Pixel Scroll 5/17/17 Round Up The Usual Pixels

(1) THE REAL AMERICAN GODS. Mark-kitteh says, “This may be the perfect combo of SF and cats for us–”

(2) ANIMAL FILIBUSTER. The Washington Post’s John Kelly interviewed Ralph Nader, who has written a fantasy novel, Animal Envy, in which animals are given the power to speak via a software program and “are given a 100-hour special broadcast” to discuss all their issues — “In his odd new book, Ralph Nader talks to the animals –and they talk back”.

Ralph Nader –tireless windmill-tilter –is standing at the National Zoo recalling a conversation he once had with an editor at The Washington Post about what he felt was the paper’s less-than-adequate coverage of his presidential campaign.

“I remember saying, ‘There are times I say to myself, I wish I was a panda, given the coverage The Post gives to pandas,’” Nader said.

Well, Nader still isn’t a panda, but he is a kangaroo, a dolphin, an elephant, a crocodile, a squirrel, an owl, an Arctic tern, a German cockroach, a European corn borer, a radioactive Chernobyl beaver, and dozens of other mammals, reptiles, birds and insects.

They’re all characters he assumes in his new book, “Animal Envy: A Fable.”

He is also a cheetah: Safe at any speed…

(3) LUNCH OR HISTORICAL REENACTMENT? “Cynthia Felice and I break into the Watergate Hotel!” That’s what Scott Edelman says in his dramatic invitation to listen to Episode 37 of Eating the Fantastic.

Grab lunch at the Watergate with my unindicted co-conspirator Cynthia Felice in Episode 37 of Eating the Fantastic.

I visited the Watergate Hotel recently, and in case those of you familiar with the history of that infamous location might be thinking I went there to bring down a president with a Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein-style investigation, let me quickly add … no. Rather, I went there to investigate the food at the recently opened Kingbird restaurant, with a guest who surprised me with her sudden visit to Washington, D.C., and whom I somehow managed to convince that a meal with me would be oh, so much more fun than visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

Joining me within the walls of the Watergate Hotel was Cynthia Felice, who published her first short story, “Longshanks,” in 1976 in the pages of Galileo, a science fiction magazine published by the late, great Charlie Ryan, and her first novel, Godsfire, two years later. She is also the co-founder with Ed Bryant — about whom, alas, I must also say late and great — of the Colorado Springs Writer’s Workshop.

We discussed how Frank Herbert’s Dune made her say, “Hey, I can do that,” the virtues of owning a motel while being a writer, the marriage advice Kate Wilhelm gave her at Clarion, what Thomas M. Disch told her that fixed one of her short stories, why we all loved the late, great Ed Bryant, the extraordinary lengths David Hartwell went to as he edited her second novel, how her collaborations with Connie Willis began, and more.

(4) THOSE SIDEKICKS, THEY DO GET WEARY. ComicMix’s John Ostrander, in “Sidekicking Around”, delves into one of comics’ well-known formulas.

Robin falls into a strange category of the child or teen sidekick. He was originally introduced to lighten up the Dark Knight Detective and, again, to give Batman someone to talk to rather than himself. Robin humanized the Bat. His popularity gave rise to a whole slew of child/teen associates such as Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad. Later, these five went from supporting characters to central ones when they formed their own super-team, the Teen Titans (later, just the Titans when they all outgrew their teenage years).

The original Robin, Dick Grayson, later grew out of his shorts and tights to become a full-fledged hero of his own, first as Nightwing and then later, briefly, actually taking Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman before reverting back to Nightwing. There have been other Robins since then, including one — Jason Todd — who was killed by the Joker. Don’t worry; he got better. The role is currently being filled by Bruce’s son, Damian. I believe he died as well at one point but is also now feeling better.

(5) STEAMPUNK BIBLIOPHILE RETURNS. This week 2012 Hugo Finalist Selena Chambers released Calls For Submission, her new short fiction collection.

Selena Chambers’ debut collection guides readers out of space and time and through genre and mythos to explore the microcosmic horrors of identity, existence, and will in the face of the world’s adamant calls for submission. Victorian tourists take a virtual trip through their (and the Ottoman empire’s) ideal Orient; a teenage girl learns about independence and battle of the bands, all while caring for her mesmerized, dead mother; a failed Beat poet goes over the edge while exploring the long-abandoned Government Lethal Chambers.

Chambers was a Related Work co-Hugo Finalist in 2012 with Jeff VanderMeer for their collaboration on The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature.

(6) MORE YA AWARD WSFS WANK. Kevin Standlee says, “You’d Think I’d Remember These Things”. You need to read all four steps to follow his argument, but here’s a foretaste of what you’ll be getting into if your click the link….

  1. Item 1 means that that as it currently stands, the Worldcon 75 WSFS Business Meeting does not have the authority to name a YA Award. However, the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting could apply a name to the Award in a single vote because of that provision. (Of course, this is all moot if the base proposal fails to be ratified.)

  2. Should the 2017 Business Meeting decide to ratify that YA proposal without the provision, the 2017 Meeting could then move as a new amendment to insert a name into the Award, with the name being something that could be passed in 2017 and ratified in 2018, like any other WSFS Constitutional amendment. That means the YA Award would have no official name in 2018, but (assuming 2017 passes a naming amendment that is ratified in 2018), it could get an official name for 2019 and beyond.

(7) BREW FOR TWO. Sounds like anybody who makes it through the Worldcon 75 Business Meeting will probably need to stop over in Iceland on the way home to chill out — “Beer baths to open in North Iceland in June”.

Kaldi brewery in Ãrskogssandur, just north of Akureyri in North Iceland, will be opening beer baths and spa in the coming month.

“The construction of the baths is progressing and everything is according to plan,” says Agnes Anna Siguroardottir, CEO of Kaldi brewery.

There will be seven beer baths in total, all suitable for two people. All guests that have reached 20 years in age can relax in their beer baths with a beer in hand, as there will be a pump by each bath. 20 is legal drinking age in Iceland.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Film director Stanley Kubrick was a big admirer of Steve Martin’s movie The Jerk. (Source: IMDB)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 17, 1902 –The Antikythera mechanism is recovered. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the occasion.

(10) THE BIRD BLABS. The Vulture knows what might have been: “The Secret History of William Gibson’s Never-Filmed Aliens Sequel”

But there’s an alternate universe where the series’ propulsive momentum only increased –a reality in which the third Alien film featured advanced xenomorphs exploding in batches of half a dozen from people’s legs, stomachs, and mouths; where cold-warring rival space stations of communists and capitalists race to outdo one another with their genetic experiments on the aliens’ tissue; where a flock of the phallic horrors flies through the void of space, only to be beaten back by a gun-toting robot. Oh, and there’s a thing called the New Beast that emerges from and sheds a shrieking human’s body as it “rips her face apart in a single movement, the glistening claws coming away with skin, eyes, muscle, teeth, and splinters of bone.”

This is the alternate universe where legendary science-fiction writer William Gibson’s Alien III (that’s “III,” not “3”) screenplay was realized. It is, perhaps, a better world than ours….

You can find the screenplay in an antiquated .txt file online, and there have been occasional discussions of it on message boards and niche blogs, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t been appropriately acknowledged as the remarkable genre-fiction artifact that it is. Indeed, with studio backing and the right production team, one can imagine the finished film being on par with Alien and Aliens, and it certainly would have altered the course of the franchise’s history. With the arrival of Alien Covenant –a movie that, whatever its merits, largely retreads ideas from the series’ previous installments –it’s time to tell the story of how Gibson’s Alien III came to be, why it never crossed the finish line, and what made it special.

(11) KIDPROOFING. John King Tarpinian recommends, “Take the kids to see Alien this weekend, then put this cookie jar out. They will never “steal” a cookie again.” ThinkGeek’s Alien Ovomorph Egg Cookie Jar:

(12) CONDIGN REVENGE. Isn’t Aidan channeling me here?

(13) PUN TIME. Yes, I think this is funny, too.

(14) SHADOW CLARKE JURY GOES INTO OVERTIME. Now they need to deal with the actual Clarke Award shortlist.

With both the Sharke Six and the official Clarke shortlist now out of the bag, I thought I’d like to reflect a little on some of the books I encountered that did not make the running, either through being ineligible (i.e US-published) or through not being submitted. I’ve found myself wanting to talk about them because even now at the end of Phase One of my Sharke reading and with a sizeable number of eligible submissions under my belt, these omissions still feel notable, with discussion around the Clarke Award seeming the poorer for their absence.

The Booker Prize has already had its debate about allowing American novels into the mix, with predictably divided responses. Whether or not the Clarke should open itself up to US submissions is a discussion that lies beyond the remit of this essay, though it does seem a shame that there have been and will continue to be books that stand central to any discussion of the year’s SF and yet under current Clarke rules must remain excluded from one of its most prestigious awards.

I still haven’t reviewed two of the books on my original shortlist. As it happens, we now know that neither of the books made it onto the Sharke Six, and neither made it onto the official Clarke Award shortlist, though I suspect for rather different reasons. So I thought I would take this opportunity to consider why they might not have been chosen.

I’ll start with Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.

Superficially, this seems to be exactly the sort of novel that has often found its way onto the Clarke shortlist. It is an elegantly, at times beautifully written novel, as here when an astronaut moves from the spinning outer ring of a spaceship to the gravity-free core:

Of all the books that I personally shortlisted for this project The Power is the one that I find most challenging to judge and to write about. I chose it precisely because of this difficulty; I had read it before and felt decidedly mixed about it. I have loved some of Alderman’s earlier work — her debut Disobedience (2006) was one of the first books that I reviewed online — and have read her assiduously, with great pleasure. Yet this fourth novel, her breakthrough book, left me unsure and unsettled. While friends and critics turned out in numbers to praise its ingenuity and confidence, its bold engagement with the dynamics of power and gender, I hung back and sat on my immediate reaction. Which was: Yes, all those things, but… I couldn’t decisively put my finger on what the ‘but’ was; it was just there, throwing up a barrier between the book and me. At the same time, I couldn’t dismiss it; I was niggled. It stayed with me. So much so, that when it came time for creating my Clarke shortlist I knew The Power had to be on it. Whatever my personal reservations, it was clearly one of the more thought-provoking and eloquent of the submitted books. I felt I owed it a re-read, to test my first response.

Other commentators have already discussed the alternate history setting of Azanian Bridges (Paul Kincaid on this site and Gautam Bhatia at Strange Horizons, while Mark Bould also provides a useful list of other African alternate histories on his own website), and I don’t see any real point in recapitulating what they’ve already said so well.

Instead, I want to focus on the relationship between Martin van Deventer, the white psychologist, and Sibusiso Mchuna, the young black man whom he is attempting to treat. Sibusiso, a trainee teacher, has withdrawn into himself after witnessing the murder of his friend, Mandla, at an anti-government rally. At a loss to know what else to do for him, his father has agreed to his being admitted to the local mental asylum for treatment. We can only speculate as to why his father did this rather than taking Sibusiso home but for now consider it as only one among many markers of the fact that Sibusiso is metaphorically as well as literally a long way from home, living in a white world, among people who have no idea about him.

(15) WE INTERRUPT YOUR READING FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Now that Chuck Tingle’s professional porn has been linked from the Hugo Voter Packet, Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte feels the need to clarify his cameo appearance in the work — thus his LiveJournal post “Pounded In The Butt By My Second Hugo Award Nomination, by Chuck Tingle”:

Second paragraph of third section:

“Hello, I’m Chuck,” I say, formally introducing myself.

I am quoted (well, paraphrased) in the crucial second section, in which author Chuck Tingle, miserable after the defeat of Space Raptor Butt Invasion in the 2016 Hugo Awards, receives notification from the 2017 Hugo Awards adminstrator that he has been nominated this year. Let’s just say for the record that the demands subsequently and consequently made of him as part of the Hugo process are not those actually required of Hugo finalists in real life.

(16) THE BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE. “This 10-year-old donated thousands of comic books to veterans”The Week has the story.

Carl Scheckel knows that not all heroes wear capes. In a show of support for American soldiers, the 10-year-old comic-book aficionado from New Jersey decided to collect and donate thousands of comic books to veterans in hospitals and servicemen deployed overseas. The mastermind of carlscomix.com, Scheckel gathered roughly 3,500 books for the nearby Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, When he arrived to donate them in person, officers treated him to a surprise VIP tour of the base, where he got to try on military gear and explore the inside of a place. ‘It was the best day of my life!’ wrote Carl on his website.

(17) AN OPPORTUNITY ON MARS. It’s been there for over 13 years! “Mars rover reaches site that scientists still can’t explain”.

Opportunity, which is much, much smaller than its car-sized Curiosity cousin, was sent to Perseverance Valley in hopes of shedding some light on its origins. Scientists studying Mars know that the valley was carved by some dramatic force, but with a handful of possibilities including water, wind, and even muddy rocks, there’s still no clear answer. With the rover in place, researchers plan to use its observations to generate a detailed map which will be used to plan the vehicle’s driving route along the rim and eventually into the valley itself.

(18) ON THE WAY TO THE FINAL FRONTIER. I found out about LUNAR from BoingBoing:

Motion designer Christian Stangl and composer Wolfgang Stangl created this gorgeous short film, titled LUNAR, from thousands of NASA photographs taken by astronauts.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Scott Edelman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

91 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/17/17 Round Up The Usual Pixels

  1. The appertainment is open! And I’m facedown in it…. A major update to my Windows browser installed today, which I believe has something to do with the way WordPress is turning every hyphen, single quote, double quote and ellipsis into a multi-character mess. I just spent an hour manually correcting those — having failed to deduce a way to save the file in a form that WordPress could digest.

  2. (5) STEAMPUNK BIBLIOPHILE RETURNS.

    It looks as though there is a corresponding link missing here.

  3. (4) Loved John Ostrander’s work with the Spectre for DC. Pretty amazing stuff.

    [Wrath-of-Godstalk]

  4. @Mike,
    Ouch! I feel your pain.

    (1) THE REAL AMERICAN GODS.
    The SJW credentials are strongheavy in this one.

    (4) THOSE SIDEKICKS, THEY DO GET WEARY.
    Well, if we’re typo-spotting today:
    …including one – Jason Todd – who was killed by the Joker.

    (11) KIDPROOFING.
    I suspect John King Tarpinian underestimates the allure of cookies.

    (16) THE BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE.
    Awww. Lovely story.

  5. Well, obviously the thing to do is make a joke where I type a bunch of gibberish and say, “Oh no!” Only I don’t have the heart for it, so check the alternative universes for the one where I did and see just how funny it turned out.

    Ya gotta scroll that lonesome pixel.

  6. To quote Buzz Aldrin from his talk at the recent Silicon Valley Comic Con with respect to the lunar surface, “I don’t know how many shades of grey there were…Fifty maybe.”

  7. Appertainment tub party!

    I am afflicted with literary disappointment. First, that new Stephen King novella was not only disappointing, it was too short … (rim shot).

    Second, even though I nominated, the website of packet dispensement said I wasn’t a member for purposes of packeting. So I went ahead and registered for the 2018 one in San Jose, which I was going to do anyway. I’m spending some major bucks trying to get some free stuff here, hopefully it’ll be worth it.

    Then when I registered, the website started suggesting “nearby” hotels in places like Cupertino and Santa Cruz (about an hour away from the convention center but it’s a lovely drive). So I thought I’d warn non-Northern Californians to watch out for that.

    I am re-reading The Forever War until this wave of bad bookarma subsides.

  8. Charon D.even though I nominated, the website of packet dispensement said I wasn’t a member for purposes of packeting. So I went ahead and registered for the 2018 one in San Jose, which I was going to do anyway. I’m spending some major bucks trying to get some free stuff here, hopefully it’ll be worth it.

    You’re still not a member for purposes of this year’s packeting. You have to be an Attending or Supporting Member of Worldcon 75 in order to get the packet. 😐

  9. @JJ Ai caramba! Free stuff is way too expensive these days! Oh well, now I’ve got an option on some future free stuff assuming Trump doesn’t get us all killed in the meantime.

    *dives into appertainment vat*

  10. 13) By now, I’m beginning to wonder if Jon Del Arroz is doing Chuck Tingle like performance art, because his posts are so hilariously over the top (now Tor is oppressing him by deleting his self-promoting comments) it’s hard to imagine anybody really behaving like that. On the other hand, puppies will always find a way to surprise you.

    15) I will have to read this now.

  11. Cora: By now, I’m beginning to wonder if Jon Del Arroz is doing Chuck Tingle like performance art, because his posts are so hilariously over the top (now Tor is oppressing him by deleting his self-promoting comments)

    If only he were that self-aware. He is a stunning exemplar of Dunning-Kruger, I’ll give him that. 🙄

  12. (13) That’s a good pun. It’s sad to think it might be the highlight of his writing career.

  13. (1) She’s not sorry, and she shouldn’t be. I approve of the ones made calico, though tortie would have been better for Zorya IMO. What does Neil think?

    (6) Heh. Reminds me of that time Kevin had to preside over a hastily-convened and moderately confused Westercon business meeting (I didn’t even know we had ’em!) because of an amendment of his own.

    (7) What a waste of beer! Just drink it, don’t bathe in it.

    (11) Absolutely nothing would have kept child-lurkertype away from cookies. This might keep adults out, though.

    (13) “Best”. I do not think that word means what he thinks it means. It’s barely a pun, and not funny. Although I suppose his Twitter is a safe space for Puppies.

    (15) I’ll be reading Chuck’s packet submission (which sounds like a porno title, doesn’t it?) tomorrow.

    @Tom: must admit I laughed when Buzz said that.

  14. @lurkertype

    What does Neil think?

    I spotted it because Gaiman retweeted it, so I think we can safely say he approves of the Americat Gods.

    Anyone else been watching the series? It’s taking things very slowly and really getting over the essence of the books, with long “elsewhere in America” style scenes (e.g. the taxi driving Djinn this week). I’m enjoying it, but I’m also worried it’ll take about 6 seasons to get through the book.

  15. a failed Beat poet goes over the edge while exploring the long-abandoned Government Lethal Chambers.

    I first read a failed Bear Poet and now I really want to read (or write?) THAT story.

  16. Pixel, pixel, pixel
    Though the streams are swizzled
    Keep them scrollin’ pixels
    Scrollhide

    I shall claim that my inspirations are Jake and Elwood Scroll, of the Good Ole’ Scroll Brothers Boys Band.

  17. Peer on May 18, 2017 at 1:21 am said:

    I first read a failed Bear Poet and now I really want to read (or write?) THAT story.

    The works of A.A. Milne spring to mind…

    The more it scrolls
    (tiddley-pom)
    The more it goes
    (tiddley-pom)
    on scrolling

  18. 4) I am reminded of the movie SKY HIGH, with Bruce Campbell bellowing “Sidekick!” at a would-be hero because his lack of super powers don’t make the grade.

    @JJ Oof.

    7) Sadly, I don’t have the vacation time to do this! Waah!
    (on the other hand, in 9 days, I leave for the DUFF trip to NZ and Australia, so I will shut up now!)

  19. In The Netherlands there is a yearly event organised by the libraries where everybody reads the same book. The book is available for free (to own) at all libraries and all kinds of events are organised around it. This year the theme is ‘Robotica’, and for adults the book chosen is (in Dutch translation) Asimov’s ‘I, Robot’. For more info (in Dutch) see here: Nederland Leest

  20. 2016 Novel Reading

    It’s been ages since I last posted mini-reviews, and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Here’s the first batch:

    The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson [Cosmere/Mistborn/Wax and Wayne #3]
    TorBooks / Gollancz , edited by Moshe Feder
    Tor cover art by Chris McGrath
    Gollancz cover art by Sam Green
    maps and symbols by Isaac Stewart
    broadsheet illustrations by Ben McSweeney
    Synopsis and What I thought: I was going to read all three Wax and Wayne novels. I really enjoyed the original three Mistborn novels, and Elantris and Warbreaker, and was hoping for more of the fascinating fantasy. But this trilogy consists of Westerns set in the Mistborn universe, hundreds of years after the first trilogy. The first one, The Alloy of Law, was a lot of gunporn mixed with a lot of descriptions of superpowers and their usage, and a trope-ridden plot. Crusty, swaggering Western lawmen? Check. Wise-cracking buddies? Check. Heroes with superpowers? Check. Evil superpowered nemesis? Check. Plucky, competent young woman? Check. Said young woman pining for the hero she can’t have? Check.

    I mean, it’s a fine read, if you enjoy novels in that vein — but I decided that it was not engaging enough for me to read the sequels, Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning. I kind of feel as though Sanderson is phoning it in on this one. I’m going to give The Stormlight Archive novels a try instead.

    Summer in Orcus by Ursula Vernon (complete text)
    Red Wombat Studio
    cover art and design by Ursula Vernon
    Synopsis: (jacket copy) When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard, eleven-year-old Summer enters into a bargain for her heart’s desire. Her search will take her to the strange, surreal world of Orcus, where birds talk, women change their shape, and frogs sometimes grow on trees. But underneath the whimsy of Orcus lies a persistent darkness, and Summer finds herself hunted by the monstrous Houndbreaker, who serves the distant, mysterious Queen-in-Chains…
    What I thought: Call it YA, call it whatever you want… this work is absolutely AMAZING. I – an admitted non-YA reader – am quite happy to admit that I loved this. Young people may be able to enjoy it, but adults, I think, will find it absolutely entrancing. I don’t know how this author manages to make me love her writing – but manage it, she does indeed. Reading this made me feel like a deer caught in the headlights of some arcane witchery.

    Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
    Mulholland Books / Little, Brown, editor unknown
    cover photograph by Arcangel/Getty Images, design by Oliver Munday
    map by Dennis Brown
    Synopsis: This is an alternate history of a modern-day U.S. much like ours – except that a President-elect Lincoln was assassinated before being inaugurated, shocking everyone so much that they hastily drew up Constitutional Amendments to allow 4 slavery states to remain slaveowning forevermore, instead of having a Civil War. The “Hard Four”, as the slavery states are called, are restricted to doing business with other countries, since their products are embargoed by the rest of the free states. And the Underground Railroad is still there, a highly-compartmented, secretive structure of slavery opponents who help to sneak the slaves over the border from their slave state into the free states, providing them with new identities and new lives as free human beings. A former escaped slave, threatened with being returned to servitude, has instead taken the option of becoming a highly-trained secret investigator who tracks down, and returns, escaped slaves.
    What I thought: I thought that this novel was very well done (bearing in mind that I’m white), in terms of giving insight into what life was like for slaves – and what things are still like for black people today. The protagonist is a very believable, ethically ambiguous character fighting his thinly-buried PTSD and embattled conscience to do what he must in order to save himself, rather than doing what he knows is morally right. My only disappointments with the book were 1) The only real speculative element (apart from a bit of tech which is probably not far off from what exists today) is that it’s alt-history. There’s not really any other science-fictional aspect to it – and a strong SFnal aspect would be an important part of what makes a book hit my sweet spot. 2) The deus ex machina ending is a bit of a letdown. Nevertheless, this is a disturbing, but enlightening, book – and definitely well worth reading.

    The Gate to Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda [Clan Chronicles: Reunification #2]
    DAW Books, edited by Sheila Gilbert
    cover art by Matt Stawicki, design by G-Force Design
    Synopsis: The next installment in the Reunification subseries of The Clan Chronicles, this story picks up where This Gulf of Time and Stars left off, with Sira, Jason, and the other Om’ray and M’hiray fleeing the planet Cersi in a spaceship sent from their home world centuries before. But the story of who they really are, and why they left, has been lost with the ages – and they have no idea what they will find when their ship comes out the other side.
    What I thought: I really enjoyed the Trade Pact and Stratification trilogies, which I read in quick succession back in 2013. But when it came time last year to read the most recent installment, the first of the Reunification novels, I wasn’t willing to take the time to do a re-read, and so found it a bit of a struggle to remember where the last book had left off (although a lot of details did gradually come back to me as I read). I thought that my appreciation of the book suffered because of that – and apparently the author got similar feedback from other readers, because this latest entry includes a summary section prior to the start of the book, which really helps. Fans of the series will enjoy this one; it contains some excellent story and world-building advancement – but anyone who hasn’t read the prior books will be pretty lost, I think. I do strongly recommend all three trilogies, starting with A Thousand Words for Stranger (which placed 9th on Locus’ First Novel list in 1998). The third Reunification novel, To Guard Against the Dark, comes out in October 2017.

    The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel [Central Corps #1]
    Harper Voyager, edited by David Pomerico and Natasha Bardon
    cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Richard L. Aquan
    Synopsis: (jacket copy) When her crewmate, Danny, is murdered on the colony of Volhynia, Central Corps chief engineer, Commander Elena Shaw, is shocked to learn the main suspect is her lover, Treiko Zajec. She knows Trey is innocent – he was with her when Danny was killed. So who is the real killer and why are the cops framing an innocent man? Retracing Danny’s last hours, they discover that his death may be tied to a mystery from the past: the explosion of a Central Corps starship at a wormhole near Volhynia. For twenty-five years, the Central Gov has been lying about the tragedy, even willing to go to war with the outlaw PSI to protect their secrets. With the authorities closing in, Elena and Trey head to the wormhole, certain they’ll find answers on the other side. But the truth that awaits them is far more terrifying than they ever imagined… a conspiracy deep within Central Gov that threatens all of human civilization throughout the inhabited reaches of the galaxy – and beyond.
    What I thought: I have to admit, based on the comments of at least one Filer, I did not have high hopes for this. However… I loved it. The story opens with a pretty hot sex scene: 1) if you’re into this, know that it’s really the only one in the book; 2) if you’re not really interested in this, you can skim it as I did, and get on with the story. I read this novel in one sitting, because I found it so engaging and interesting. Space adventure, engineers, interesting worldbuilding, engineers, good character development, engineers – this book really hit my sweet spot. I am currently chomping at the bit to read the 2016 sequel, Remnants of Trust, but my Hugo reading comes first.

    Vigil by Angela Slatter [Verity Fassbinder #1]
    Jo Fletcher Books, editor unknown
    cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Richard L. Aquan
    Synopsis: Half-human, half-weyrd Verity Fassbinder can walk the line between the denizens of those two worlds, and so she is entrusted by the supernatural creatures to keep the peace, shield the humans from becoming aware of them, and – when crimes involving the weyrd occur – investigating and ensuring that their fragile hidden existence is not threatened. When Sirens start being found dead and dying, horribly mutilated, it’s up to Verity to find the culprit and stop them before an unthinkable confrontation between the two worlds occurs.
    What I thought: Even though I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Urban Fantasy, I keep encountering books in that genre which I really enjoy. This is one of them. I tried it on the strength of really loving her 2015 novella Of Sorrow and Such, and I was glad that I did. It’s a detective murder mystery featuring a flawed but likeable protagonist, with bonus fantasy worldbuilding – and if you think that might appeal, I strongly recommend this. The sequel, Corpselight, comes out in July 2017, and I will definitely be picking it up.

    Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen
    Thomas Dunne Books / St Martin’s Press, edited by Pete Wolverton
    cover art by David Curtis, design by Lisa Marie Pompilio
    Synopsis: Kangaroo is a spy, nicknamed for the special quantum space pouch of unlimited capacity which he controls. Extensively trained in spycraft and espionage, he is a closely-held secret of his agency. When he bungles a mission – not for the first time – and a bureaucratic audit looms, his superior sends him on a holiday trip to Mars. But Kangaroo doesn’t know how to stop being a spy, and when two bodies turn up on the ship, he has to figure out what’s going on without blowing his cover.
    What I thought: I’ve got to admit that I was dubious about this book, given the seemingly stupid title – but I loved it. The premise is somewhat similar to that of Paul Cornell’s Jonathan Hamilton series, which is one of my favorites. The titular character has a dry, sarcastic wit of the sort I enjoy, and this is a great, smart action-adventure. While a complete story, there is plenty of setup here for future adventures, and I’m really looking forward to more stories featuring this protagonist. Kangaroo Too comes out in July 2017.

    The Falls by Kristine Kathryn Rusch [Diving Universe #5]
    WMG Publishing, editor unknown
    cover art by Philcold/Dreamtime, design by Allyson Longueira
    Synopsis: This installment is set around 10,000 years before the 4 earlier Diving Universe books, when The Fleet was relatively young. Sector Base E-2 has been a thriving community for generations, and the city which has grown up around it has become a major tourist destination due to the stunning scenery in the area, especially the spectacular Fiskett Falls. But when a base engineer on his usual scenic walk home after work discovers a body in the pool below the falls, a cascade of secrets and lies are uncovered.
    What I thought: Because I really love this series, I splurged on a re-read of the first 4 books. The last one, Skirmishes, leaves off in a really good place for further adventures. Instead, this novel is a prequel – but a thoroughly enjoyable one (and with a little bit of a tie-back to the series’ present day). Rusch is a prolific award-winning author in several genres, including the mystery field, and here she has accomplished a skillful blend of science fiction and murder mystery which kept ratcheting up the stakes and had me avidly reading right through to the end. While books 2, 3, and 4 really shouldn’t be read without reading the first book, this one does well as a standalone, I think. Novel #6, The Runabout, debuted in Asimov’s April/May issue (though I haven’t got to it yet due to Hugo reading), and the book will be released in September.

    Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson [Fractured Europe #3]
    Solaris, editor unknown
    cover art by Clint Langley
    Synopsis: In a modern-day Europe which co-exists with a parallel alternate Europe and trade and travel between the two have become somewhat normalized, a spate of terrorist attacks results in sometime-spy, sometime-chef Rudi being tasked to find out what’s behind it all, before catastrophe turns into cataclysm.
    What I thought: I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, and this one – the 2017 BSFA winner – is a worthy conclusion to the trilogy. This series is a bit dark, with some grim and eerily-prescient echoes of what is actually going on in Europe right now. A willing suspension of disbelief is required for enjoyment, but is well-rewarded here.

    Company Town by Madeline Ashby [ # ]
    Tor Books, edited by Miriam Weinberg
    cover art by Erik Mohr
    Synopsis: Company Town is a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, owned by the wealthy and powerful Lynch family empire. Like all cities, its populace exist in a multitude of social and economic strata. In a world where bioengineered enhancements are commonplace and expected, the rebellious Hwa is the last fully-organic holdout; for which she has compensated by becoming an expert in fighting and bodyguarding — a way to maintain her fierce but precarious independence. Then the Lynch CEO and patriarch hires her to protect his young son, the heir, from mysterious death threats.
    What I thought: I started reading this book, and was engrossed in it, when I began to get an increasingly intense sense of déjà vu – culminating, at the end of the second chapter, in the realization that I had indeed read some of it before, as the story “Come From Away” in the anthology Upgraded, edited by Neil Clarke. Which got me really enthused, because it was one of my Short Story nominees for the 2015 Hugos. I’ve since read a review which pointed out some of the worldbuilding issues in this book, but honestly, I enjoyed it enough to not be too bothered by that, and I would be interested in reading more adventures with this protagonist.

    After The Crown by K.B. Wagers [Indranan War #2]
    Orbit / Ace Books, edited by Kelly O’Connor
    cover images Arcangel and Shutterstock, design by Lauren Panepinto
    Synopsis: I previously raved about the first book in this series, Behind the Throne, which is a much darker, grittier space-opera-mystery-adventure version of The Goblin Emperor, the story of a reluctant royal heir dragged back from their life as a smuggler to run the empire when all of their family members are assassinated. This book picks up with their life on the throne: a daily gauntlet of negotiation and uncertainty amid veiled threats and assassination attempts.
    What I thought: There is plenty of mystery and adventure yet to be had in this installment, including traitorous espionage, intergalactic maneuvering, and the threat of calamitous war. Book 3, Beyond The Empire, will be out in November 2017 and I am so going to be on it when it appears.

  21. @JJ Thanks for the reading update. I do need to read K.B WAgers, I have the first one lurking in the amazon (as are most of my books, with my old kindle dead and my new one relatively empty…)

  22. I don’t find anything amusing, inventive, or interesting in the works of Chuck Tingle.

    There, I’ve said it.

  23. Clack: I tried some of Dr Tingle’s fiction and it didn’t work for me either. That’s OK. There’s no need for “there I said it” – there’s nothing to fear about disliking a book or a writer here. You’re not the first. I’m sure there are other books beloved by the majority of filers that I don’t like. If one comes up in discussion and it seems relevant, I’ll admit that too.

    But while I couldn’t get into his stories, Tingle’s trolling of the pups last Hugo cycle was an absolute delight to me and I would be more than happy to see him take home a shiny rocket.

  24. @JJ

    Summer in Orcus – ain’t it just great?

    After The Crown – I really liked this too – both installments so far have been fun, entertaining, quick reads. This one increases the scope of the story nicely and I’ve got #3 pre ordered.

  25. @Clack:

    I don’t find anything amusing, inventive, or interesting in the works of Chuck Tingle.

    There, I’ve said it.

    It’s ok, I don’t get why everyone is enthralled with Neil Gaiman. I mean, I read American Gods, and it was clever enough, but it left me with no desire to read his other stuff, or watch the series. No book or writer can please everyone.

  26. Mister Dalliard: Tingle’s trolling of the pups last Hugo cycle was an absolute delight to me

    Likewise, I have no interest whatsoever in Tingle’s erotica — but the way he turned the tables on the Puppies last year and showed them for the idiot trolls that they are, was absolutely priceless.

    There’s a public Storify of a bunch of his tweets from last year which really sums it up beautifully.

    Whether I think that he needs a rocket for that, when I consider the quality of a couple of the other Fan Writer Finalists this year — well, that’s debatable.

    Nevertheless, he will have my everlasting thanks for finding the unicorn pony in the room full of shit that the Puppies served up last year. It made the whole thing a lot more bearable for me, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of other people feel that way, too.

  27. @JJ
    I loved The Cold Between, too, and Elizabeth Bonesteel was on my Campbell ballot, but it seems to be something of a “love it or hate it” book. As for the sex scene early on, I don’t mind sex scenes as long as they’re not gratuitous. And besides, this one is absolutely necessary for the plot.

    The sequel Remnants of Trust is very good as well, though sadly there is no Trey. Also, by the time I was halfway through the sequel, I wondered why anybody sticks with Central Corps and they don’t all join PSI since PSI is so much cooler and less corrupt.

    There is a third book, Breach of Containment, out in fall and I for one am looking forward to it.

  28. I’d prefer to be a safe space elevator, for obvious reasons.

    “In the safe space elevator, nobody can hear you inviting someone to your room for coffee.”

  29. Kangaroo is a spy

    (Derisive snort) So the book is ripping off Math Patrol?

  30. @Mark: I watched the first two episodes, but found the style so gratingly, pointlessly weird (as opposed to say, Legion, which was enthrallingly, pointedly weird) that I lost interest. Although I did think the opening of episode two with Orlando Jones as Anansi was searing. I’ve never read the book.

  31. @John From GR: Here’s a rot-13’d hint: Oernx bar bs gur jbeqf hc vagb gjb, gura nqq n jbeq ol gnxvat gur gjb yrggref ba rvgure fvqr bs gur oernx. It’s more witty than it is funny, and not a pun that reading aloud would help. It’s textual and not oral. It took me a very long time to get it. It’s not bad, but even I’ve written better.

  32. @JJ

    Bands of Mourning – Maybe it’s because I love Westerns but I really enjoyed these. The first one was probably the weakest of the three as after that it was able to do more with the tropes it set up. I still have some criticisms of it but as a weird western fan it was right up my alley.

    Waypoint Kangaroo – I really enjoyed how this one walked the fine line of serious/comedic and pulled it off to be both make me laugh while also drawing me in. I hope there’ll be a sequel.

  33. @JJ: (MilSF Bundle)

    The best thing about finding that bundle, for me, was the news that Wordfire Press is making ebook editions of the Phule’s Company series. (The first three are out, with the remaining volumes forthcoming at some unspecified time.) My paperbacks are serviceable, but I’d prefer ebooks – and I find it difficult to swallow the idea of that series being in any way Puppyish.

  34. “What has it got in its Pixelses”
    “When a Pixel Meets a Pixel, Scrolling through the rye”

  35. Gaiman’s sequel is going to feature a conflict between old-style holy books and modern digital catalogues: American Godreads.

  36. 10) ‘An alien (left) and William Gibson.’

    Well played, Vulture.

    I’ve got 99 pixels but a scroll ain’t one.

  37. @Matt Y

    Waypoint Kangaroo – I really enjoyed how this one walked the fine line of serious/comedic and pulled it off to be both make me laugh while also drawing me in. I hope there’ll be a sequel.

    Kangaroo Too is coming out June 20th. (I’ve had a hold on it at our library ever since Scalzi posted received the ARC for it.)

  38. I first read a failed Bear Poet and now I really want to read (or write?) THAT story.

    The works of A.A. Milne spring to mind…

    “What is this room for, Pooh” asked Piglet
    “I dont think its for honey” answered Pook.
    Piglet and Pooh looked at the the long-abandonded Goverment Lethal chambers for a long time.
    “I think I want to go home, Pooh” said Piglet.
    “Me too” said Pooh.
    And the two friends walked home together and ate some honey.
    Because best friends share everything. Especially some nice, sweet honey, after seeing something disturbing.

  39. @Soon Lee re @11: my partner’s reaction: “He doesn’t know some of the kids I know.” For starters, the entirely realistic younger daughter in Stone Soup….

    @Charon D: the website started suggesting “nearby” hotels in places like Cupertino and Santa Cruz I hope Kevin is paying attention; sounds like something is seriously wrong with the site. (I don’t see anything about hotels, but I figure they have to have had Greg Brown letters with enough rooms in walking distance of the convention center, especially since they didn’t run unopposed.) ISTM that the site should also not start by loading “releases”, especially when the last two are pleading for specialty volunteers — NOT the way to pull in people.

    @JJ: ISTM that the Maguffin in Underground Airlines is definitely stfnal; if we’re thinking about the same thing (fhssvpvragyl erjevgvat fbzrbar’f trargvp pbqr gung n enaqbz fnzcyr jvyy fubj gurz gb or abg uhzna naq urapr rafynirnoyr jvgubhg yvzvg) I think it’s more of a reach than you do, and it’s actualized rather than just theorized/planned (the line a fellow fan used to draw between present-day SF and straight adventure novels). I’d also be happier than you seem to be with a pure uchronia (I’m still a huge fan of The Alteration), but that’s personal taste.

  40. Alternatively:

    And it’s up against the file, Pixel Scroller
    Scroller who has stalked her god so well
    She’s fifty-five and drinkin’ in appertainment
    Just snarkin’ Puppies postings and raisin’ hell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *