Book Review: Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear (Two Stars)

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Book Review: Stone Mad (Karen Memory #2) by Elizabeth Bear

(Two Stars)

“Overkill is something of a personal defect.”

The subtitle tells it all: recycled. Not a bad story, but neither the story nor the characters are half as complex and engaging as in Karen Memory. Bear tried to compensate with the interplay among Karen’s female friends, but that felt forced, too. Even the antagonist is sympathetic and not very threatening.

“Deciding you know something when you don’t is about the deadliest thing a person can do.”

Lots of preaching, which also rehashes much of the first novel. Karen’s awkward syntax lacks the originality of the first opus, too.

“The advantage of being elderly is you don’t have to make the same stupid self-defeating decision the same way a second time.”

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Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

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Book Review: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

(Four Stars)

“I am not a combat murderbot, I am security.”

Another of the plethora of AI stories this Hugo year. This novella is marked by the great inner voice of a robot who has hacked his own command module and spends too much time watching the entertainment feed. Nice cover art.

“Lowest bidder. Trust me on that one.”

Since the entire story is told from the robot–cyborg, actually–point of view, Wells only gives the reader clues what’s really going on. The reader sorts it out alone with our protagonist.

“When I do manage to care, I am a pessimist.”

(2018 Hugo Award novella finalist)

Book Review: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer (Five Stars)

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Book Review: “The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer

(Five Stars)

“I serve”

Short, sweet, and hilarious. Well-conceived and -written short story from the point of view of an obsolete (maybe) nano-sized repair robot. Nothing spectacular, but well done.

“… turning space into something that would give Escher nightmares.”

Read and enjoy.

“We’ve got a long trip home.” “But we are home.”

(2018 Hugo Award novelette finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)

Book Review: “Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker (Two Stars)

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Book Review: “Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker

(Two Stars)

“There aren’t new things in history. That’s why it’s called history.”

A well-told short story about life on a generation space ship which has lost all its records of Earth. Nice story, but never made a point. Perhaps that’s why the younger generation couldn’t see the point.

“Maybe we failed these children already if they thought the past was irrelevant.”

(2018 Hugo short story finalist. Illustration is cover of magazine in which story appeared; has nothing to do with story.)

Book Review: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Three Stars)

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Book Review: “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse

(Three Stars)

“Tourists don’t come to Sedona Sweats to live out a [expletive] battle, especially if the white guy loses. They come to find themselves.”

An engaging tale about a young man who facilitates immersive native American experiences for non-native Americans: “pretendians.” What could go wrong? Plenty. Well-conceived and written.

“Tourists aren’t all bad. They’re just needy.”

(2018 Hugo finalist short story)

Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Three Stars)

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Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

(Three Stars)

“People are blind to a bubble they are inside.”

On the Waterfront meets A Christmas Carol as told by Karl Marx. A cautionary science fiction extrapolating an ocean level rise exceeding fifty feet. Well-developed ensemble of characters with interwoven plots. Lots of preaching. Three hundred pages of excellent story hidden among another three hundred of repetition and bombast. Lots of quotable epigrams.

“You think what you see is the totality.”

Make no mistake: Robinson has an agenda. Cynical view of almost everybody: politicians, cops, investment bankers, lovers, water rats. No, kind of soft toward the water rats. The humbler the character; the more sympathetic the portrayal.

“Everyone’s leveraged, right? More loans than assets?” “If you’re doing it right.”

Quibbles: Lots of nits keep knocking the reader out of the spell of the story, starting with Continue reading

Book Review: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

(Three Stars)

“Friends don’t keep score.”

Well-developed steampunk with engaging characters. It’s as much parallel universe as alternate timeline, but it mostly works. Good weaving of historic and imagined elements. Good storytelling.

“Don’t tell me I’m better off for being an orphan.” “No more so that I’m better off for having been a slave.”
Most of the primary characters are social outcast for no reason of their own. Their bonding works, if a bit idyllic.

“These feelings ain’t nohow sensible. They just is.”

The narrator and main character has twisted syntax in order to contrast her native wit with Continue reading

Book Review: The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray (Five Stars)

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Book Review: The Spirit of Christ by Andrew Murray

(Five Stars)

“The indwelling of the Holy Spirit must become the distinguishing feature of the Christian life. We must learn to wait more earnestly for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the selection of men and fields of labor.”

One of the best books on this vital and often controversial topic. (I may lower my ratings on other similar books because this is so much better.) If you only read one book about the theology and practice of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, read this one.

“Prayer teaches us that it is only to spiritual understanding that the knowledge of God’s will can be given. Spiritual understanding only comes with the growth of the spiritual man and the faithfulness to the spiritual life. The believer who wants the leading of the Spirit must Continue reading

Book Review: Three Days in January by Bret Baier (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission by Bret Baier

(Four Stars)

“Is it good for America?” Ike

A welcome contrast to most books by reporters. The norm is shallow, sensational and political, like their reporting (despite their leaning). This is an informative, in-depth look at our 34th president’s last days in office.

Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re: Gently in manner, strong in deed. (Displayed in Oval Office)

Baier telescopes Dwight David Eisenhower’s biography into the first third of the book, focuses on the titular three days during the middle, and devotes the end to Ike’s relations with Continue reading

Book Review: From a Certain Point of View, edited by Ben Acker (Three Stars)

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Book Review: From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)

(Three Stars)

“As if all the stories we heard as children were true.”

Forty authors celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Fourth Episode, but first movie, set “long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.” What could go wrong?

“As Obi-Wan will soon learn, the most beautiful form of mastery is the art of letting go.”

Despite the prominent Disney appellation, not much goes wrong. Uneven quality, but a better-than-average anthology of stories surrounding A New Hope from the points of view of often-peripheral characters. A bit self-referential and tongue-in-cheek, but Continue reading