Book Review: Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Raven Strategem (The Machineries of Empire #2) by Yoon Ha Lee

(Three Stars)

“I would like to think that it’s possibly to construct a society where our orders don’t involve slaughtering our own people.”

Another masterful space opera set in the universe of the hexarchate featuring the four-hundred-year-old revenant of Shous Jedao. Readers unfamiliar with the hexarchate would profit by reading Ninefox Gambit first, however Strategem fills background as needed as the story develops.

“Immortality didn’t turn you into a monster. It merely showed what kind of monster you already were.” “Would it be such an evil thing to learn?”

Strategem features a Byzantine web of factions and players alternately attacking and defending each other. Corruption and betrayal are Continue reading

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Book Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“You need to make better threats.” “I don’t make threats, and I’m just telling you what I’m going to do.”

Love the voice! For having no emotions, he’s so funny.

“Being asked to stay, with a please and an option for refusal, hit me almost as hard as a human asking for my opinion and actually listening to me.”

He’s not a murderous rogue robot; he’s a security unit who has hacked his control module. Self-controlled. An augmented human, human-killing machine construct, a cyborg perhaps. But not a murderbot. Just as comfort units are not Continue reading

Book Review: “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker (Two Stars)

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Book Review: “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker

(Two Stars)

(This review contains numerous spoilers.)

“Who discovers how to access infinite realities and then uses that discovery to invite her alternate selves to a convention?”

Great concept. How do you investigate a murder when the victim and all the suspects are the same person? Wanted to like it better. The point of view is one of the more pedestrian iterations of Sarah (yes, the author uses herself as the main character/almost-entire cast), but fails to grip the reader with the inner turmoil she describes as happening. Too focused on philosophizing and preaching.

“Divergence points were the key to everything.”

Figured out who-dun-it half way through, but find the explanation unsatisfying, though Pinsker provided several twists trying to make it suspenseful.

“We all built the future with our choices every day, never knowing which ones mattered.”

(2018 Hugo Award novella finalist.)

Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Rafferty (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Six Wakes by Mur Rafferty

(Four Stars)

“Having a second clone is highly illegal, right?” “Well, so is murder, but that doesn’t stop people.”

Thought-provoking science fiction about trust, murder, and what it means to be human. Rafferty dumps the cast and reader right into the first crisis–blood and bodies floating everywhere who-knows-how-far from earth on a colonization ship with hundreds of sleeping humans and a brain-dead AI. What else could go wrong? Plenty.

“The greatest gift a creature can give another is that of sacrifice. Clones can’t sacrifice.”

Classic locked-room murder mystery; almost everyone has motive and means. Then the lights go out. Despite a diverse crew, all shared Continue reading

Book Review: “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Four Stars)

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Book Review: “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

(Four Stars)

“All known forgeries are failures.”

Hilarious short story about a bio-forger in way over her head. Help comes from an unlikely addition to her “staff.”

“The trick is to not get ambitious.”

Well-developed short story with the reader learning bits as the plot progresses.

“There are so many ways for a forgeries to go wrong, and only one way it can go right.”

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

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