MAKER SPACE is Spangler's 3rd book about cyborgs and more. It is more serious than the previous Rachel Peng novel, DIGITAL DIVIDE (and naturally moreMAKER SPACE is Spangler's 3rd book about cyborgs and more. It is more serious than the previous Rachel Peng novel, DIGITAL DIVIDE (and naturally more serious than the Josh Glassman novel, THE RUSSIANS CAME KNOCKING, but then, that's Josh for you). It still has humor, wit, and humanity laced throughout the story, but this is a much more serious tale.
How serious? Seven bombs destroy fourteen blocks of Washington D.C. tourist retail space. Dozens dead, buildings destroyed, the threat of rioting in the streets...all because no one can figure out who did this and why, leaving nothing but wild speculation and outrage to boil over on the city streets. Rachel, her cop partner Santino, her fellow agent Phil, and more are caught up in the chaos, uncertainty, and need to succeed in figuring out what happened. This time, the stability of an entire city--the nation's capital--is at stake, not just lives.
I can't say more without giving away spoilers, but I can say this is a book (for the moment, an ebook only) that will suck you in and have you huddled over your e-reader, reading until the very last page.
...Also, the door into the maker space loft sounds like an awesome piece of architecture....more
I started laughing the moment Rachel Peng (yes, of DIGITAL DIVIDE fame) walked out of Joss Glassman's penthouse home. I laughed loud, I laughed hard,I started laughing the moment Rachel Peng (yes, of DIGITAL DIVIDE fame) walked out of Joss Glassman's penthouse home. I laughed loud, I laughed hard, and I startled my cat. Alas, there were no squirrels around to startle as well...but why I've mentioned the squirrels, well, you'll just have to read it.
This is not a work-safe novel; there are erotic adult-eyes-only descriptions and depictions at several points in the story, as well as moments of violence and their own pertinent descriptions. But it is also surprisingly funny, particularly at the moment Special Agent Peng walked out of her fellow Agent's home. Just...nonchalantly walked out, after greeting her co-workers who were on their way in.
You have to read this book--you HAVE to read it--to get why such a simple, everyday act was so belly-achingly funny.
Once again, the story is set in Spangler's webcomic world of A Girl And Her Fed, but this time it's set earlier than her first novel, DIGITAL DIVIDE, and it follows Josh instead of Rachel. Told in first person, it has a different perspective and a different feel, like the difference between bouncing all over rough terrain in a Range Rover and pulling up to the curbside of a fancy red-carpet restaurant in a Maserati. Both get the job done and done well in the setting they were built to handle...except this Maserati has squirrels in it. And that is all I dare say.
Knowing Spangler's ability to tell a tale, and to make me laugh and cheer and read with breathless anticipation, I bought this the day it came out. Ten years from now, you'll still be telling your friends, "Go buy this, it's worth every penny!" Or at least I will.
I haven't finished reading the Codas at the end of the book (read Coda I, enjoyed it well enough), but that's okay, because I mostly just want to reviI haven't finished reading the Codas at the end of the book (read Coda I, enjoyed it well enough), but that's okay, because I mostly just want to review the meat of the book, the actual story of Redshirts.
Loved it. Crazy, insane, messed-up situation for the characters to be in...and Scalzi made it believable for me, even from a philosophical/existential/multi-dimensional-physics point of view. Normally when writing a way-out-there story, an author has to juggle the audience's willingness to suspend their disbelief. In this case, Scalzi took that disbelief and inserted it into the story, so that the reader identifies very strongly with what the characters are going through, and the difficulty involved in accepting the situation at hand. But he makes it work.
...I know a lot of people have sworn this book is laugh-out-loud funny. I found many parts to be quite amusing (I've been watching Star Trek and other similar shows since I was a very small child, so the trope-bashing was fun to read)...but I didn't actually laugh out loud at any point. I grinned at several points, yes, but not an actual lol. Still, that's just my reaction. Some books make me giggle, some make me shriek with laughter, and some just make me smile.
For this story, I can honestly say it's worth every penny spent, even though I haven't finished reading the Codas at the back.
(...If you don't know what a Coda is, it's a musical term for a section of music that has been expanded, usually at the end of a piece of music, to bring it to a close with a bit of a flourish. Aka, it provides a "special flourish" to the end of a section or to help conclude an overall performance; same as the previous few repetitions, but with extra fiddly-bits to flourish and thus bring it to a close.)...more
As someone who makes her living off writing, I don't have a lot of time for leisure reading, like maybe a new book squeezed in every 2-3 months. So whAs someone who makes her living off writing, I don't have a lot of time for leisure reading, like maybe a new book squeezed in every 2-3 months. So when I do make the time for a fresh story, I'm hoping it will be good. I'm praying it'll be worth my time.
DIGITAL DIVIDE is that good.
I was already familiar with Spangler (aka Otter) and her work through her webcomic, A Girl And Her Fed. While the artwork started out literally sketchy (she has been slowly updating the original archive of pages with her much-improved new style), her overall story, plotting, characterization, setting and sense of humor have all been engagingly good in the webcomic. So when she released DIGITAL DIVIDE (blame my editor on making me type book titles in all-caps), I took a chance on it and paid the $5.00 for a .pdf version that would work on my Nook.
Worth every penny...except for the last two, which I'll toss in here:
Because she has a dayjob and a webcomic to update on a regular basis, it's going to take Spangler a while to come up with the next Rachel Peng novel...and the wait is going to suck. But that's my two cents' worth.
In her ebook, Spangler dives the reader straight into her take on an alternate universe in which various bright, young members of various branches of the government were given cyborg implants that would give them access to anything electronic that could communicate. But in the world of AGAHF (discussed enough in the book to understand what's going on, but more fully fleshed in the webcomic which has the greater backstory), the Agents were tricked. It was given to them by those who wanted the technology, but not the moral imperatives and values of the biological components needed to run the new machinery. After five years of attempted brainwashing and personality breakdowns, the Agents finally cast off the shackles of their electronic oppressors and went public.
This is where DIGITAL DIVIDE picks up, with the story of Rachel Peng, former Army specialist on a fast-track to West Point, and now after five-plus years of hell, OACET Agent liaison to the Washington, D.C. P.D. She's finally free in her own head, with great power...but as Uncle Ben reminded us, it comes with great responsibility. Public opinion is divided on what she and her fellow Agents can do, and even the police at First Metro aren't sure if they can trust someone like her. Worse, if she crosses the law even once, the legal sharks will devour not only her, but all her fellow Agents...those that survived the last five years, that is.
Of course, it wouldn't be a good book without an antagonist to poke and prod at our protagonist, and the set-up is fantastic: Muggings, beatings, and a murder all point to the cyborg Agents, because while the eye-witnesses report one side of the story, all the security cameras and electronic evidence point to a completely different side, one that paints cyborg tampering as the only possible means.
Fortunately for the good guys, and unfortunately for the bad guys, the Agents have a few tricks up their digital sleeves. They might not always know what is going on--Rachel and her fellow Agents are still very human at the end of the day--but they are determined to take this technology they cannot remove from their heads and do good with it.
Since the murder, beatings, and electronic surveillance tamperings are only the tip of the iceberg that Rachel, the police, and her fellow Agents have to face, they have a steep hill ahead of them. Spangler's witty, colorful writing makes it worth the climb.
At least, I found it worth the climb. Not only on a first reading, but on a re-read, too....more
This was a fun little read recommended to me by my roommate while I was down with a cold; she knew I wanted a light read that still had some depth andThis was a fun little read recommended to me by my roommate while I was down with a cold; she knew I wanted a light read that still had some depth and flavor to it. This murder mystery was light on the graphic descriptions, had a decent amount of suspense without making me tense up too much, and a good twist near the end. I think others will enjoy it....more
This book explained quite a lot to me as to why our U.S. soldiers have had so many difficulties in winning wars since WWII. (To be honest, unless we'vThis book explained quite a lot to me as to why our U.S. soldiers have had so many difficulties in winning wars since WWII. (To be honest, unless we've thrown overwhelming forces in high ratios at a foe in order to win, we haven't.) I highly recommend it for anyone currently serving in the military, or for anyone who wishes to write military fiction.
The only drawback I found was the writing style, which at several points was a bit circular, as well as being very terminology-thick. The Glossary was very modest, confining itself at most to a handful of acronyms, and the author assumed his readers would automatically know what he was talking about on subjects such as bangalores, claymores, and burpguns, among many others.
Beyond that, it was a very informative read with many examples, and some good, solid suggestions on how to practice a more effective set of small unit tactics than are currently used by the U.S....more