Bonesteel is terrific. Before starting this, I reread its predecessor - straight through till almost 4AM. Which is pretty impressive for a reread of aBonesteel is terrific. Before starting this, I reread its predecessor - straight through till almost 4AM. Which is pretty impressive for a reread of a murder mystery.
Remnants of Trust is *better.* The author is more deft and consistent in tone: the only drawback to The Cold Between was its shifts in genre/tone, from romance to murder mystery to space opera. Here we have a complex political thriller that's consistent from end to end. Bonesteel builds out the Central Corps universe and the intrigue established in the first book. We get to see more of the enigmatic PSY Fleet, through another terrific character, the young, pregnant captain, Guanyin.
One of the best things about the book is that one of its main, and viewpoint, characters, is a self-acknowledged thorough-going bastard. Elena's first captain, Celik, is a horrible person. And yet, Bonesteel brings him to life as a real and complex person, thoroughly motivated, self-aware - and yet our empathy doesn't become sympathy: Bonesteel never lets him off the hook. Celik's one of the most interesting characters I've read in ages.
Elena's representative of a maturity in military SF: she's so much more real and nuanced than the mil-SF heroines of the past couple decades. It's probably no coincidence that she reminds me more of Cordelia Vorkosigan, another series character written by a woman, than, say, Honor Harrington. She's *people* - kind of messed up, learning, choosing a path other than a heroic career, trying to do the right thing. I can't wait to see what's ahead for her....more
This is, as the blurb says, "neither a textbook nor a treatise." It's essentially an indictment of Bush Administration policy in the "War on Terror."This is, as the blurb says, "neither a textbook nor a treatise." It's essentially an indictment of Bush Administration policy in the "War on Terror." It's well done for what it is, and provides some solid background to its main argument. Nonetheless, it's a polemic.
If you're looking for something actually on International Humanitarian Law/Law of Armed Conflict, spend the $100 or so and read Gary Solis. ...more
Disappointingly pedestrian, trite, and flat. Ahsoka's a favorite character, and I'd been looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, there's almost nDisappointingly pedestrian, trite, and flat. Ahsoka's a favorite character, and I'd been looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, there's almost nothing of interest here. It's saved from a 2 star rating as the quality of writing (as opposed to plot and characterization) is fine, and the final scene has some real soul to it that was lacking from the the book overall.
Spoiler-free: Ahsoka's on the run after Order 66. She tries not to get close to people, but she does. The Empire shows up where she's hiding out because macguffin. She tries to bail on them to not drag them in any deeper, but returns to save the day.
The climactic fight is a particular failure: it needed a "Chekhov's Gun" setup but was didn't get one, so it seems Ahsoka pulls a key ability out of nowhere. The boss villain is no challenge at all, and the fight's over in one or two beats.
The novel's only redeeming feature is a couple scenes with Bail Organa, particularly the final one where Fulcrum comes to be, as Bail builds out the network that's about to become the Rebel Alliance. That's the only place where Ahsoka feels like the well-defined, strong-willed character from the animated series, and where the author reaches deeper than the most shallow cliches. ...more
An excellent general-audience book on how digital technologies are enabling ordinary volunteers to save lives in disasters around the world. The authoAn excellent general-audience book on how digital technologies are enabling ordinary volunteers to save lives in disasters around the world. The author is one of the founders of the movement, having created a crisis-management platform in his dorm room in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Meier gives an overview of the problems of coordination and information processing facing crisis response efforts, then details the evolution of computing and communications tools across a series of case studies of environmental and political crises.
The author is steadier and less gee-whiz than, for example, Jane McGonigal in Reality Is Broken. He has a practitioner's sense of the limitations of the possible, and a designer's understanding of the systems necessary to contribute in a useful and timely way in a crisis. For all that, he manages to be at least as inspiring: the potential for ordinary people to help in a meaningful way is greater than ever, thanks in no small part to the author's own efforts.
Digital Humanitarians is an inspirational, informative, readable short book. Its only shortcoming, which is somewhat shocking, is that it doesn't provide a list of generally available resources and means to contribute: readers will have to pick them out of the text and do some googling. A short "How You Can Help" section would have been a great improvement. ...more
Leaving Mundania is a nice little participant-observer account of live-action roleplay as game and community. Stark immersed herself for three years iLeaving Mundania is a nice little participant-observer account of live-action roleplay as game and community. Stark immersed herself for three years in larp, from participating in a decades-long-running campaign to pick-up larp at conventions, to running her own game for non-larping friends. It's journalistic - with a bit of pretension to artsiness - rather than academic-ethnographic: sort of NPR-lite in tone and intended audience.
For a very short book, it's comprehensive, covering military and emergency-response training, and with two fascinating chapters on the rich Nordic Larp scene as well as presenting a range of genres and styles in American larp.
At first, Stark's writing was a bit annoying: she has a tendency to misuse big words. The later chapters are stronger, in part from Stark leveling up as a larper, and setting aside her own insecurity to write more authoritatively.
Stark addresses issues of racism and sexism in American larp: her half-chapter on a Black athlete and a White cop who are both closeted larpers was some of the book's strongest writing. By comparison, an anecdote about a woman whose in-game trial for seduction became mired in OOG slut-shaming felt like it pulled its punches.
There's a bit of Henry Jenkins' early work to Leaving Mundania: Stark is making a persuasive case for larp as not weird or dangerous, and in doing so is less critical and more fluffy than might be hoped. Still, as a result, the book is a good one to give to friends/family to explain a hobby, or to the resolutely mundane to explain geek culture more generally. ...more
I first read Dreadnought! thirty years ago. It was the first Star Trek novel I'd picked up since reading the Alan Dean Foster anthologies as a littleI first read Dreadnought! thirty years ago. It was the first Star Trek novel I'd picked up since reading the Alan Dean Foster anthologies as a little kid. This was several years before TNG, and there really wasn't much Star Trek content around. I *adored* this book, and when I heard of "The Next Generation," I hoped that it'd be based on this novel.
Thirty years on.... I still kind of adore Piper, the newly graduated lieutenant assigned to the Enterprise. And, the plot of Dreadnought! was taken wholesale for Into Darkness - and done a lot worse. That said, the book's flaws are glaring after a generation of a lot better tie-in content. It reads like fic that could've used a better beta reader.
Piper's accused of being a Mary Sue, but I think that's a tremendous abuse of the term. I found her utterly believable as a very bright, very green kid thrust in way over her head in her first day out of the Academy. She's good with tech, but embarrassed that she learned her hacking from YA novels (!); consistently two steps behind Kirk and the bridge crew, again, to her painful embarrassment; and she's really not very good at reading the people she gets close to.
She saves the day.... to the extent that Kirk points her and shoots her at the bad guys. I love their relationship - just a few moments of her desperately wishing she was good enough to serve under his command, and him seeing her potential. I also really appreciated her awkward, messed up attempts to be a good friend to the Vulcan cadet she *completely* knows better than to have a hapless crush on. YMMV.
There are two egregious flaws: one, a lapse into a Randroid rant against exactly the sort of socialism the Federation is founded on, and a weird temporal disconnect: Piper breaks up with her boyfriend on graduation, when they're assigned to different ships. She isn't on the Enterprise long enough to change out of civvies, but somehow the boyfriend's been on his ship long enough to be deeply involved in a conspiracy. It's jolting.
But in all, it's a fun romp, better than the movie that shamelessly ripped it off, and I wish there had been a lot more of Piper. ...more