Book Review: “Professional Integrity” by Michael J. Sullivan (Four Stars)

35891977

Book Review: Professional Integrity” (Riyria Chronicles #2.6) by Michael J. Sullivan

(Four Stars)

“You’re willing to pay fifteen tenents just in the hope your disappearance will be noticed by this Ianto fellow?” “Clever, right?” “Not if clever means the same in your world as it does in ours,”

A clever short story which fans of Riyria will enjoy. Others will perhaps wonder what’s going on. Of course, so did Continue reading

Movie Review: Onward, directed by Dan Scanlon (Four Stars)

onward_poster

Movie Review: Onward, directed by Dan Scanlon

(Four Stars)

“I am a mighty warrior.”

Here’s the trick: instead of the hero’s quest, how ‘bout a fantasy which plays by the rules of a fantasy role-playing game?

“You can’t spend your whole life playing board games.”

Great concept—semi-autobiographical, at that—great vocal talent; great art. The computer-generated scenes are incredible. Compare it with Toy Story 1.

“On a quest, you use what you’ve got, and we’ve got this”

What could go wrong? Cartoonish. Feels like a made-for-direct-release video. (Think Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar.)

“Whoever said you have to take risks in life to have an adventure?” “Apparently, you did.”

Book Review: Network Effect by Martha Wells (Four Stars)

52383564._sx318_sy475_

Book Review: Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) by Martha Wells

(Four Stars)

(Second read in progress: Provisionally lowering the rating to four stars. I’ll explain why when I finish the read and revise the review.)

“I’m back online.” She smiled. “I’ll warn everybody.”

Fear not, those who thought Murderbot might survive the transition to novel-length. Our favorite … uhm, construct strides through three hundred pages with his self-doubt and existential crisis—not to mention his armature and drones—intact.

“What are you? You’re a bot?” Thiago said, “It’s a security unit. A bot/human construct.” Target Leader didn’t seem to believe him. “Why does it look like a person?” I said, “I ask myself that sometimes.”

Hasn’t quite the immediacy and edge of the shorter stories, but equally entertaining.

(If I got angry at myself for being angry I would be angry constantly and I wouldn’t have time to think about anything else.) (Wait, I think I am angry constantly. That might explain a lot.)

It’s the parentheticals. Not everyone can sustain so many snarky asides without dissolving into silliness. It’s a knack, and Wells has it. (Don’t look for it in her other stories; it’s not there.)

(Confession time: that moment, when the humans or augmented humans realize you’re really here to help them. I don’t hate that moment.)

Book Review: The Three Kings of Cologne by Kate Sedley (Four Stars)

19441273

Book Review: The Three Kings of Cologne (Roger the Chapman #16) by Kate Sedley

(Four Stars)

“Having everything you want’s no good,” she said, “if you’ve got to give your soul in return.”

Excellent medieval mystery, along the lines of the Chronicles of Brother Cadfael. Excellent sense of time and place. Our protagonist is a humble peddler who solves crimes on the side. Leavened with self-depreciating humor.

“Women, I reflected, not for the first time, were the losers in the game of life; the thankless drudges who smoothed the paths of their men.”

Don’t start a series in the middle. Having said that, this sixteenth in the series tells the reader enough to without overloading with backstory. I could be wrong but Continue reading

Book Review: “Redtooth” by Brian Rathbone (Three Stars)

10852326

Book Review: “Redtooth” by Brian Rathbone

(Three Stars)

“What did I say?” “You said: ‘I love you all, and I would like to cuddle, but I have a nuclear device in my ear.’”

A humorous science fiction cautionary tale for those who have trouble with auto-completion, auto-translators, and auto-spell correctors. A riff on the intersection between voice-activated assistants and ear buds. This technology is probably not that far away.

“I’m not cheap. I’m just resistant to change.”

Basically an extended gag. The concept is that not all technology advances are improvements, especially to late adopters. Nice cover art.

“The man to your right is a German spy who thinks you’re a CIA double-agent.” “What about the thick-fingered man from the pawnshop? Who does he think I am?” “He’s pretty firmly convinced that you’re an idiot.”

Movie Review: Jumanji: The Next Level, directed by Jake Kasdan (Two Stars)

220px-jumanjithenextlevelteaserposter

Movie Review: Jumanji: The Next Level, directed by Jake Kasdan

(Two Stars)

Disappointing. Had the same wacked-out plot structure as Jumanji: Into the Jungle and much the same cast. Danny DeVito was a welcome addition. Lots of inside jokes and some healthy relationship vibes.

But the tone of the movie is, presumably intentional, grittier. For one thing the offensive language is much more and more noticeable.

Book Review: Envy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1) by Matt Wallace (Three Stars)

25819511

Book Review: Envy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1) by Matt Wallace

(Three Stars)

“I’ll just come right out and say I’m not good with it. It’s the difference between serving demons and being one.” “That’s a pretty fine distinction.” “No, it’s not.”

Good urban fantasy concept: down-on-their-luck muggle cooks happen onto a food service which carters to supernatural clients. Essentially a novel-length expansion of a one-line joke, but well done.

“Demons can die?” “Everything dies, little one.”

Lots of kitchen humor, which folks who’ve seen Ratatouille will get. Whether it’s better is debatable.

“All things are possible. Illusion is often easiest.”

Quibble: “How did she make the eggs.” Betrays a basic lack of knowledge about chickens; no rooster necessary for eggs—just fertile eggs. My chicken expert opines, “Roosters are nothing but trouble.”

“Business as usual. Which is to say our only god is chaos.”

Lost a star for gratuitous profanity.

I’m not sure we want to find out why a billion-dollar corporation needs a magical lock.”

Book Review: And Then the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson (Three Stars)

7780107

Book Review: And Then the Town Took Off by Richard Wilson

(Three Stars)

“Behold,” he said. “Something Columbus couldn’t find. The edge of the world.”

For its time, published in 1960, innovative science fiction. Characters and plot are mediocre. Pop corn for the mind then and now. Not politically correct by current standards.

“The old town’s really come up in the world, hasn’t it?” “Overnight.”

Pattern for many subsequent science fiction tales, though in most the patch of earth is displaced temporally, not spatially.

“That sums up why you’ve never been a howling success in politics. You don’t give a damn for the people. All you care about is yourself.” Refreshing; today it’s a given that Continue reading

Book Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (Three Stars)

29661618._sx318_

Book Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #1) by Jodi Taylor

(Three Stars)

“Gripping the edge of the console, I shouted, ‘No, no, no, no!’ and began to thump the panel. Strangely, this failed to work at all.

A fun time travel fantasy told from the point of view of a “disaster magnet” protagonist, who is too stupid to live. Unfortunately, it’s those around her who die. Fascinating to see what new ways she invents to endanger herself and everyone around her.

“Always nice to see someone who’s even more of a disaster magnet than I am. ‘Maybe we’ll cancel each other out,’ he whispered. ‘Like white noise.’ Fat chance!”

Perky, snide inner voice which adds perspective as well as humor. Clear, conversational prose propels the reader forward; that and curiosity of Continue reading

Book Review: Ordained Irreverence by McMillian Moody (Three Stars)

12510423

Book Review: Ordained Irreverence (Elmo Jenkins #1) by McMillian Moody

(Three Stars)

“I felt like the refuse of the rich and famous. If this is what it was going to be like working full-time in a church, I didn’t want anything to do with it.”

An engaging funny, and at the same time sad opening to a series about a young man becoming a Baptist minister. (The denomination is only mentioned once or twice, but it’s obvious from internal evidence.) Moody captures many internal dynamics which are true of all bureaucratic organizations, especially those with undue power an influence vested in those who have their own Continue reading