Pixel Scroll 12/7 Mr. Mxyzpixelstalk

(1) ROCK’N ROLL. From the Guardian: “Stonehenge may have been first erected in Wales, evidence suggests”.

It has long been known that the bluestones that form Stonehenge’s inner horseshoe came from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, around 140 miles from Salisbury Plain.

Now archaeologists have discovered a series of recesses in the rocky outcrops of Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin, to the north of those hills, that match Stonehenge’s bluestones in size and shape. They have also found similar stones that the prehistoric builders extracted but left behind, and “a loading bay” from where the huge stones could be dragged away.

Carbonised hazelnut shells and charcoal from the quarry workers’ campfires have been radiocarbon-dated to reveal when the stones would have been extracted.

Prof Mike Parker Pearson, director of the project and professor of British later prehistory at University College London (UCL), said the finds were “amazing”.

“We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” he said. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument, somewhere near the quarries, that was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire.”

Spoils of war? A demonstration of imperial hegemony, like the monuments that were moved to Constantinople?

(2) YEAR’S WORST SF? Vivenne Raper, in “[Review] The Hunger Tower by Pan Haitian”, concurs with Rocket Stack Rank that this might be the worst story published this year.

 #2 The Crack-Fic Trophy for Unintended Erotica

Some writers devote whole blogposts to describing characters. Other writers, however, don’t bother with all that… or correcting translation errors/missing words.

we must band together in this time calamity,*” the captain said. It comforted them all a little to look up at his ruggedly unyielding gray eyes, his muscular neck, his sturdy and well-defined chest.

I expected Fifty Shades of Cannibalism after the ‘ruggedly unyielding gray eyes’. Happily, that didn’t happen, but the author did attempt other descriptions, including this classic:

Vivienne warns that reading this story may lead you to think your own writing isn’t that bad…

(3) IS TREK DOOMED? M.J. Moore argues “Why Star Trek Won’t Make it to the 23rd Century” at SF Signal.

So what do viewers want if not honest to goodness space exploration?

Survival, plain and simple. For a long time now the market has been saturated with Will Smith battling aliens over the White House; the remnants of Earth being overrun by aliens; aliens posing as humans in order to infiltrate and destroy mankind; even young kids with super-minds seeking to destroy an alien race before it destroys us. The big fantasy-books-turned-movies share this focus with the likes of The Hunger Games and Divergent series’.

Consider the hot sci-fi TV shows right now: Killjoys, Extant, Dark Matter, Defiance, Falling Skies. These programs are not about finding peace or new discovery. These shows take an extremely close, dark look at the ‘what if everything went wrong?’ and the ‘how do we deal with life now?’ questions. Our collective fear of the unknown and drive to believe that we can survive against these odds leaves the sci-fi of the current era little room for innocent wonder. We’ve transitioned from an open, outreaching ideal into a people obsessed with self-preservation – and who can blame us? Look at what we’re dealing with today: global warming, terrorism, nation-wide hatred that spawns one blood bath after another.

(4) A PROFILE IN COURAGE. Kameron Hurley details “Why I Chose to Write Publicly About Anxiety”.

…We look at super star writers and we think it must all be easy for them (I certainly do), and that if it isn’t easy for us, that we’re doing something wrong (I always think I’m doing it wrong).

That’s why I wrote this column for Locus Magazine this month.

Note that – though I spoke about anxiety issues back in July – I waited quite a while to make a post about having to go on medication for it. I started meds in October, right before Empire Ascendant came out, but I still had one more book draft to complete before the end of the year, and I didn’t want to be open (beyond a few vague tweets) about this until I’d turned in that book (or a VERY rough draft of it). I’ve cautioned writers before in being too open about their physical or mental health when things are bad. I’ve heard from a lot of writers (including the late Jay Lake) about how people stopped offering them opportunities on the assumption that they were unable or would be unwilling to tackle them. I didn’t want people to count me out, but I had to wait until I knew I was already better before noting that, you know, back in July I was a fucking nut and yeah, no, it just kept getting worse. This summer was pretty bad. But I had so much work to do by year’s end that I didn’t want to share that with anyone. I’d also hazard a guess that I’d have missed out on some opportunities that came in later in the year if I’d have been too open about just how fucking crazy things were.

Your mileage may vary, but I’d heard of too many writers burned by this. I hedged my bets and wrote the Locus post back in October knowing it would go live in December after I was sane and functioning again….

(5) ACCESS PLEDGE. Ann Leckie’s new post “Access” announces:

I am signing on to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Convention Accessibility Pledge. I’m doing it in this blog post because I think it’s important as many people as possible are aware of this issue.

I’m not going to pull out of convention appearances that I’ve already committed to. (And as it happens, ConFusion and Vericon have both assured me they’re taking accessibility issues seriously, so kudos to them.) But going forward, I will only attend cons that meet the (let’s be honest, pretty minimal) criteria outlined in MRK’s post….

But having a con inside a dry, heated and/or cooled building with sufficient space for people to move around and stairs between floors is in fact an accommodation. We just don’t think of it as one, since we’re used to seeing that particular attention to our needs and comfort as normal and understandable and worth going to some effort to ensure. And yes, stairs are an accommodation. What, you can’t climb up that rope ladder to the next floor?

Claims that arranging in advance to have some ramps or lifts on standby is just too much trouble or expense are, frankly, claims that the needs and comfort of members who need them just don’t matter to you….

(6) Today In History

  • December 7, 1972 — Apollo 17 was launched on the last scheduled manned mission to the moon.

(7) Today’s Birthday Girl

  • Born December 7, 1915 – Leigh Brackett

Stephen Haffner and the Haffner Press celebrated Leigh Brackett’s 100th Birthday with a long autobiographical quote.

I sold my first story (in late 1939, to Astounding) largely because of two things. First, because this same grandfather had a sure and quiet faith in me, and showed it by financing me in my chance to write when I was quite old enough to make my own living. Second, because one Henry Kuttner, of whom you may have heard, chose to think my wobbling and misshapen efforts had some promise, and went out of his way to help me develop it.

 “I have been writing for a living ever since, mostly in science fiction, sometimes in detective stories, for three years and a bit in the Hollywood studios (Columbia, Republic and Warner’s), and a very brief excursion into radio. I like to write. There are times, I’ll admit, when I wish I had chosen the profession of ditch-digging instead. (In all honesty, I’ll have to qualify that last. Since moving to the country I have actually dug a ditch, and I believe that writing is easier.) But it’s a satisfying job and one that constantly expands and changes because you can never possibly learn everything about it. You ask what my philosophy of writing is—I don’t know that I have any. To tell a good story, to tell it as well and effectively as possible, and to try to grow a little wiser and a little deeper all the time—I suppose, put into words, that’s what I aim at. Whether or not I hit it is another matter entirely.

The Haffner Press will also be thrilled if you preorder its Leigh Brackett Centennial  collection.

Discovered by editor Stephen Haffner, Brackett’s unpublished story “They” leads off this tribute volume collecting the majority of Brackett’s nonfiction writings, supplemented with vintage interviews and commentaries/remembrances from such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock, Richard A. Lupoff, and more.

 

Leigh Brackett

Leigh Brackett

(8) EVEN MORE MST3K. The “Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000” Kickstarter has raised almost double the funds they set as the original goal, $2,000,000. They can already pay for six new episodes. Another three will be produced if they reach $4,400,000. With four days to go, 32,181 backers have pledged $3,89,247.

(9) James H. Burns has two spoiler questions about the new Hunger Games film (but they aren’t really spoilers, and he’s pretty sure the answer may be in the books):  How can seventy-five blocks possibly be so long?  (in most American cities, that would take, at most, 90 minutes to 2 hours to cross); and how can the Capitol’s government possibly not have heat imaging, or even more advanced technology, to spot the “intruders”?

(10) ZOMBIE STALKER. Fansided reports “Norman Reedus bitten by fan at Walker Stalker Con”.

Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead was reportedly bitten at Walker Stalker Convention in New York/New Jersey by a fan who is now banned from future WSC events.

Turns out that Norman Reedus has to watch out for biters even when he’s not on the set of AMC’s hit zombie survival drama The Walking Dead.

According to several reports, a female fan was standing in front of Spoil The Dead member Michael Bowman in the line for photo opportunities with Reedus and Michael Rooker at Walker Stalker Con NY/NJ around 2:50 pm when it was her turn to get a picture taken.

The woman approached the two actors and told Norman Reedus a story about how she likes to pretend that she’s married to him. After a moment, security ran in and restrained the woman, explaining that she was to be removed for biting the The Walking Dead star and saying “Um….ma’am. You just bit Norman Reedus.”

(11) IT AIN’T SF. LOL! ScienceFiction.com leads with a droll headline — “Defying All Expectations: ‘Star Wars’ Not Science-Fiction Claims ‘The Force Awakens’ Scribe”.

‘Star Wars’ writing veteran Lawrence Kasdan has made an interesting statement recently while speaking to Wired about ‘Star Wars.’ According to the long-time screenwriter, he believes that the epic space-opera is not actually part of the sci-fi genre, as for him, the franchise in many ways seems to stand outside of any genre. In his own words:

“Star Wars is its own genre. It’s not really science fiction. It’s really something on its own, fantasy and myth and science fiction and Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa all mixed up together. For that reason, like all genre it can hold a million different kinds of artists and stories… It can be anything you want it to be.”

(12) IMPROVING AS A WRITER. Max Florschutz’ advice for “Being a Better Writer: Always Keep Learning”.

See, there’s a mindset out there in the world today—one that’s certainly not limited to writers, mind—that stipulates that once we reach a certain “point,” usually vaguely defined by some milestone or outside individual, we can “stop learning.” There’s no need to go on. We’ve succeeded. We don’t need to learn anything anymore. We’ve conquered the need for education, and all we need to do now is continue in our craft….

But here’s the real truth behind it. You’re never going to hit that peak. Those people who think that there is a perfect moment where one can just “stop learning” because they know it all are of the same mindset as those individuals who think there is a limited amount of “good fiction” and that other authors need to stop writing so that someone else can have their attention (no, I’m not joking, there’s a whole movement of people with that mindset protesting against authors who are doing well and telling them to stop because they’re hogging the limited resource of readers) or that the publishers should be the only vetting source of books (and not, you know, the public).

(13) AMERICA’S WIZARD COLLEGE. “My crowdfunding campaign: College for wizards”, Abha Bhattari’s recent column “On Small Business” in the Washington Post, was devoted to how two people from Richmond raised nearly $300,000 to host “New World Magichola:  A College of Wizardry Larp” where people will spend four days and up to $920 in a workshop to create “an entire North American magical universe” in Richmond.

The Kickstarter page with lots of photos and videos is here.

Raised: $232,062 (as of Nov. 25) of a $35,000 goal. The campaign goes through Jan. 4.

What’s the pitch?

Get your wand ready. Wizardry school is just around the corner.

At New World Magischola, students will get the chance to take courses in a range of subjects including alchemy, magical theory and poisons.

They will receive a costume, robe and a magic textbook when they arrive and will be tasked with warding off  evil entities and saving civilization — all while in character.

Brown and her co-founder Benjamin Morrow, 38, came up with the idea for the live-action role play event after attending a similar workshop at a castle in Poland last year. They spent six months creating a fantasy world called Magimundi.

“We thought it was high time that North American had its own magical universe,” Brown said.

In order to become wizards in this magical universe, students must complete one of five majors (choices include Cursebreaking and Cryptozoology) that will be offered next summer. Students will live on campus at the University of Richmond for the duration of the four-day, three-night program.

“You’ll get access to an entire North American magical universe,” Brown and Morrow write on their Kickstarter page. “We’ve designed a world, history, economy, characters, plots, sets, costumes, and magical creatures for you to interact with as your character.”

(14) WHO CHRISTMAS. The BBC has released two trailers for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song.”

It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from Christmas Carols and Comedy Antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon the Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious, and his giant Robot bodyguard is out-of-control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River Song work out who the Doctor is?

 

[Thanks to Gregory N. Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, James H. Burns, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

148 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/7 Mr. Mxyzpixelstalk

  1. Mike Glyer

    Beth in MA:

    What books would you get for someone who likes David Weber and John Ringo?

    Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein.

    Seconded. Really enjoyed that one.

    Otherwise the Expanse series is great fun as well.

  2. Beth in MA: A loud second (or by now third) for the Nagata sequence, to which I will add Greg Bear’s in-progress War Dogs-Killing Titan series and “Zachary Brown’s” Darkside War and its anticipated sequels. (Brown is a pen-name for Karen Lord and Tobias Buckell.)

    The mischievous imp on my right shoulder is whispering something about historical novels that might appeal to a military-SF reader: Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe and Anglo-Saxon series are serious enough about battlefield realities that I have to take breaks between volumes of both. And I always recommend George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books, though some might find their perverse-reversal ironies (and the relentless shitheel-ness of their narrator) more unpleasant than amusing.

  3. The above comment reminds me: one night about a week ago I was reading Monster Hunter International, got tired of the message fiction and switched books to Old Man’s War.

    Wow what a change. Since they were both first books I had expected them to be of roughly similar quality, but I guess Scalzi had been writing for years even if this was his first novel. Maybe writing nonfiction is good practice for writing fiction.

  4. @ Peace and others re nerdrage at DS9:

    I remember sneering comments about “DS 90210” (equating it to a popular show about teen romances) because of the focus on relationships. Of course, they never bitched about Kirk’s alien girlfriend of the week……

    A lot of the male fans I heard dissing it didn’t like the lack of a big powerful starship. And I am fairly sure that the African American commander and the two major female characters (Dax and Kira) also pissed many off as well.

    I had the sense that everything I loved about the show was a reason for some of the nerdrage.

    The religious and cultural issues that drove so many of the plots (now, I confess to my own nerdrage at how the final season/arcs ended) were fascinating. The relative powerlessness (in military and political terms) of the Federation in the borderlands of DS9 even more so; the larger than normal percentage of continuing characters who were not Federation and/or not human (or were neither Federation nor human) which I liked because so much more attention was given to storiers about those cultures I think also bothered fans who were fine with token aliens (ditto token women she says snarkily).

    And the fantastic meta elements (the episode Far Beyond the Stars in which Sisko has a dream/vision sent by the Prophets.

    Basically, Sisko experiences being a sf writer during the 1950s writing a story about a a Black commander (Sisko) which nobody will buy/believe (Kira plays a woman writer)–the two of them are told not to show up for a group picture of the magazine staff/writers.

    And of course the episode in which the DS9 crews has to go back in time and participate in the “Trouble with Tribbles” episode is fan LURVE.

    *happy sigh*.

    Loved that show (tried to publish an anthology of essays on it, but couldn’t ever get it placed–academic publishers going through a real slump then).

    (We also loved TNG as well–tried our best with VOY but gave up in bitterness after Season 4, bounced off the last Shall be Nameless One after 10 minutes).

  5. Maybe writing nonfiction is good practice for writing fiction.

    I’ve wondered if journalism helps. There are a number of authors who started out writing for newspapers or magazines who wound up being ace fiction writers. I’d like to think the demands of journalism might teach a certain clarity.

    The usual glib comment about journalism being its own brand of fiction.

  6. @Beth in MA: I’d recommend Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife series. Like Honor Harrington, but more believable and less annoying (She has a snarky AI instead of a magic kitty, there’s more ground fighting, and less politics). Plus there’s now 13 of ’em, so you’ve got gifts sorted for the future. No hardcover, so cheaper too.

  7. @ Jack Lint

    Having someone always keeping you to a certain word count probably helps encourage a brisk, pointed style and discourage wandering off into message also.

  8. > “I’ve wondered if journalism helps.”

    On this note, I’m reading Cold Comfort Farm right now, and in her Foreword Stella Gibbons writes, “You … will realize the magnitude of the task which confronted me when I found, after spending ten years as a journalist, learning to say exactly what I meant in short sentences, that I must learn, if I was to achieve literature and favourable reviews, to write as though I were not quite sure about what I meant but was jolly well going to say something all the same in sentences as long as possible.”

    (This book is hilarious.)

  9. Jack Lint

    Who can say? Frankly, the reporting on Donald Trump leaves me wishing that it is fiction, but no such luck. He’s managed to really piss off the London Metropolitan police, admittedly the hair helps to evoke loathing, but the words are what has outraged them; they are out on the streets doing their jobs while he claims they’re afraid and huddling in corners.

    Of course, he is totally ignorant of the existence of the City of London police, but they are steaming as well. They are also out on the streets, doing their jobs, which can be difficult logistically since 6000 people live here, and 240,000 work here. I survived, (just about) the rush hour because of an early medical appointment, but someone will have to write it up in correct form: 240,000 against 1, 1 won!

  10. @Kyra:

    Cold Comfort Farm is very funny indeed.

    It won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize for 1933, which infuriated Virginia Woolfe, who had the award pegged for one of her buddies. Woolfe scoffed that nobody important knew who Gibbons was and mourned the new rug her friend had been planning to buy with the prize money.

    I don’t know what book Woolfe was expecting to win, but Cold Comfort Farm is certainly deserving of acclaim.

    And it’s really funny, did I mention that?

  11. Peace, Kyra

    Cold Comfort Farm

    is unbelievable wonderful; it is hilarious but there is something below the frothy surface which grabs you, and never again lets go.

  12. +++What books would you get for someone who likes David Weber and John Ringo?+++

    Dan Abnett’s military SF might appeal. His Gaunt’s Ghosts series for Warhammer 40,000 has a lot of broader appeal, and because of its popularity you’ve got a good choice of standalones, omnibus collections and all kinds of special formats. The first book is called First and Only and the first of the omnibus series is called The Founding.

    If the tie-in books don’t appeal, Dan’s also done a pretty good standalone original mil-SF novel called Embedded, which is about a war journalist who get “chipped” into a soldier’s head to ride along on a mission. When said soldier takes a bad head wound his own consciousness blacks out, leaving the journalist in control of the soldier’s body while trapped behind enemy lines.

    He might like John Birmingham’s novels. “World War 2.0” starts with a super-tech naval battlegroup from a war-torn 2020s being catapulted back into the middle of WWII. There’s plenty of two-fisted military action but lots of fun too with the collision of the timelines (Stalin getting hold of the history of the next few decades and launching savage pre-emptive purges against the people who succeeded him; entrepreneurial time travellers hounding the seven-year-old Elvis Presley to sign over the future rights to songs they already own recordings of…) There are some spinoff e-releases that follow events into Cold War 2.0.

    He’s also done a trilogy called the Disappearance, about a mysterious energy wave that wipes North America clean of all animal life above the level of bugs and plants just as the Gulf War is about to begin, and what happens then. I think it’s a weaker series than WW2.0 but it has plenty of fans.

  13. Russell Letson: I second the recommendation for Flashman, although I feel compelled to throw in an obligatory pearl clutch — “Goodness gracious, that Mr. Flashman is such an awful bigoted racist sexist coward and all-around terrible person, I could barely get through reading his series several times!”

  14. PIMMN:

    It won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize for 1933, which infuriated Virginia Woolfe, who had the award pegged for one of her buddies. Woolfe scoffed that nobody important knew who Gibbons was and mourned the new rug her friend had been planning to buy with the prize money.

    And did Woolfe immediately egg on the more rabid of the Bloombury set to rort the jury so her own novels and those of her cronies and clients would win?

  15. For military sf:

    If they like David Weber’s “Pew pew Battleships in SPAAAAACE!!” (and who doesn’t?), try Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” series.

    John Ringo doesn’t appeal to me much – but you might find David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers” series or Walter John William’s “Praxis” series comparable.

  16. Cold Comfort Farm deserves ALL the prizes. I have loved it since that burnin’ noonday many years ago, when somewhat-larger-than-titty-wren me found something nasty in my junior high school library. Amos Starkadder’s sermon is still my go-to fire-and-brimstone, much better than any Jonathan Edwards.

  17. And the Cold Comfort Farm homage is why I voted for “Equoids” for the Hugo that year. It is apparent that Stross loves it too.

  18. Thank you, everyone, for such great suggestions! I really appreciate all of them, and have written them down for my next trip to the bookstore!

    I *knew* Filers would have great ideas! Again, thank you SO MUCH!!!

    (I, of course, got my list out right after Thanksgiving, with 2015 releases helpfully marked.)

    ::

  19. As a general Weber/Ringo fan, I’ll get behind the Kris Longknife books (and the related Jump Universe and Vicky Peterwald books) as well as the Lost Fleet series (the original six as well as both intertwining sequel series). Bujold’s solid, but there’s a rather different vibe to the Miles books. There’s also Travis Taylor’s “Tau Ceti Agenda” series, which is more typically Baenish, and his earlier Warp Speed and Quantum Connection books. (Your friend may have already discovered these; Taylor and Ringo co-authored the Looking Glass books.)

    One other series I’ll add – with the caveat that they’ve attracted my attention, but I haven’t reached them in the TBR stacks yet – is Tanya Huff’s “Valor” books. I have (the first?) four as a trio of Ent corpses; the first two were combined into an omnibus called A Confederacy of Valor.

    Finally, there’s another series that keeps pinging my radar, but I haven’t yet pulled the trigger. The author’s Nathan Lowell, and the first book is Quarter Share. (Followed by Half, Full, Double, Captain’s, and ending with Owner’s.)

  20. John Ringo doesn’t appeal to me much – but you might find David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers” series or Walter John William’s “Praxis” series comparable.

    Too morally complex for Ringo fans. Try Michael Z Williamson instead. Or Patrick Vanner.

  21. @Beth in MA: You’ve got lots of books (some multi-rec’d), but I figured I’d mention What Should I Read Next. You need to know the name of a specific book you(r brother) read, and I don’t know how useful the site really is (or how well-matched the rec’s are), but there you go. 😉

  22. One other series I’ll add – with the caveat that they’ve attracted my attention, but I haven’t reached them in the TBR stacks yet – is Tanya Huff’s “Valor” books. I have (the first?) four as a trio of Ent corpses; the first two were combined into an omnibus called A Confederacy of Valor.

    I’m a Weber/Honorverse fan and can recommend the Valor books. They have space and military on a bit of a smaller scale than Weber. I’ve not read Ringo though I keep meaning to try.

  23. The world is divided into two sets of people. The first consists of people who have never heard of Felicia Day. The second consists of people who have spent a lot of time on the internet.

    Harrumph. Fallacy of the excluded middle. I’ve been on the internet for decades (met my now-husband on Usenet back in the day) and although I’ve heard the name Felicia Day I probably couldn’t pick her out of a lineup. (My inner child wears a t-shirt that says “NEVER BEEN HIP”.)

    A few days after seeing it, my husband and I find ourselves still discussing the Krampus movie. “Hey, something just dawned on me… Given the ending, does that mean that Bzv’f ragver snzvyl, nf bs friragl lrnef ntb, vf genccrq va nabgure fabjtybor ba nabgure furys?”

    We watched the first episode of The Expanse and are fully hooked. I immediately bought the ebook. So far (haven’t even gotten to the part where Ep. 1 of the TV show ends) there have been a couple of scenes that got compressed or changed slightly due to the demands of the medium (personal opinion: internal narrative doesn’t work in TV, don’t try it). But as yet no “ugh, we’re in Hollywoodland” moments. I’m finding it compelling so far, and I’m enjoying seeing the differences between the book and the show and reflecting on why the changes were made.

  24. Another sort-of-but-not-really military SF that I enjoyed but don’t see mentioned much is the Sten series by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch. My then-teenaged kids liked them, but so did my husband and I. My husband, who never re-reads anything, uses them as fall-back books. Adventure, humor, interesting characters and the Eternal Emporer’s recipes – very readable. (The two also did a fantasy series that just didn’t do it for me, much as I enjoyed the Sten series).

  25. I haven’t really read much Weber or Flint (and have mostly bounced off when I’ve tried), but at a wild guess, Turtledove might appeal, if he liked Flint’s historical stuff. And it can’t hurt to give Bujold’s Vorkosigan books or even Scalzi’s Old Man War books a try. And possibly Walter Jon William’s Praxis books. And, of course, if you want to try something a little older, Poul Anderson’s Flandry books might work.

  26. Lexica: We watched the first episode of The Expanse and are fully hooked. I immediately bought the ebook… I’m finding it compelling so far, and I’m enjoying seeing the differences between the book and the show and reflecting on why the changes were made.

    The first book, Leviathan Wakes, was a Hugo nominee (for good reason). I hadn’t heard of it, but when I received it in the Hugo packet and read it, my reaction was similar to my reaction to Ancillary Justice: “Holy shit, this is the awesome SF that I’ve been looking for!”

    It’s rather different from the Ancillary series, but still epic in its own right — and I would really welcome more of these types of SF book series.

  27. Kendall,

    What Should I Read Next is good for a laugh if nothing else.

    I tried one of my favourite authors — Michael Scott Rohan but go no matches. He never gets any love in these sort of things.

    Then I tried Neal Stephenson(The Diamond Age) and got the expected William Gibsons etc.

    Then I entered Lloyd Alexander – The Book of Three…

    Susan Cooper – yup
    Joan Aiken – uh huh
    Stephen Donaldson – err what?
    Lord Foul’s Bane. Really?

    Just so you know, I am not giving my 10yr old nephew anywhere near Thomas Covenant, no matter what your web page reccomends.

  28. I seem to remember that Robert Hewitt Wolfe, a frequent writer on DS9, wanted to end the show by having the Federation lose and get trashed by the Dominion. The next series would have been set long afterwards, trying to rebuild the now historical Federation.

    But the show runners said no.

    Wolfe went on to make Andromeda, a show about rebuilding a now historical Commonwealth years after it was destroyed in a war.

  29. Thank you all again for the great recommendations! I do hope my brother will try the Ancillary series again, but until then, I want to give him books I hope he will enjoy.

    In other news, things look very good on the job front, and hopefully I will be able to share good news soon!

  30. @Robinreid

    That summed it up better than I could. As someone who never really saw TNG’s oft-vaunted feminism (“we’ll make the two female characters the Doctor and the Therapist”), the amount of rage towards DS9 for having the two female leads as respectively, the ass-kicker and the closest thing DS9 had to a sexually adventurous Kirk always struck me as some true colors being shown.

  31. @ Rev Bob
    Finally, there’s another series that keeps pinging my radar, but I haven’t yet pulled the trigger. The author’s Nathan Lowell, and the first book is Quarter Share. (Followed by Half, Full, Double, Captain’s, and Owner’s – of which Half and Full are currently on sale for 99 cents each on Kindle.)

    I’ve read the series and recommend it…but, it isn’t MilSF. It’s the saga of a young man who rises through the ranks of a galaxy spanning spaceship based trading industry. There’s intrigue, triumph, betrayal, loss and interesting characters and world building. I’d give the series 3.5 stars, which is a positive recommend from me. For comparison, until I quit, I would have rated Weber’s Safehold series at 3.0, now it’s 2.0 stars.

    The books are definitely worth the 99¢.

  32. junego on December 9, 2015 at 11:02 am said:
    @ Rev Bob
    Finally, there’s another series that keeps pinging my radar, but I haven’t yet pulled the trigger. The author’s Nathan Lowell, and the first book is Quarter Share. (Followed by Half, Full, Double, Captain’s, and Owner’s – of which Half and Full are currently on sale for 99 cents each on Kindle.)

    I’ve read the series and recommend it…but, it isn’t MilSF. It’s the saga of a young man who rises through the ranks of a galaxy spanning spaceship based trading industry. There’s intrigue, triumph, betrayal, loss and interesting characters and world building. I’d give the series 3.5 stars, which is a positive recommend from me. For comparison, until I quit, I would have rated Weber’s Safehold series at 3.0, now it’s 2.0 stars.

    The books are definitely worth the 99¢.

    Oh, that sounds quite tempting actually. Yet another book added to my wishlist!

  33. @ Aaron
    re: Your Never Weird…

    Gah! Now I have something else I want to read!

    Thanks for the review, seriously. I was one of those unaware of Felicia Day’s fame until she was targeted during Gamergate. I’ll probably get the book.

  34. Thanks for the review, seriously. I was one of those unaware of Felicia Day’s fame until she was targeted during Gamergate. I’ll probably get the book.

    I hope you like it! I really did, but then again, I’ve liked Felicia’s work since she launched The Guild, so I was kind of primed for it. I’d like to hear your reactions to it to see if it is as interesting to someone who isn’t necessarily as familiar with her work.

  35. Thanks all for adding to the growing TBR. Read one book add several more is not the way to decrease one’s reading list. I’ve added specific books and authors to ereaderiq as well as grabbing what was on sale from Amazon.

  36. @tintinaus: Heh, well, I did say I haven’t tried it in a while. I presume it depends on user contributions of some sort – no idea, though.

    BTW, I’m not sure if you literally mean “you” as in me, in your last paragraph. If so, FYI it’s not my site. Probably you didn’t mean it (“just so you know . . . no matter what your web page recommends”) that way, but I’m paranoid enough to clarify.

  37. Kendall,

    “Your webpage” means at most, “the webpage you recomended”.

    These sort of pages always turn up the occasional WTF thing, and for the record I don’t have a 10yr old nephew. I made that up to better suit the narrative I had in my head.

    I have a 7yr nephew and a 12yr old niece(who is reading Agatha Christie last I heard which is odd because half a year earlier I was told Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising didn’t go down well because it was too scary).

  38. @tintinaus:

    Susan Cooper’s books *are* scary, full of terrifying folkloric creatures and adults oblivious to the terror and danger children see in them; they also have a streak of bleak nihilistic emptiness in them, including not only xvyyvat gur orybirq snvgushy qbt jub jnf cebgrpgvat gurzg, but making dang sure he was framed first so that all the adults are satisfied that it was a good and just thing and that they were right to do it, no matter what ridiculous stories those hysterical children claimed. It is a frightening, cruel, gloating world full of confusing conflict, terrible consequences, and complacently oblivious and unhelpful adults.

    Whereas Agatha Christie’s works show a world full of orderly, comprehensible patterns and understandable motivations, where people who do awful things nearly always betray themselves and are always discovered and suitably punished. They are comforting and reassuring.

  39. I’m reading The Grey King at the moment, and there’s been a passage describing the necessity of cold ruthless action in aid of long-term goals that’s downright chilling. Brilliant book, probably the best of the sequence.

  40. Cooper’s “Dark Is Rising” series is one of my favorites. I believe The Dark Is Rising is one of my favorite books of all time, and I realy love Greenwitch and the Grey King. I’m not as into Over Sea, Under Stone, but on an audiobook listen-as-reread, I found it was more interesting than I remembered, though it feels more like a kids’ book than the rest, to me. Silver on the Tree is good but a bit odd. But the ending is great. 🙂

    /god-stalk (is there a limit to these? will the blogging software explode at some point?)

  41. I guess if I don’t check the box, I’ll never find out if there’s a limit to how many times I can do that. (sigh) (checking the box)

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