Book Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Four Stars)

17377584

Book Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

(Four Stars)

“What do I have to be depressed about?”

Short story opening with a Wizard of Oz tie-in. Creative tying of Baum’s classic to previous novels set in Kowal’s Lady Astronaut universe.

“It shames me that my first reaction was anger. How dare he?”

Quibble: “They’ve got a slingshot that can launch a ship up to near light speed.” Maybe someday, but not with then-current technology. These folks still use punch cards to program computers.

“The decision would be easier if I knew when he would die. I still hate myself for thinking that.”

Advertisements

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois (Four Stars)

how_to_train_your_dragon_3_poster

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois

(Four Stars)

“We are no longer safe here. We all have to disappear, completely off the map. We have to fight for their freedom.”

A satisfactory and satisfying conclusion to the series. Plot threads draw much of the earlier work together with a suitable threat to add tension. Lots of repetition from previous movies, but not entirely formulaic.

“You brought a baby to a battle?” “I couldn’t find a sitter.”

The animation is amazing. Human hair so much better done that some characters are almost unrecognizable. The youth are now adults, so of course they look different, though most haven’t changed much. Rendering of loose sand was especially good.

“Out there, beyond the edge of the world, lies the home of the dragons, and I believe it’s your destiny to one day find this hidden world.”

Book Review: Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal (Four Stars)

24357487

Book Review: Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5) by Mary Robinette Kowal

(Four Stars)

“Perhaps she could paint me with a halo.” “Nothing so explicit. Simply a ray of light emanating from heaven, as if you are favored by God.” “Ah, for that, I only need you seated at my right hand.”

Fitting end to the series: Jane and Vincent must deal with family, that most Austenian of plot movers. But Austen–even glamour–gradually recedes for center stage as our protagonists move far from the shores of England into physical, political and social situations as outside their experience as being impoverished in Venice, to Antiqua in the Caribbean.

“She held his gaze and waited. If there was one thing that a young lady learned, it was how to wait with a tranquil expression.”

Kowal tries to maintain a Jane Austen tone–to the point that the grammar is often stilted–but her subjects are far beyond the cloistered existence of Regency England. Kowal enjoys, and makes good use of, resources far beyond anything Austen could imagine.

“It was difficult to avoid noticing how many times Julian had been whipped. Jane ground her teeth together as they worked.” This was not England, but England was responsible.”

That other cultures may understand and use glamour differently than Europeans might seem obvious, but Jane like us occasionally misses what is right before her. Kowal does a credible job defining these alternate approaches–remembering Jane as many Americans seem unaware that Africa is a huge and diverse place–and imagining a credible response for Jane to it.

“His eyes were wide and serious with the slightly troubled expression unique to newborns, as if he had come into the world knowing how to right all the troubles but could no longer quite remember how.”

Book Review: Rex Regis by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (Three Stars)

19438988

Book Review: Rex Regis (Imager Portfolio #8) by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

(Three Stars)

“A fool has many choices, a wise man far fewer.”

Another rousing fantasy in the imaging world. The final story of the Quaeryt thread.

“Quaeryt Rytersyn … you may be the most powerful imager ever and a hand of Erion, but you are an idiot!”

Well done. The usual quibbles about slow pace, repetition and poor editing, but it’s great fun to read. Probably even better on audio.

“Only the Nameless is infallible. The rest of us must do the best we can.” And Sometimes I wonder about just how infallible the Nameless is, thought Quaryt, if there even Continue reading

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (Five Stars)

35519109

Book Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“I’m a SecUnit, not an engineer.”

This is what comes of giving five star ratings. When Wells writes an even better story, there’s no higher rating to give. Rats. This story reads as if Martha (sorry for the familiarity, but I feel I’ve been in her head; first names sound more appropriate) and her buds got together, popped a few brews, and discussed how they could improve on the already snarky, wonderful humor of her first three murderbot outings. Here it is! Better than ever.

“I was the only one here, so I braced myself and made the ultimate sacrifice. ‘Uh, you can hug me if you need to.’ She started to laugh, then her face did something complicated and she hugged me. I upped the temperature in my chest and told myself Continue reading

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

8161467

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.”