More fiction this time, which I mostly read in April, but I was too lazy to write this up until now.
Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi is mainly a retelling of the events of The Last Colony, but from Zoe’s perspective. It felt like Scalzi wanted to give a different first-person perspective of the events, as well as filling in the gaps when the protagonist of TLC was not present to witness things. I liked it, but not as much as the trilogy.
Cat of the Century by Rita Mae Brown is the latest in the Sneaky Pie series, and possibly the most disappointing. When she’s not using the characters to be the mouthpiece of her political views, she’s writing vapid and uninteresting narrative. I keep hoping she’ll stop writing this series so I stop feeling compelled to read it, but a note at the end of the book indicates there’s at least one more on the way. I was smart this time and borrowed the book from the library rather than adding it to my hardcover collection as I have done with the previous books in the series.
Heaven – Season Five: War by Mur Lafferty is a podiobook that is responsible for making my gym visits over the past six months much more tolerable, although even that wasn’t enough to keep me going regularly through the holidays. However, I managed to kick start my workout routine again, and with that, finish listening to the book. This is the finale of Lafferty’s metaphysical spec fic series, and while I am sad that it has ended, it was satisfying enough.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell was my workplace’s book group selection for the spring. I don’t think anyone should take this book too seriously, as he tends to find facts to fit his theories and ignores or discounts facts that go against them, but he does make some thought-provoking points about the outside forces that determine if someone is “successful” by his definition of success. I would be interested in seeing some authoritative social science research on the factors he identifies.
I always do better at the beginning of the year than later on, so I’m not going to crow too much about being on track for reading 50 this year, particularly since two are graphic novels that took less than 20 minutes to read. Nevertheless, here’s the round-up:
The first and last books I read this month are The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony by John Scalzi. Continuing on in the Old Man’s War universe, the first is from the perspective (mostly) of Jane Sagan, although not in the first person like OMW. The second is once again from first person perspective of John Perry. While TLC explains more of the politics of the OMW universe, I found TGB to be more interesting reading due to the issues of sentience and self-hood that Scalzi explores in the story. The fourth book, Zoe’s Tale, is on my reading list for this month.
Star Trek: Art of the Film is one that I read and reviewed for Blogcritics. It’s “is part coffee table book and part behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creation of the film.” Most of what I have to say about it, I said in the review, so check that out if you’re interested.
I started reading the new Wonder Woman comic series last year, and I found that I’m missing the context of an incredible amount of backstory, so I picked up copies of the first two trade paperbacks, Who Is Wonder Woman? and Love and Murder. It’s still a bit confusing, since even though they are the start of a new series, there is still an underlying assumption that the reader is familiar with the history of Wonder Woman. Me, I just vaguely remember the TV show. Anyway, I think I’ll continue getting the trade paperbacks instead of the single issues. It’s more cost-effective, and I need the longer story arcs to keep track of what’s happening.
Once again I attempted to read 50 books in a year, and once again I failed. Well, actually, I pretty much gave up on it early on, so it’s no surprise to me that I didn’t get there. Anyway, here are the books I read last year (I read a lot more than just books, but these are all that I’m counting):
- Don’t Stop Believin’: How Karaoke Conquered the World and Changed My Life by Brian Raftery
- Vulcan’s Forge by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
- Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
- Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book One: Exodus by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
- Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book Two: Exiles by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
- Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy Book Three: Epiphany by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz
- Slurp: Drinks and Light Fare, All Day, All Night by Jim Hensley, Nina Dreyer Hensley, and Paul Lowe
- Of Mule and Man by Mike Farrell
- The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
- I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling
- Libyrinth by Pearl North
- Kilimanjaro: A Photographic Journey to the Roof of Africa by Michel Moushabeck & Hiltrud Schulz
- Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino
- Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
- Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
My pleasure reading was mostly Spock, and all of the non-fiction was either for review or for a book group discussion. This weekend I went through my bookshelves and pulled about 80 books that I’m either selling or trading away because I haven’t read them yet and will probably get them from the library if/when I ever get around to reading them. The nice thing is that in the process of doing this, I was reminded of books I’ve wanted to read for a long time but have forgotten I have them sitting on my shelves already.
One book down already for 2010, and hopefully more to follow it. In fact, I think I’ll go start on The Ghost Brigade right now.
One of the panels I attended last weekend at RavenCon was about webcomics. It was moderated by Bryan Prindiville and included Ahlen Moin, Rob Balder, and Eric Kimball. I took some notes:
Two nights ago I really wanted to read a book before bed, but it was late, and I knew that I would end up reading until all hours of the morning and regret it the next day. So, I scoured the mass market Mt. TBR and found a thin book, which also happened to be a collection of short stories. Yay!
Last night I finished reading Isaac Asimov’s Nine Tomorrows, and as can be expected, it was an engaging read, with each short story providing a different insight into how (in some cases, minor and insignificant) actions and events of now might evolve into the future. Some of the characters in the stories were charged with solving mysteries, but mostly it was left to the reader to figure out what was going on and how humanity got to that point.
The book is a product of its time. The copyright is 1959, and the stories themselves were originally published in magazines in that decade. Understandably, the Cold War and nuclear research play roles in several of the stories. Asimov also explores his (apparent) favorite social science theme of societies where the actions of individuals or the whole can be predicted through mathematical theory.
If you are looking for some bite-sized Asimov, I recommend picking up a copy of this book, if you can find one.
RavenCon — it’s not just for ravens anymore.
photo by me
I attended RavenCon for the first time this year. It’s a relatively new con, with this being the third year of its existence. One of the reasons why I attended was because it was held here in Richmond, and because several podcasters I listen to but have never met were planning to be in attendance. Over the course of the weekend, I had a chance to chat with all but one, who ended up being unable to attend.
By now, I’ve figured out how these small-ish regional cons tend to run, so aside from doing the fangirl thing, I was prepared for mediocre panels and lots of dead spaces where I attempted to make friends with people who are quite happy to remain in their little cliques, thankyouverymuch. I quickly discovered that this con is different.
Maybe it’s because it’s so new, or maybe I just had better luck, but in the end, I have to conclude that this was the best con I have attended so far. 95% of the panels I attended were interesting and informative. While I did run into a few cliques, I managed to quickly locate the room party with the types of folks who like to talk to new people, and I was able to make a few new friends by the end of the weekend.
All in all, I’m glad I went. And, I plan to go again next year.
I’ve been slowly working my way through a more academic book than my usual selection, and it’s taking me a lot longer to finish it. In the mean time, I agreed to send a book to a fellow sf-books.com member for her birthday, but I wanted to read it first. The slim young adult paperback clocks in at 118 pages and I finished it in less than an hour (over lunch today, actually). It’s called Star Ka’at and is written by Andre Norton and Dorothy Madlee.
The story involves two orphan kids and a pair of stray cats they find. The cats are not exactly your typical domestic tabbies, and there are hints of darker elements that a more adult-oriented book might cover. The mini-arc of the book ends satisfactorily, but there are enough questions remaining to make me seek out other titles in the series.
Three by Michael Jan Friedman
Like The Valiant, Three takes an element from TOS and imagines what might have happened to it in the years between Kirk and young Picard. In this case, the element is the mirror universe that Kirk visited via a transporter malfunction. Alternate histories and crossovers seem to be an irresistible element of the Star Trek canon, so I am not surprised to see it show up in Friedman’s Stargazer series.
The story was okay, but the plot and action did not move quite as dramatically as it has in previous books. Aside from providing more character development with the Asmunds and Ensign Nikolas, the book adds nothing to the story of the USS Stargazer and her crew.
So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica (Smart Pop series) edited by Richard Hatch
I’m not sure if this really counts, since I read only a handful of the essays, but the book is overdue and I know I won’t get to the rest anytime soon.
I’ve written here about my ambivalent feelings regarding Battlestar Galactica. On the one hand, I’m fascinated with it, but on the other, it freaks me out. Aside from the miniseries and episode one of the first season, I’ve caught several shows here and there, mainly after hearing fans raving about them. One of these days I’m going to sit down with the DVDs and catch up, but for now, most of my knowledge of the show is second-hand.
This isn’t a bad thing. What drew me to the show was the ideas presented, and not so much the action or visual effects. Hearing or reading about what happens and why has been good enough so far. I wanted to read some of the essays in this book because they were written by a few of the fans who were responsible for my interest in the show in the first place. The deep geeking is well-written, and I highly recommend this book for BSG fans.
I meant to do this last night, but I forgot. So, here are five non-librarian blogs that I regularly read:
- WWDN: In Exile – Wil Wheaton’s not-so-temporary blog that he created when the one at wilwheaton.net crashed and burned in September 2005. I think that the exile has become a more permanent blog home. Regardless, his writing is often witty, poignant, and full of geek empowerment.
- Feminist SF Blog – Yes, I am a science fiction geek and a feminist. As if you didn’t know that already. Make sure you read the Women in Battlestar Galactica essay.
- A Year in Pictures of Working – I went to high school with Arnie and we both were involved with several theater productions. I ran across his old blog, A Year In Pictures Following The Break-Up, when I was doing a random Google search of various classmates. One thing that I remember most about Arnie is his witty and slightly silly sense of humor, and it seems he hasn’t lost any of it in the past twelve years.
- Jonathan Coulton – “Code Monkey like Fritos / Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew / Code Monkey very simple man / With big warm fuzzy secret heart / Code Monkey like you”
- Blogcritics Magazine – I would be remiss if I did not include this on my list. I don’t read everything that is published (approx. 50 articles every day!), but I do browse the reviews and news items. I’m also one of the writers and involved in some of the behind the scenes work. About 95% of the lengthy reviews you see published here are from materials I have received as a BC writer, and the reviews are all cross-published on the BC site. Their version is after an editor has looked it over, but my version is pre-externally edited. Usually, they’re the same copy.
Are you a librarian blogger? Tag. You’re it.