Book Review: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor (Five Stars)

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Book Review: The Night Masquerade (Binti #3) by Nnedi Okorafor

Five Stars

“Couldn’t you be broken and still bring change?”

Don’t read the reviews (including this one), read this novella. Forget your categories of science fiction versus fantasy or your advocacy goals. Read and enjoy. Good story, good storytelling, good writing.

“A tree with strong roots laughs at storms.”

Expect to see this novella nominated for awards, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it.

“It is what it is and we know you do what you do.”

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Book Review: Bannerless by Carry Vaughn (Two Stars)

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Book Review: Bannerless by Carry Vaughn

Two Stars

“You’re trying to save a world that went away a century ago.”

Had to force myself to finish. The premise was so blatantly ridiculous that I had to see if the author somehow saved it. She didn’t. The setting is a post-industrial, post-electrical, post-pharmaceutical, post-religious utopia a century after The Fall, which is the end of civilization as we (or at least Californians) know it. Except they still have solar cars and birth control implants. And a still? They miss plastic wrap? I’d miss antibiotics.

“Wouldn’t want anyone to get more than they deserved, because that was what doomed the old world.”

Villages of hundreds have replaced cities of millions, and everyone lives in hippy communes growing vegetables and weaving cloth. Community standards are enforced by gossip and Continue reading

Book Review: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor (Four Stars)

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Book Review: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor

Four Stars

“They wanted me dead. It seemed to me that the Golden Rule applied. Time to reciprocate.”

Ripping good space opera/apocalypse tale. Lots of fun action as well as reflections about what/who we are. Heavy handed on stereotyping, but “Stereotypes are good first order approximations.”

“The backup was a digital attempt to save an analog phenomena.” (of a digital attempt to replicate an analog phenomena)

Engaging storytelling. Multi-threads, excellent Continue reading

Book Review: Shadows of God by J. Gregory Keyes (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Shadows of God (Age of Unreason #4) by J. Gregory Keyes

Four Stars

“It is a short step from having a djinn who serves you to having a god you must beg for favors.”

Keyes redeemed himself with this series-closing story. His particular alternate history was closed in both a satisfying and a consistent way. Good storytelling. Readers not inclined to read all four books of this series won’t miss much by reading one and four.

“… as unaware as a pen of what it writes on the page.”

Inevitably this series will be compared with Eric Flint’s sprawling alternate universe which opens with 1632. The premise of this series works better and is developed more logically. Both are exercises in imagining “what if”.

“If you are no magician, how will you kill him?” “Carefully, Tsar, carefully.”

Quibbles Muskets are not that accurate, no matter who is shooting them. Black powder smoke is white.

“All my old selves follow me as ghosts.”

Movie Review: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson (Five Stars)

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Movie Review: The Last Jedi (Star Wars Episode VIII), directed by Rian Johnson

Five Stars

“I’ve seen this raw strength only once before. It didn’t scare me enough then. It does now.”

These days I go to Stars Wars movies with trepidation. You see, I saw the first (later called Episode IV) in 1977, the first week it opened. I’ve seen each one since. Some were stinkers. The Last Jedi was not. In fact, it’s one of the best of the lot.

“Everything you just said was wrong.”

There’s hardly anything I can say that won’t be a spoiler. Except there’s lots of reversals and unexpected. Leavened with a bit of humor.

“Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.”

I went in with one big expectation, and they nailed it in the most satisfying way. Not for everyone, but lots of fun.

“I want every gun we have to fire on that man. Do it.”

Book Review: The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Tropic of Serpents (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan

Three Stars

“It is said there are no atheists in war; there are lots of pantheists at the edge of the cliff.”

Listened to this as an audio book. The story is Trent’s usual fall-in-mud-and-emerge-smelling-like-a-rose, not to mention saving the day, story.

“Not so lucky as to be an idiot, at least in so far as this is concerned.”

Kate Reading nailed Lady Trent’s Received Pronunciation and several other accents as well. However, while it’s fun to read, it’s a pain to listen to for ten hours. Probably won’t try this again, though this narrative made the miles flash by.

“I cannot be glad for the death of mean, even my enemies.”

Book Review: Sister Solweig & Mr. Denial by Kameron Hurley (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Sister Solweig & Mr. Denial by Kameron Hurley

Four Stars

“… When the sun hiccuped over the horizon …”

Excellent short story, if a bit gory. Hurley handles words like a master. She draws beautiful (or ugly) pictures with sparse prose. The point of view (“Mr. Denial”) makes it work. Assume this is a tease for a longer work or works.

“What we want rarely intersects with where we are.”

Book Review: Dauntless by Jack Campbell (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dauntless (Lost Fleet #1) by Jack Campbell

Three Stars

“For the first time, he wondered if missing the last century had actually been a blessing.”

Good space opera. Protagonist back from a hundred year sleep must save the day. Realistic naval idioms for ship movement, engagement and culture.

“You just didn’t ask whether or not marines would follow orders.”

The protagonist is the reader’s “everyman” in the advanced technology and changed culture of his future. Plenty of adversaries, both friendly and decidedly not, to give the story depth and provide fodder for this and half a dozen follow-on tales.

“If the AI isn’t smart enough to employ a weapon all by itself, you can’t trust it very much in battle. If that AI is smart enough … Continue reading

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, written and directed by James Gunn (Three Stars)

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, written and directed by James Gunn

Three Stars

“Sometimes that thing you search for your whole life is right by your side all along; you just don’t know it.”

Now this is popcorn for the brain. Mindless, comic book-style action. But … wait, there’s more there’s an understrata of subplots about relationship, especially familial ones.

“I can only afford to lose one friend today.”

Love the music, but then I was just out of college when Looking Glass’ “Brandy” topped the pop charts.

“You’ll be just like everyone else.” “What’s so wrong with that?”

Book Review: When We Fall by Kameron Hurley (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “When We Fall” by Kameron Hurley

Four Stars

“Nothing logical or sane about life. We have only this, each other.”

A sensitive, introspective story about a spacer injured on the job. The stranger who talks her through the wait for rescue is a bit … different. Cool.

“We understood each other as only two people alone on the edge of annihilation can.”

Great voice and storytelling; the mechanics were a bit rough.

“You’re not real.” “I’m not human. I am very real.”