.”

Willis has a talent for letting the reader figure out the next plot twist just before the protagonist catches on, then surprises both.

“According to Wikipedia, which as we know is always accurate.”

Dark night of the soul” dates to far earlier than F. Scott Fitzgerald.

A good read for fans of Connie Willis. If you haven’t tried her, this might be a better entrance than some of her historical science fiction.

“Never underestimate the power of a good book.”

Green Grapes #3

15ribbonMy third rendering of this bunch of grapes was awarded First Place among watercolors at the fall Lee Artists Association show at Windemere Art Gallery in Mechanicsville, Virginia. The grapes aren’t quite as good as #1, but the background is much better.

The show is up through the end of the month. Come on by.

Other paintings, including #1, are viewable at the link under Paintings.

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Five Stars)

Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Five Stars

“If you go in with fear, fear is what you find.”

Totally awesome. The best science fiction I’ve read this year. Called a science fiction thriller and a romance, it goes beyond many genre expectations. Explores how choices relate to identity. We are who we chose to be.

“I have total control, but only to the extent that I have control over myself.”

Well-conceived, well-developed, well-written.

“I’m not allowed to think I’m crazy. I’m only allowed to solve this problem.”

The title, of course, is a pun. The story only tangentially relates to Continue reading

Book Review: Death’s End by Liu Cixin (Four Stars)

Book Review: Death’s End by Liu Cixin

Four Stars

“In the end, the real power is wielded by time.”

Loved it. As usual with Liu’s books, took a couple hundred pages for the story to get traction, but once it’s out of the station this train builds lots of momentum.

“Twice … she passed the world into the abyss in the name of love.”

Main character is so flawed in a Sesame Street-way that you can’t help loving her–even as you yell at her for her stupid decisions.

“forty five kilometers below the [Earth’s] surface.”

Lots of Quibbles: 1. Europe is not “on the other side of the Bosporus” from Istanbul. 2. Peacekeeper missiles were decommissioned in 2005. 3. “Known universe is 16 billion light years across.” It’s Continue reading

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead 2 (Three Stars)

theatrical release poster

theatrical release poster

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead 2 directed by Harold Cronk

Three Stars

I didn’t see this in the theaters partly because even Christians acknowledged that the first God’s Not Dead movie was shallow with poor production values. This time the production quality was good, the script was good, and the acting superb.

On the other hand, Rotten Tomatoes reviewed it as “Every bit the proselytizing lecture promised by its title, God’s Not Dead 2 preaches ham-fistedly to its paranoid conservative choir.” On the other hand, audiences loved it.

This was the final film role of Fred Thompson.

Non-Christians will not be inclined to watch this movie, but they’re missing a good experience on two counts. First, it’s a good story, well told. But send and most important, individual rights are under attack in our culture. Observe the condescending tone of the negative reviews.

Book Review: The Watchmaker’s Daughter by C. J. Archer (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Watchmaker’s Daughter (Glass and Steele #1) by C. J. Archer

Three Stars

“Every unattached man is a prospect.”

Shades of Jane Austen. A fun, lightweight Victorian romance with just a touch of magic. No, really, magic. Not really steampunk or paranormal, closer to urban fantasy light.

Engaging story and characters. Paradoxically some of its Englishness seemed off. As an American I’m hardly one to judge, but Archer hails from Australia, so …

Unfortunately, the book stops before the story finishes. A common flaw of contemporary series. It’s possible to bring each tale to a satisfying conclusion while setting the hook for continued adventures. Archer sets the hooks but doesn’t give satisfaction with this volume.

Nice cover image.

“Things tend to fall into perspective when your life hangs in the balance.”

Book Review: The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2) by Liu Cixin

Four Stars

“It’s part of the plan.”

I struggled through the first hundred pages, thinking it’d be a shame to give up when I liked The Three-Body Problem so well. Slow pace and lots of references to the first book. Yes, I’ve read it, but I’ve slept since then. No clue who many of the players were or why I should care.

“It’s a wonder to be alive. If you don’t understand that, how can you search for anything deeper.”

Finally came into focus midway through. The pace accelerated and Liu swept me away again. Until the last hundred pages, I was still going to give it four stars, but the denouncement was great, if a lot more obvious to us than to the protagonist.

“I can’t see humanity. I can only see individuals.”

Speaking of obvious, once again Liu telegraphs his punches. It’s almost no spoiler to tell you what happens halfway through, but I’m not. Read it for yourself. Once again he explains the involved physics in excruciating detail. Lots of “as you know, Bob” data dumps.

“Thought control is everywhere in modern society.”

Love the references of psychohistory from Asimov’s Continue reading

Fiction Review: The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin (Three Stars)

Fiction Review: The City Born Great by N. K. Jemisin

Three Stars

“Tears mean you’re alive.”

It’s got energy. It’s got street cred. But … I can take it or leave it. Really short, so I didn’t waste much time on it. Okay. Better than okay, but I guess you’ve got to be one with a city–any city, but preferably NYC. I’m not. Not into the profanity either, but that’s me.

“Any NYPD you can walk away from, hallelujah.”