Book Review: The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu (Four Stars)


Book Review: The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu

(Four Stars)

“No guns in Container Town.”

See? It can be done. Kick off a series with an enjoyable, self-contained story–not a chopped-off cliffhanger. A near future dystopia with aliens, set in the universe of Chu’s Lives of Tao books. Why wasn’t this Hugo Award finalist?

“It was one thing to witness a slum, it was another to see a beautiful city reduced to one before your eyes.”

Even if you haven’t read previous stories in this setting, Chu focuses you on his protagonist and gently fills in the background as the story develops. The data dumps are appropriately placed and paced.

“Stop acting like life is some precious gift from a higher power. Everything dies, Ella. Everything is expendable.”

Totally immerses the reader in the setting. Captures the sights, smells and tastes of a post-modern slum in Continue reading

Movie Review: Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins (Four Stars)


theatrical release poster

Movie Review: Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins

Four Stars

“You have been my greatest love. Today you become my greatest sadness. Be careful, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

I grew up under a rock. I never read a Wonder Woman comic book, nor many others. So I don’t know what’s canonical and what’s blasphemy, but this is a cogent whole. For an action movie it’s pretty good.

“A pair of glasses, and suddenly she’s not the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?”

Nice fish-out-water sub-theme about Diana in 1917 Europe. And also a moderately funny romantic subplot. Etta, I assume, is comic relief. Steve’s friends are the mixed bag expected of modern storytelling and, in the context, is not less believable than the rest of it. In contrast to other cinema superheros, Diana is positive and self-confident. She is a force for good and happy in that role.

“It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”


Book Review: The Absconded Ambassador by Michael R. Underwood (Three Stars)

Book Review: The Absconded Ambassador (Genrenauts #2) by Michael R. Underwood

Three Stars

“Pots of tea so caffeinated you could practically see through time.”

Great fun. Another enjoyable romp through the world(s) with those who charged with keeping the narratives on track. Builds on the first book, but still accessible without having read it. All the sly cultural and SF memes and allusions we expect from this series.

“A lot of diplomacy is the managing of public image.”

Fast paced and fun. Our protagonist has a backstory, but most of her life is immersed in her job. And what a job it is.

“That’s the problem with pessimism. When I’m right, I still hate the result.”

My main quibble is the story itself: kidnapped ambassadors on the eve of diplomatic breakthroughs is a mainstay opening for space operas. How can that be a narrative breach? Doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable; just not the punch of the first tale, in which the standard denouement to the standard western plot misfired.

“Dawn smiles on the prudent.” “… like a Lao Tzu MBA course.”

War of Words

“History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease,” said Jimmy Carter in 1980, responding to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A Washington Post headline reads, “Forget Reagan–we’re starting to miss Carter.”

“President Obama and European leaders are ratcheting up their rhetoric against Russia. Too bad Vladimir Putin is a man of action who hasn’t seen anything worth stopping his assault on Ukraine,” opined the Wall Street Journal.

Will Rogers said one way to prevent war was to ban peace conferences, because we use them to substitute words for action. We’re certainly trying to talk Russia to sleep. (That, and cancelling a few visas.)

All our talk may have the Russians oligarchs “concerned” but not Vlad the Imperialist.