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« March, 2023 »
Lost in Shangri-La

An interesting story of a plane crash in New Guinea, the interactions between the crashees and the indigenous people, and their eventual rescue. While the author tries to mitigate some of the historical documents' racist and sexist language, there’s only so much he can do. A few characters who are well-documented historically get more attention than the Filipino doctors who did some serious hard work. Enjoyable but also flawed.

Antimatter Blues

Sequels to great scifi books can often be terrible. This one was not, it was really good. We see our “expendable” character Mickey from the last novel actually getting to sort some things out while no longer (or is he?) being expendable. There’s reference to the last book without a lot of reliance on it. A little less colony desperation. Tales of friendship. Quick-paced and just a little funny, I enjoyed this.

Critical Mass

This was a sequel to a book I liked decently but this one had a lot less charm and a lot more “This is how NFTs and blockchain are going to save civilization as we know it” (I paraphrase) type of discourse. There was also a lot of that specific “These people are tightly disciplined, there can be no mistakes!” rhetoric coupled with a hothead character who is ungovernable. Well written but rambley and ultimately not for me.

The Dispatcher

Scalzi is also a legend but one of the things I like about him is that his books are predictably up my street and enjoyable. This was a book with a simple premise: murdered people (unlike people who die in other ways) somehow disappear and wake up alive and naked in their beds. This creates an entire industry for murderers in situations where someone might die in another way. Those people being murdered means that they don’t die. Some neat wrinkles. Short, and more fun than a book about murder should be.

Growing Up Weightless

Ford is a legend in scifi circles apparently, but this book about a teenager growing up on the moon dreaming of the stars was just confusing to me. I guess if you sort of know what his thing is, you’d be expecting more of a book like this. The characters were strong and the lunar descriptions excellent but the plot not only (mostly) went nowhere, there were a few long divergences into virtual D&D-type gaming that seemed pointless and I was unclear what their purpose was. I read most of the book thinking “Am I missing something?”

Cold Water

I liked but did not love this book with a few interwoven story lines about a Europe (and world) falling apart and the people trying to get things done, track down the missing guy, and keep their heads above water. Getting crossed and double-crossed. Three female leads who felt somewhat interchangeable and were not well-described. Good plot that wrapped up in a way that was confusing (to me) with somewhat lightweight characters.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

This is a book about a young man and his girlfriend who go to live in Kiribati when she gets a job as a foreign aid worker. I picked it up because my former landlady used to live there and I was curious. Other than the title (racist, misleading and intended to be titillating?) this book had some interesting anecdotes but was ultimately, also racist. The author later “somehow” got a job at the World Bank and if you know that, you know a lot about this book.

Babel: An Arcane History

If you’ve ever had “burn it all to the ground” feelings and you’d like a book that also shared your deep hatred for empire and colonialism, but you also like novels, pick this up. A singular book. There’s magic in it, but not a lot, and it definitely doesn’t turn into one of those wizard vs. wizard things where it’s impossible to tell who has the stronger defenses. Long and deep with complex friendships and rivalries.