I was put off by the standard fantasy medieval feudal society at first. It's been done to death. But things picked up a bit.
This isn't your standardI was put off by the standard fantasy medieval feudal society at first. It's been done to death. But things picked up a bit.
This isn't your standard Chosen One gathering an army and marching to victory. This is a caper story, like The Italian Job. Kelsier is a lifetime criminal who has recently escaped from the world's worst prison, where his wife died. He gathers a crew with the plan of robbing the Lord Ruler, an immortal God King, and turning the kingdom over to a slave uprising. The job is financed by the slave rebellion and the payout is the Lord Ruler's stash of rare metal, worth more than gold.
Our main character is Vin, a young thief, with special skills. Not unique skills, just special skills. Many people with Aristocratic blood have the ability to use metals to do what we would call magic, they call it Allomancy. In fact this ability is the main difference between the aristocrats and the Skaa slaves. Kelsier and Vin are both half-breeds, they had aristocratic fathers. And they are both Mistborn, which means they are a special case of Allomancers who can use all of the magic metals, not just one of them. Mistborn are rare but not too rare. Being Mistborn doesn't make you the Chosen One, it's just useful.
The idea of overthrowing the God King as a caper reminds me of the Terry Pratchett novel "Interesting Times" where the Silver Horde conquers the Agatean Empire by sneaking in and taking over the court.
I have some problems with the depiction of religion in this book. I suspect the author of being a an atheist and having an atheist's usual wrong ideas about how religion works. I read in a wiki that the Skaa slaves are forbidden from practicing religion. How they are supposed to worship the God King without "practicing religion" I don't know. Also the ministry seems to be based on enforcing religious doctrine. Under that system not practicing religion would be the same as not obeying the law.
Well, I just met the character of Sazed, who seems to a bit of a philosopher. So I expect to get more annoyed. ----------------------------- Well, it turns out that the author is not an atheist, he is a Mormon. Mormons have interesting ideas about religion. In general I'm more comfortable talking to people of any faith other than atheists. At least Mormons understand that religion has social value. Religion in the story was not just a tool to manipulate the foolish, that I thought the author might make it, when I thought he was an atheist. The Mormon influence on the story explains both the definition of God as the creator of the universe, and the strong emphasis on charismatic men in creating religions.
Knowing that the author is a Mormon changed how I experienced the story. Kelsier's paternal attitude toward Vin makes more sense now. You don't often find important male characters being paternal to teenaged girls in fantasy, unless the characters are very old. I can see Kelsier's behavior being consistent with Mormon emphasis on family values, and moral behavior. As opposed to the usual adolescent fantasy of male virility.
It turns out that Vin is special after all. Although I will have to read the other two books to find out why.
In general I'm pleased with the story and have ordered the remaining two books so I can see what happens. ...more
I had heard lost of good things about this book. I'm not much of a zombie fan. I don't watch "The Walking Dead" and I haven't read much zombie fictionI had heard lost of good things about this book. I'm not much of a zombie fan. I don't watch "The Walking Dead" and I haven't read much zombie fiction. But I enjoyed this book. It's a political thriller in a post Zombie Apocalypse world.
It takes place 20 years after the zombie uprising, there are still zombies around but people have gotten used to them and life goes on. The main character is a 24 year old blogger names Georgia. She's a Newsie, that means she writes factual stories. Her bother Shaun is an Irwin, he blogs real life action adventure, which means he spends most of his time poking zombies with a stick. And they have a friend, a blond girl named Buffy, who writes fiction and poetry. They are picked to be imbedded with a Republican Senator and Presidential hopeful on his campaign for the nomination.
There is political intrigue, hard hitting journalism, and zombies.
I liked the story. I was pulled in and when I got to the end I wanted to keep reading. It's a good thing there are two more books. This is definitely a trilogy, the story didn't end with the first book. We still don't know who is behind the intrigue.
But it was not without it's problems. Several times I had problems with what was presented, but it just went by so fast I didn't have time to object. And we really don't see much of how society functions in a post Zombie world. Life on the campaign trail is pretty limited. It's all traveling in armored vehicles and staying in hotels with the candidate.
It has strong female characters, a fast paced story, and not to much gore. I can recommend it for light reading even if you aren't that into zombies. ...more
Bryony is a gardener. Who better to enlist when you are having trouble with wild roses?
T. Kingfisher is seriouslyA retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Bryony is a gardener. Who better to enlist when you are having trouble with wild roses?
T. Kingfisher is seriously obsessed with gardening. Maybe it's just that I follow her blog and listen to her podcast, but Bryony sounds just like the author, if the author was kidnapped by a Beast in a magic house. Well, they do say you should write what you know.
I love how the relationship between Bryony and the Beast develops. And I approve of how the story resolves. Although I do feel it got unnecessarily grim toward the end. What happened to the servants seemed unnecessary and overly grim for what had been a fairly light-hearted story until then....more
This is the third book of a series. Read the first two books before reading this one.
The ending was very strong. It was a thorough and uplifting concThis is the third book of a series. Read the first two books before reading this one.
The ending was very strong. It was a thorough and uplifting conclusion. So good in fact that it motivated the five star rating despite my less favorable feelings about the book in earlier chapters. There were terrible losses but the good guys won in the end.
I think this book was longer than the previous two. It took me longer to read and I really felt that it dragged in the middle. While it was dragging I had time to think about things.
Nexus gets into the brains of developing fetuses and allows them to communicate with outside adults. Personally I doubt that developing fetuses have much cognitive ability. Which got me thinking about what other animals could run Nexus. Pretty much any animal with a brain should be able to run it. Can Nexus tell if it is in a human or not? I'm sure that if such a thing existed people would give it to their cats and dogs and try to talk to them. Cats and dogs probably have more cognitive ability than a human fetus. What if PETA gave Nexus to cows and pigs so slaughter-house workers could feel their deaths? This issue never comes up in the book. Probably because it has nothing to do with the plot.
And another thing about Nexus getting into fetal brains. Those brains haven't finished growing. Human bodies grow by stem cells getting next to other cells and picking up their part in the pattern. If the fetal brain is full of nanites, that might prevent new brain cells from forming and cause massive brain damage. We are talking about filling a human brain with metal dust while it is still growing. This would actually be a problem for children as well, the Nexus in their brains preventing the development of normal brain tissues. These books just assume that Nexus has no harmful side effects on developing brains. Maybe it wouldn't. But maybe it would.
I was a bit annoyed that Sam turned into a school marm. I would complain that it was sexist to have a kick-ass female character decide to go from military work to taking care of children, but many of the male characters are also motivated by caring for children. Rangan develops a strong bond with the autistic boys that is a major turning point for his character. And there are plenty of strong female characters in the series.
It is a plot point that there are people actively instigating violent revolution for their own reasons. But I was still disappointed. It only takes 3.5% of the population to be actively involved in a civil resistance action for it to be effective, even against an armed government that is willing to use violence.
http://www.ericachenoweth.com/researc... Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan. "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict" (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, August 2011).
"Though it defies consensus, between 1900 and 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts. Attracting impressive support from citizens that helps separate regimes from their main sources of power, these campaigns have produced remarkable results, even in the contexts of Iran, the Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, and Burma."
"Researchers used to say that no government could survive if just 5 percent of the population rose up against it," Chenoweth says. "Our data shows the number may be lower than that. No single campaign in that period failed after they'd achieved the active and sustained participation of just 3.5 percent of the population." She adds, "But get this: every single campaign that exceeded that 3.5 percent point was a nonviolent one. The nonviolent campaigns were on average four times larger than the average violent campaigns."
We need to spread the word. If you commit to non-violence you can make social change with only 3.5% participation. Non-violence Works http://www.nonviolenceworks.us/
============================ Read the Nexus series of books. It is thought provoking and worth your time. ...more
I'm really liking this series. It's very well written. It's an action packed thriller. And it does a very good job of exploring some very complex ideaI'm really liking this series. It's very well written. It's an action packed thriller. And it does a very good job of exploring some very complex ideas.
Crux is definitely the second book of a trilogy. It's the middle of the story, you have to read Nexus first and Apex afterward.
Kade and Feng are on the run from bounty hunters. Sam is working in an orphanage for children born with Nexus. Rangan is in ERD custody with a bunch of autistic children who have Nexus. Su-Yong Shu is trapped inside a Chinese supercomputer and slowly going insane while her daughter Ling searches for a way to free her. Holtzmann is suffering the consequences of his bad decisions. And there are some new players on the board: a Nexus super villain named Shiva Prasad, a terrorist organization called the Post-human Liberation Front (PLF), and a government coverup.
Global warming issues play a role in this story, providing a November hurricane in DC and motivation for the super villain.
Su-Yong Shu's problem reminds me of "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" by John Varley and "Sideshow" by Sheri S. Tepper. Stories that also involve the problems of trying to maintain human consciousness in a computer....more
This was a fun book. I could see this turning into a SyFy series (filmed in Canada of course).
We have a kick-ass protagonist with a mysterious past anThis was a fun book. I could see this turning into a SyFy series (filmed in Canada of course).
We have a kick-ass protagonist with a mysterious past and no social skills, a large black PI with a soft heart, a wisecracking computer nerd in a wheelchair, and a perky secretary. They can have a new adventure every week.
Cas Russell is hired by a man to retrieve his daughter. The problem is that there is no evidence he ever had a daughter, and why would his wife's company kidnap their kid. On top of that Checker slept with the niece of a Mafia boss who wants to ruin his life. And Cas has promised Arthur she will try to solve her problems without killing anyone, even if they are trying to kill her.
This book is not as grim as the first one. And the body count is not as high. It really would work as the premise for a weekly Sci-Fi TV series, like Scorpion. Dysfunctional loner with no social skills fixes people's problems while learning how to have friends. I would watch that. ...more
I should have read the description more carefully. This is a supplement to a textbook.
My first surprise was how thin this book is. It's not intendedI should have read the description more carefully. This is a supplement to a textbook.
My first surprise was how thin this book is. It's not intended to stand on its own, it is a collection of source material with introductions and reading questions intended to supplement two text books Ways of Being Religious and Eastern Ways Of Being Religious by the same author.
This is a very thin academic overview of the history of Shinto intended for beginning students of philosophy and comparative religion. The author defines religion in terms of organizational structure and salvation, features that are typical to the Western Christian experience but not typical of other religions, geographically or historically. Because I don't agree with the author's definition of "religion" a lot of the features of Shinto that are problematic for him are not problematic for me. But the source material on Japanese history, beliefs, and practices is sound and I can still use it for my studies.
I was pleasantly surprised that there is a chapter on women in Shinto. The role of women historically in Shinto is discussed, both in how women affect Shinto and how Shinto affects women.
This is a reasonably good source for students interested in the academic study of Shinto religion. It is not intended for the general public, the casual reader, or the spiritual seeker....more
This is the story of Samantha Cataranes, a US government agent who has dedicated her life to stopping the spread of drugs or technologies that could bThis is the story of Samantha Cataranes, a US government agent who has dedicated her life to stopping the spread of drugs or technologies that could be used to enslave people. And Kaden Lane a graduate student in neurotechnology who wants to make the world a better place. For two people with such good intentions they end up surrounded by a lot of violence and death. Kade has found a way to allow humans to communicate directly mind to mind by drinking a small quantity of harmless looking liquid. The nanobots in the liquid set up computer hardware in your brain and Kade and his friends have figured out how to program that computer to do all sorts of cool and fun things. Unfortunately for them this sort technology is illegal (in the reality of the book) and there are people who are willing to kill or worse to control it. There are also many scary ways such technology can be abused (which are also explored).
The book begins in California and ends in Thailand. Thailand is a very interesting place. There are a lot of Buddhist monks involved in the Thailand arc of the story, and a lot of discussion of Buddhists ideas about the mind, technology, and ethics. I liked that.
In the beginning of the book there are lots of hints that something terrible happened to Samantha in her childhood that made her hate any attempts to control other people's minds with drugs or technology. I was very relieved when we did get to hear her story about three quarters of the way through the book. I would have been very annoyed otherwise.
I picked this book up because it was suggested by a member of the Ithaca Generator Sci-fi reading group. And it sounded like a good follow up to "Lock In" by John Scalzi, that we had just read. This book is better than "Lock In". This is a nonstop action thriller, with discussion of the moral implications of changing what it means to be human. Both the technology and implications of these changes are explored to a greater depth than they were in "Lock In".
There is a short essay by the author at the end of the book describing existing attempts to connect human brains directly to computers, such as the cochlear implant, and other even more amazing devices. =================================== I was also reading Zero Sum Game at the same time. "Zero Sum Game" also involves a female protagonist who can kick serious ass, and bad people using mind control. But I think the fight scenes in "Nexus" are better. Samantha is a kick ass fighter because she has biological enhancements and years of training. Kade can throw some cool karate moves with some of his software, but without the biology to back it up he almost always loses. He is a science geek not a fighter. Downloading information from the net (like Neo in the Matrix) can not solve all your problems. I need to finish reading "Zero Sum Game" and see if Cas has any other enhancements than "being really good at math". All her fight scenes are described in terms of vectors and forces. All Newtonian motion involves vectors and forces, but that doesn't mean that an observe can see all the forces involved. There are too many unknowns and too much chaos in the real world to make perfect predictions every time. There is always a margin of error. ...more
I had heard that this was a really awful story. So I read it myself to see. It's not bad. It's what we in the religious studies field call "apologeticI had heard that this was a really awful story. So I read it myself to see. It's not bad. It's what we in the religious studies field call "apologetics". Not in the sense of apologizing but in the sense of defending a position.
This is a story about a Mormon missionary to an alien race successfully defending his congregation members from a crime that is not considered a crime in their culture.
My problem with the story is that it is spiritually uplifting (if you happen to be Mormon) but very intellectually thin. I like my stories to have a bit more meat and heft. The characters have no depth and even though their lives are at stake I never felt particularly moved by their plight.
This is one of the first vampire novels. It's very short and has some interesting lesbian overtones. It is very similar to Bram Stoker'sAn easy read.
This is one of the first vampire novels. It's very short and has some interesting lesbian overtones. It is very similar to Bram Stoker's Dracula in form and content, being a first person account by a woman who survives being hunted by a vampire. I'm not interested enough in 19th century literature to know if the form was common.
A young woman named Carmilla comes to stay at a country house in southern Germany and villagers start dying. Since Carmilla is very sickly and locks herself in her room every night and doesn't come out till afternoon she obviously has nothing to do with the strange deaths. Until it is discovered that Carmilla has some way of leaving her locked room and returning without anyone seeing her come or go.
We never do find out about Carmilla's mysterious "mother".
I finally read this story because there is a web series that is based on it. I recommend the web series, it is very good and openly lesbian. But the only thing it has in common with the novella is that there is a vampire named Carmilla who has a crush on the protagonist. I would say it is "loosely inspired by the novella", not "based on". http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QzRfvkJZ4...more
This is anthology of SF stories with characters from many cultural backgrounds.
"The Last Day" by Ellen Oh. Have you watched "Grave of the Fireflies"?This is anthology of SF stories with characters from many cultural backgrounds.
"The Last Day" by Ellen Oh. Have you watched "Grave of the Fireflies"? This story is like that. I wish I had not read it. It is horribly depressing. It's an alternate history where Japan didn't surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They just kept fighting and we kept bombing them. It's a first person description of what it is like to live through an A-bomb attack.
"Freshee's Frogurt" by Daniel H. Wilson. The police report on one of the first incidents of the robot uprising. A deadly battle between a domestic robot and the two employees in a frozen yogurt shop.
Uncertainty Principle by K. Tempest Bradford. A young girl can remember changes to her timeline and needs to stop the people who keep making things worse. ...more