So back when I reviewed CryoBurn I talked about the importance of knowing when to die, "when to leave the world as a gift, not a burden" to the next gSo back when I reviewed CryoBurn I talked about the importance of knowing when to die, "when to leave the world as a gift, not a burden" to the next generation. Well, Cordelia Naismith/Vorkosigan says "Suck it!" She's not leaving any time soon.
This is the cornucopianist argument to life. There's plenty of life to live and there's room to grow. Cordelia is the "queen" of a (literal) new world, and while she loved her husband dearly, Aral's passing (followed by a suitable mourning) has freed her from the shackling absurdities of Barrayaran life and norms.
When Lois McMaster Bujold started the Barrayar books, the (admittedly scifi-centric) audience tended to identify with Cordelia's Betan roots. Barrayarans may have a sort of primitive-honor appeal (paging Robert E. Howard), we all thought of ourselves as closer to Betan social norms than Barrayaran. Maybe I'm just getting old, but now I find myself in the seat of Admiral Jole in this book - being dragged forward out of my (more Barrayaran) comfort zone into the (Betan) future - and beyond as Cordelia readily admits that portions of her broader marriage would have caused fits even on Barrayar.
And yet, the drama just isn't there any more. Unlike old Piotr rejecting his "mutie" grandson, on the new Sergyar people (and ultimately Miles) are willing to let differences exists and see the happiness they bring (and maybe warn/commiserate about the hard work involved in relationships/family/parenting).
Just as I said Cryoburn was resonating with my experience of watching my GI generation grandparents pass after having lost much of their dignity, I feel like this book is part of spate of 'life can begin again at 70' stories inevitably aimed at my Baby-Boomer parents. I just worry that we don't have Betan longevity technology or a most-unexplored planet to expand into....more
The Confederation series just keeps getting better and is now dubbed the Peacekeeper series.
I don't care abouHow is this series not in movie form yet?
The Confederation series just keeps getting better and is now dubbed the Peacekeeper series.
I don't care about the names, I'm loving the books.
Tanya Huff is amazing at writing many things at once. She has the military voice down pat with her ex-marine characters. She writes cultural/racial confusion beautifully, with a spot-on humor. In this book takes us through a main plot exploring the tension of a society where a soldier class lives a life separated from the more sheltered main-stream culture (sound familiar?). That would be impressively done if it was the end-all, but it's not.
We continue to have exploration-through-example of default gender roles with Torrin worrying about placing her partner Craig in harm's way and Craig being the more emotionally fluent of the pair. But that's not all.
The di'Taykan are space elves but have always been a bit of challenge to traditional human norms of sex and romance. This book moves on with this showing us multiple relationship models that all appear healthy, whether romance and sex are combined or not (and ignoring gender in many cases). But that's not even some of the real deep use of di'Taykan racial norms; beyond that we get a look at the pain and frustration of being touch-deprived and how that pain can be self-inflicted.
Will the books keep getting better? I hope so. But there are really only a few things we can be sure we know. We know the H'san like cheese....more
I grabbed this off the e23 website mainly for a few pages. I've had a zombie-themed GURPS one-shot in my head for a few years and had just not lookedI grabbed this off the e23 website mainly for a few pages. I've had a zombie-themed GURPS one-shot in my head for a few years and had just not looked forward to doing the math on creating zombie stats (yes, I understand that there's a GURPS: Zombies source book, but I don't think I really need most of that material for a one-shot). So here's a cheap book with multiple zombies and other standard-horror-trope baddies. Just the thing for a GM needing an enemy toot-sweet (there's always room for an albino alligator in the sewers).
That said, I got pretty pulled into the whole Monster Hunters set-up. It's role-playing any number of popular TV-shows, from Buffy, to Charmed, to Supernatural, to Sleepy Hollow. I suppose most of your Urban Fantasy novels would fall into this genre too (so long as you aren't going all Anne Rice/White Wolf with it). It was almost (but not quite) enough to get me to buy volumes 1 and 2....more
I'm counting this as re-read since I'm up-to-date on the webcomic edition.
I find the restarting of the volume numbering very interesting and a nice chI'm counting this as re-read since I'm up-to-date on the webcomic edition.
I find the restarting of the volume numbering very interesting and a nice change. While Mechanicsburg was quite a fun place, I felt like the wrangling with the castle and invading armies was becoming interminable.
The addition of the Corbetite Monks is welcome. They had been teased before in world descriptions, but they appeared as a much more formidable force than I expected. The Monks also bring up the issue of the Church. We've seen this before with the Red Cathedral in Mechanicsburg and some turn-coat nuns. I understand that a church (usually the Catholic Church or a reflection of it) figures prominently in the political maneuvering of psuedo-medieval fantasy settings. However, I have trouble seeing Christianity appearing in this world. So far, the ranks and terms of the Church seem to be lifted from our Catholic Church, we have no explanation of its actual beliefs. I'm not sure that we ever will, which is probably for the best....more
OK, I'm a dork, but I enjoyed the heck out of this book.
Doreen Green live in the Marvel Universe and always has, but I appreciate the lighter-heartedOK, I'm a dork, but I enjoyed the heck out of this book.
Doreen Green live in the Marvel Universe and always has, but I appreciate the lighter-hearted touch of this book than much other Marvel fare. I'm surprised to find myself reading two Marvel books (Ms. Marvel being the other).
Even before this series started, Squirrel-Girl was established as having a certain narrative invulnerability. It started in her first appearance (re-printed in this volume) humiliating Doctor Doom and becoming a running gag from there. I've seen some backlash against this (even comparing Squirrel Girl to Superman in invulnerability and therefore narrative boredom). But while I know she'll win (unbeatable is right there in her name, she's still entertaining in both her ingenuity and world-view. It's like the girls from Lumberjanes have invaded the world of Iron Man and the Hulk....more
As books derived from Facebook groups, this is a pretty good member of the genre. Excellent stocking-stuffer for the snarky English Major in your lifeAs books derived from Facebook groups, this is a pretty good member of the genre. Excellent stocking-stuffer for the snarky English Major in your life....more
I continue to enjoy this series. This volume seemed mostly to just move time forward without much in the way of theme or even real character developmeI continue to enjoy this series. This volume seemed mostly to just move time forward without much in the way of theme or even real character development.
I'm again reminded that there's something vaguely exploitative in this series that annoys me. Its the "look grim and gritty" of the sex and violence. Not even really sex as much as "look sex-parts!" or the graphic wounds. I get it that this a story set in a war, but the view is still too lingering, especially for a medium like comics that has such minute control over the images we see (and don't see).
Again, not bad. But something I'm going to put on a top shelf to keep my daughter from potentially having nightmares....more
And so I have this, a book which seems to have more in common with the quasi-religious scifi of my parents' generation like Robert A. Heinlein or Frank Herbert, though without quite so much high-falutin-ness....more
There are many ideas here that seem to have not been fully polished before Sir Terry's passing. First, Terry takes, us, the fThe last Terry Pratchett.
There are many ideas here that seem to have not been fully polished before Sir Terry's passing. First, Terry takes, us, the fans through a mourning process, showing that the world continues without Granny Weatherwax and without him. I appreciate that.
Other themes, with Geoffrey the calm-weaver (who I never came to trust) and the man-sheds, seemed to go nowhere. I feel like I missed something in Tiffany's relationship with Preston as well as this the title-naming shepherd's crown. The third incursion of elves into Discworld feels anticlamatic after Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men. Both of those books showed the conflict much better.
There was a much better book here that sadly we shall never see....more
I really loved the voice that the author gave our main character and found the log/diary format for the majority of the text to beThis was excellent.
I really loved the voice that the author gave our main character and found the log/diary format for the majority of the text to be a very engaging way follow the story. I was actually a bit disappointed when the POV shifted to 3rd person to give us views of NASA back on Earth.
Mark Watney's voice felt very natural and his sense of humor felt like the best of Randall Munroe's xkcd.com or What If?.
Could I go on? Yes, but I've been told I'm already a walking spoiler machine, so instead I say, just go read it....more
I feel stupid for not seeing the name of Hera in Heracles and ignorant for not knowing how the most over-Not as much fun as Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess.
I feel stupid for not seeing the name of Hera in Heracles and ignorant for not knowing how the most over-the-top of Greek heroes was renamed in Hera's honor. As George O'Connor notes, it does raise big questions about the Hercules myths as usually presented in the Western canon and pulp re-tellings. Was Heracles a hero cursed to have his own name remind him of his Olympian nemesis, or are the stories of his labors those of a hero of the Queen of the Gods. It's hard not to suspect some serious editing has intervened to shove Hera into the role of shrill villainess.
The last scene in the book, of Hera bathing in a sacred river to reset her yearly journey through the roles of maiden, mother, and crone reminds me of a local tradition in my father's beachside community. On the last full moon of the summer, the women of the town gather at the small communal beach to drink wine by candle-light and swim naked in the ocean. It is an all-female affair, that while a recent creation, feels like it has had echoes for centuries....more
A nice compilation in one place of Athena-centric myths. Aside from her birth and the Arachne myth, there don't tend to be as many myths exploring AthA nice compilation in one place of Athena-centric myths. Aside from her birth and the Arachne myth, there don't tend to be as many myths exploring Athena's personality. For all the Greek Pantheon, she tends to appear the most stand-offish (aside from a few other goddesses such as Hestia and Demeter who just seem embarrassed to even be there). George O'Connor sells this stand-offishness with the idea of a young woman who both never had a childhood and no interest in Greek norms of adult womanhood. This is not to say that the book is a deep meditation on female coming-of-age, but instead a sort of recognition that Athena was in many ways a goddess ahead of her time, a goddess who would be happy now to see the American wave of impressive, feminist, Title IX-inspired women....more
This book is definitely an example of its genre (speculative military fiction) and really can only be evaluated within that framework. Outside that frThis book is definitely an example of its genre (speculative military fiction) and really can only be evaluated within that framework. Outside that framework lie all kinds of problems involving disjointed narrative, stock characters, and hackneyed tropes. These things are pretty much a given in much of the alt-history or techno-thriller world.
Even with that pass, I still have some problems with this book.
During the initial assault, nothing goes wrong for the Chinese. They set-up their elaborate plans over huge spaces of both distance and time, and they had no failures of intelligence or equipment. Everything went just swimmingly. I don't buy it.
Next, all equipment currently being fielded by the American armed-forces is compromised, ill-designed, or obsolete crap. The authors go out of their way to praise the skill of the personnel, but the fighter jets are liabilities, the carriers and subs are sitting ducks and the much-maligned LCS' are floating coffins. In contrast, all the old cold-war equipment is dependable stuff that can be pulled out of mothballs to fight another day and the next-gen systems that the military brass is resisting (drone fighters, rail-guns, laser point-defense) are wunder-waffen that work nigh perfectly and have immediate effects that sway the outcome of any battle they are deployed to. Even turn-of-the-century hackers can come out of retirement and "pwn" their Chinese rivals so hard they end up dead of performance-enhancing drug-overdoses.
Then there's the three-month jump in the narrative from the Chinese attack until our heroes start actively working on the big plan. This conveniently skips the time-period in which diplomacy would be on the front-burner. We're told that NATO implodes instead of seeing it. We're told the President backs down from using (or apparently even threatening to use) nukes. I have real trouble seeing how a large-scale launch of ballistic missiles to hit (nuclear-powered) aircraft carriers wouldn't lead to a panicked nuclear exchange. Instead, the political, diplomatic, and nuclear realms seem to be off-limits for the authors.
Finally, I just don't see the point of the entire serial-killer plot-line. Was it just to give us "teh sexee" and provide more screen time in Hawaii? (incidentally, someone needs to remind the authors that there are more islands than just Oahu in Hawaii). All of Carrie Shin's and most of Markov's stories failed to add anything to the central story.
Maybe I just got my hopes up too far based on the reviews I'd read....more
I was a bit disappointed in this book. Mostly the disappointment was suffering in comparison to the earlier volume Rapunzel's Revenge. This didn't feeI was a bit disappointed in this book. Mostly the disappointment was suffering in comparison to the earlier volume Rapunzel's Revenge. This didn't feel nearly as tight a story or as meaningful. The reinterpretation of the giant's castle in the clouds to a floating airship penthouse was clever, but the addition of pixies and brownies to the world (especially the pixie/brownie interaction *ugh*) did little to define the world. There were references to Old World and New World but it just didn't hold together as well as the scenes with the dwarves in the first book.
Since I had a whole philosophical/economic discussion in my review of Rapunzel, I was prepped to find more social commentary in this volume. But i didn't find it, unless you're looking a simplified version of War is a Racket. Not a bad book, just a disappointing sequel.
After getting this book in a care package at camp, May decided that I would enjoy it and put it on my bedside table (displacing this week's Economist)After getting this book in a care package at camp, May decided that I would enjoy it and put it on my bedside table (displacing this week's Economist).
OK, cute idea. Spunky girl side-kick to medieval fantasy super-villain, I can get behind that. Super-villain with robotic arm, OK, a little odd. But the oddities keep building-up as the genre and setting become paradoxically less important.
Our villain (by the name of Blackheart, of course) is not so simple. He not only has a code, he prefers science to magic, he's befuddled by Nimona's abilities, and he has more reason to hate the Institute for Law Enforcement and Heroics for forcing him and his nemesis (Sir Goldenloin) into opposition than is apparent at the start.
But none of that is really important. Blackheart has his story and his arc, but it's fundamentally in service to Nimona's story which whiplashes between playfully violent, to confusing, to heart-wrenching. The whole time this young woman is walking the stage of this world there are whispers and yells that "this isn't right" and "she's throwing-off the balance of how things are supposed to be". Everyone, even her friends and allies are confused by the ease of her power and abilities. There's always a tension whether Nimona is just a monster or just a little girl without anyone quite able to see her as both at the same time....more
I found this in a used book shop in Cambridge (MA).
From a gaming perspective it gives a good selection of large towns-small cities that could easily bI found this in a used book shop in Cambridge (MA).
From a gaming perspective it gives a good selection of large towns-small cities that could easily be traced, modified, and repurposed for Medieval to Victorian settings. Some of the large cities (Liverpool, Edinburgh, London, Manchester) are clearly modern in whole or in part. But other towns (Chichester say) not only can be used for anywhere in an 900 year period, you can look at these maps and see the development of the town, the changes to street alignments when a bridge is built or a section of the city wall is taken down.
The accompanying text also reads like an adventure setting, just missing discussion of feuding barons or marauding goblins....more
This compellation is 3 separate stories. The Valentine's Day story with Loki is the best. I love that everyone in Jersey City is fineMore Kamala Khan.
This compellation is 3 separate stories. The Valentine's Day story with Loki is the best. I love that everyone in Jersey City is fine with Loki walking around complete with horned head-band just assuming he's a hipster from Brooklyn.
The main story is a classic Prince Charming type story. The book assumes I care more about internal politics among the Inhumans, but I don't care. I rather want Kamala to not care either. Yes, she is Inhuman they have cool training facilities and insights, but I feel like she has more to learn in New Jersey than New Attilan....more
First, let me say that I have only a little experience with the Call of Cthulhu (CoC) system from Chaosium (a single enjoyable adventure cut short byFirst, let me say that I have only a little experience with the Call of Cthulhu (CoC) system from Chaosium (a single enjoyable adventure cut short by the GM moving to New Jersey) and no experience with Savage Worlds. That said, I'm a sucker for WWII gaming and feel that there's always room for Cthulhu in any gaming setting (Lovecraftian horrors are like Jell-O that way).
There was very little of the Cthulhu in the Investigator's Guide. It was a pretty straight-up player's guide for running a SOE/OSS/Spec Ops character in a Western Europe WWII setting. Much of the background and information is stuff covered by say GURPS WWII, GURPS WWII: All the King's Men, GURPS WWII: Dogfaces, or GURPS WWII: Hand of Steel. For a CoC player I imagine it's most valuable as a way to expand from the normal 1920's setting to the 1940s. I feel like the changes to the Savages Worlds rules were greater to bring the characters into a setting with a greater focus on a Sanity stat, but again, I'm not as familiar with the system.
I'm looking forward to delving into the Achtung! Cthulhu: Keeper's Guide To The Secret War where I imagine I'll actually learn more about the alt-history of the setting and how the historical Nazi occult, the crazy conspiracy stuff (see The Nazi Occult by the inestimable Kenneth Hite), and Lovecraftian Mythos will merge. If I actually get a chance to play in this setting, it is unlikely to be in either CoC or Savage Worlds, so I'm glad to also own the FATE conversion book (unread as yet) and GURPS WWII: Weird War II
This was a mostly fun and interesting book. It had a feel of Freakonomics to it in the "everything you've known in your gut is wrong and can be betterThis was a mostly fun and interesting book. It had a feel of Freakonomics to it in the "everything you've known in your gut is wrong and can be better modeled by statistics - but in a non-condescending way".
Maybe it's just depressing social issues in the news, but I also had a feel like there was a lot of effort and brain power going into what is, at its heart, a game. It's just so... inside baseball. *sigh* It's bad when your metaphors become literal truths.
I'm a baseball fan, even at times a hardcore baseball fan. But then again, I'm not really. I enjoy watching the games. I follow one team that I was born into the fandom of - 4th generation Red Sox fan. I've never really cared about the stats or the trades and I get annoyed by off-season reporting (unless its about renovations to Fenway or such). So, for that I guess I'm not quite the target audience.
P.S. I feel the need to call out some misogyny in the Afterword. Michael Lewis was obviously offended by the attacks on this book and Billy Beane by the baseball cognoscenti and decided to "correct" them in the Afterword. Fine, maybe not the most polite way of winning an argument, but it's your bully pulpit to do with what you want. He calls out the baseball insiders as a quasi-religious Club (fine) and then goes on the label the sports media as the Women's Auxiliary. Repeatedly. It took me a bit to realize that this was meant as an insult, a diminutive, to further insult. Pardon the French, but What the Fuck? In the 21st century can we please be past insulting men by calling them girls? Also, as the grandson of a proud member of the Eastern Star and the WAACs, I urge you to look up the good works done by Women's Auxiliaries around the world before using the term as short-hand for nattering busybodies. That is all....more
**spoiler alert** More hack-and-slash fun with the Rat Queens. As requested we get more detail on Dee's backstory as the unearthly minions of the Love**spoiler alert** More hack-and-slash fun with the Rat Queens. As requested we get more detail on Dee's backstory as the unearthly minions of the Lovecraftian god of her forebears are the major threat of this volume. Their psychic manipulations provide a good structural mechanism for flashbacks into the histories of Violet, Hanna, and even Orc Dave. Flashbacks are noticeably absent for Betty who seems to be immune to mind-manipulation by reason of pre-existing hallucinations (I'll have to remember that one for the next time I face a cthuloid menace).
I admit to being a bit confused and underwhelmed by Hanna's romance storyline with Sawyer. It gives us sexy-times, but casual-vs-serious, revealing secrets/rejection, and being used to punish the other feels a little pat to me. Also, her flashback seems to conflict with her 'phone-call' from Mom, so how trustworthy are any of these visions?
The big thing for me is Dee. Yes, she is confronted by her husband trying to convince her to give up on her atheistic vision-quest. But that hardly slows her down. Instead, she is willing to don the helmet of I'm-not-gonna-pronounce-that both to save her town and to finally see for herself if the god she has rejected really exists. I can respect that. On top of it, she finds out she was wrong. The god does exist - but this only leads to her doubling-down on her rejection, accepting the mantle of high-priestess and and the responsibility of protecting all the followers of N'rygoth from their god (and I assume themselves). Definitely down with that....more
So at first this looks like a simple fairy-tale retelling - another "self-rescuing princess" story with the added bit of an Old West setting layered oSo at first this looks like a simple fairy-tale retelling - another "self-rescuing princess" story with the added bit of an Old West setting layered over the pseudo-medieval towers, princes, giants, and dwarves. As with many such stories it also has an admirable move to a more diverse cast with a range of skin-tones and cultures also representative of the Old West. Deepening that combination is the conflation of Rapunzel with Annie Oakley (although I have some reservations about the "spit-fire redhead" trope).
But after some thought I think there is a deeper story here than either the original ladder-locks moral (what was the moral of that one again? Don't steal from witches?), or the spunky strong-female fairy-tale princess, or even the rescue-my-family-and-revenge noted in the title. The deeper story is about poverty.
The most obvious part of this story is Jack's goose, Goldie. "Killing the goose that laid the golden egg" is an idiom for stupidly taking an immediate benefit from (and destroying) a system that can sustainably support you for the long-term. But being able to look past the immediate is a privilege that not everyone has. Jack is constantly defending Goldie against all comers who see the bird as noting but a quick meal. This is reflected in the harsh world that Mother Gothel has made within her Reach. The residents of Pig Gulch have given up on moving to more fertile land because the fertility will just be stolen from them again. The Duggers eke by fishing with pick-axes because they just don't have the spare energy to fight a sea-serpent and fish better waters. Everyone in this world is focused on their next meal. In game theory, everyone is assuming they are in the last round, so there is no reason not to defect from the group and grab as much benefit as possible - there is no future (or rather, no dependable future). Early on Jack laments his "investment" having been stolen by bandits.
The only 3 characters who seem to plan for the future are Mother Gothel (who is raising Rapunzel to be as brutal a tyrant as possible to replace her), Jack (clinging to Goldie as his only life-line), and Rapunzel (who is able to think only as far as rescuing her mother and getting her out of the Gothel's Reach).
So I'm not sure what the moral here is. Perhaps a) don't judge so harshly those who see no hope in the future - if you are just trying to get through today, then values look different. Or maybe b) if you want a better tomorrow, you need to work for tomorrow and stand up to those who are trying to take it away....more
A fun book digging into the absurdities of space flight programs. Some absurdities are physiological (you body does NOT like microgravity), some are lA fun book digging into the absurdities of space flight programs. Some absurdities are physiological (you body does NOT like microgravity), some are logistical (poop in SPACE!), and some are bureaucratic (how did a bunch of veterinarians end up in charge of making food for astronauts?).
Mary Roach's style is fun and irreverent. But the subject matter is also serious. Over all this history of Apollo, Gemini, Mercury, Shuttle, Salyut, Soyuz, Mir, and the ISS programs looms the title of the book. Not a whole lot of time is spent spelling out the specific challenges of a Mars mission - and yet that's exactly what these stories are illustrating. Not through mission planning desk-bound thought exercises, but through what actual women and men have suffered through, and continue to suffer through, both in space and on the ground, to forward the human need to explore our frontiers....more
Oh my was this fun! I enjoyed the heck out of this book. My daughter is enjoyed the heck out of this book. It's clear the author enjoyed the heck outOh my was this fun! I enjoyed the heck out of this book. My daughter is enjoyed the heck out of this book. It's clear the author enjoyed the heck out of this book.
So the book starts with a historical account of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and the Difference Engine (and it's progeny the Analytical Engine) - presented in an entertaining storytelling style, complete with footnotes and endnotes - (akin to the Cartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the Great). So far, so good. But this section ends quickly and on a down-note with Lovelace dead of cancer and Babbage unable to get over himself to actually build any of his designs.
But as we have seen in so much alternate history from The Difference Engine to Fiddlehead, the idea of a Victorian-era steam-and-cogs computer is just too good to let facts reign and history to have the last say. So Sydney Padua transports us to a pocket universe where the laws of physics are set to maximize entertainment value and the book roars onward, now looking increasingly like Girl Genius, Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank only with a historically accurate cast of characters instead of a fictional one (well except for Minion the Footman).
Oh, and the footnotes continue. Almost every statement uttered by Lovelace, Babbage, or various supporting characters in the book is straight from their own writings or supported with primary documents. And the supporting cast is broad from the Duke of Wellington, to Islambard Kingdom Brunel, to George Eliot, to Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson, to Queen Victoria herself. Eventually the footnotes themselves become a character in a Wonderland-inspired investigation into the truth of Ada Lovelace's character and contribution to the Analytical Engine and computer science as a field.
And throughout this all, as we watch these absurd Victorian characters and learn about the design of the Analytical Engine and the logic of computing, there's another story being told. The author is able to show us so much about Babbage and Lovelace's personalities and victories because of the triumph of computing. The Google Books project and others like it have opened the world of historical primary sources to interested amateurs like Padua in a way that really has never been possible before. The author is able to wade into decades-old debates with a sharp pen and over-looked sources because of the work of Babbage and Lovelace's intellectual progeny who have continued the drive to organize, collate, and analyze the world's knowledge.
This was not the book I expected it to be nor the book I wanted. Even though it is a slim 143 pages (excluding notes, bibliography, and index) it wOi.
This was not the book I expected it to be nor the book I wanted. Even though it is a slim 143 pages (excluding notes, bibliography, and index) it was a slog to complete. I kept looking for the discussions of deep mathematical theory and philosophy to get back to a history of wargaming and being disappointed.
This book is deeply Prussian in its subject and deeply German in its convoluted sentence structure and vocabulary. I had not been that lost in sentence structure and circular logic since I had to read Immanuel Kant back in college.
There are moments of interest here. The discussion of the medieval Battle of Numbers seems like a good background. The first Napoleonic-era sand-table games sound like exactly what I was looking for a better examination of - but instead of talking about how these games were played or how they simulated reality, this book gives us discourses on a combination of court/academic politics and philosophical ruminations on incalcuability or reality (and not in a fun way like The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer).
There are also fleeting moments of insight that are open to the lay-person (or polisci major in my case) - the repeated wargaming of a Polish invasion of Silesia in the Weimar period basically solidified a story that the Nazis (unsuccessfully) tried to invoke in 1939. This is an important insight into how simulation and game can shape the real world through control of expectations. But sadly, this was a very small snippet of a book mostly focused on debates among academic mathematicians about deep number theory ideas that I really don't care about and fail to see as relating to games.
After slogging to the end of this book, I was treated to the conclusion that the idea of a game cannot ever truly be defined and that a game can only really be understood through the act of playing it.
Maybe my time would have been better employed in a game of online chess....more
While I enjoyed having Ganymede set in New Orleans and other booSadly, the last of the Clockwork Century novels.
Also sadly, no time spent in Seattle.
While I enjoyed having Ganymede set in New Orleans and other books set outside of Seattle, this was the first volume to be so very untethered to that ruined city. It was much more broad in scope, with the fate of nations (the continent! correct Gideon, again) in the balance, and it felt a bit weaker for that.
I feel like Cherie Priest read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and saw it is an inevitable end-game to her zombies, but the Blight-zombies were never so contagious as the classic Romero/Brooks variety. I'm afraid I just had trouble imagining 2 nations equipped for war having much trouble with a bunch of former drug-addict zombies. That and a final note at just how permeable the battle-lines of this 20-year Civil War seem to have become.
For all my complaints though, I'll miss these characters....more
This is the first of the Clockwork Century books not to be named after some great big absurd piece of steampunk technology. Instead we have a deeper lThis is the first of the Clockwork Century books not to be named after some great big absurd piece of steampunk technology. Instead we have a deeper look at the world of Seattle and the politics of controlling that city and the drug-trade that fuels it all.
I feel a bit like I ought to go back and re-read Boneshaker to see if it had a good justification for the continued presence of the Doornails and Chinatown in the Blighted parts of Seattle. I can almost see Chinatown staying in the walls instead of facing abuse outside, but the doornails seem to just be hiding in general. This book makes it clear that the maintenance of the Underground is failing after 18 years and that only the influx of scads of drug money are paying to keep everything running. Since the Doornails seem to be sap-agnostic and trending towards anti-drug-dealing, I have trouble seeing how Yaozu and the Station will continue to subsidize their existence. I could buy the idea of noblesse oblige with the more psychotic Dr. Minnericht, but clearly the status quo is unsustainable.
And that's the central idea of the book - although told through the ideas of a drug-addicted 18-year-old orphan. Rector Sherman (and most of the other characters) doesn't seem to have the mental capacity to see the cracks in the system, but others from the outside do and try to force an earlier collapse only to fail due to poor intelligence work and general hubris. ...more
This is a tight little novella that I had missed as taking place between Boneshaker and Dreadnought. It is the first of the Clockwork Century books IThis is a tight little novella that I had missed as taking place between Boneshaker and Dreadnought. It is the first of the Clockwork Century books I have gotten to that doesn't revolve (at least in part) around Blight, sap, and rotters.
Instead the driving force is the decades-long Civil War and the mad-genius tech absurdities being sought to break the deadlock. I grant you, this is also a theme in Dreadnought and Ganymede, but here is stands a little more alone if only because of the shorter length. Focus on this storyline also produces a stronger "a pox on both their houses" take on the Civil War than I am used to. As a born-and-bred Connecticut Yankee (my ancestors sat beside John Brown for abolitionist sermons in a little church in Torrington, CT) I find that a little hard to swallow at times. Yes, the Union was run by a bunch of arrogant, bloody, mechanistic bastards who at times made Marshal Foch look like a humanitarian; but there's no question in my mind at the right and wrong sides of the Civil War.
As usual Cherie Priest has a real knack for summoning characters into the reader's mind in full depth and color, even for minor walk-ons. I swear part of this is the amazing names she provides (Croggon Beauregaurd Hainey, Maria Isabella "Belle" Boyd), they're just amazing pulp poetry....more
**spoiler alert** A good second volume, but not as good as the first.
Getting Kamela settled into a larger Marvel Universe is rather necessary I suppos**spoiler alert** A good second volume, but not as good as the first.
Getting Kamela settled into a larger Marvel Universe is rather necessary I suppose, but a bit flat and uninteresting to me. The Inhumans and their backstory don't mean much to me and don't really add much to Kamela's story. This is somewhat mediated by Kamela's fan-girling upon meeting Wolverine - their interaction is very fun. I leave it to other fans to say if Logan as presented is in keeping with his character.
I am not overly enamored of the generational politics that dominate the second half. The idea that Gen Yers can be convinced that they are more valuable as Matrix-style human batteries than as future members of society is rather laughable to me. From my experience, Millenials have a clear sense of purpose and plans (however small) to build a better world. They don't seem to suffer from the desperate depression that my own Gen X did at their age....more