Monday, September 28, 2009

You Think You Have A Tough Job?

Larry Correia; Monster Hunter International (Baen Books; 2009; ISBN 978-1-4391-3285-2; cover art by Allan Pollack).

Owen Z. Pitt is living the American Dream. He's got a good job, low stress, good pay. Well, until his boss turns out to be a werewolf, Owen has to battle him, and ends up in the hospital (mostly dead) with the FBI there threatening to kill him.

Yes, another dull day in the life of Owen Z. Pitt!

It turns out that Monsters Walk Among Us and they aren't the sexy, goth-dripping, angst-ridden (starved looking) sex objects of the movies or the shelves of various bookstore shelves. Monsters are evil, nasty, icky things that want to rip your arms and legs off, drink your blood and send your soul to hell.

Luckily (for us) the various undead (and others) are not immune to a sufficient application of force. Force as in enough bullets, enough high explosives, enough claymores, enough grenades. After the departure of the FBI, Owen hooks up with Monster Hunter International, a private corporation (most definitely "for profit") dedicated to erasing monsters from the Earth and making a few good bucks (thanks to a government bounty) at the same time.

Guns, God and Guts, as the saying goes, made America and it helps to keep America (and the rest of the world!) free of Gore, Gollums and the God-damned (O.K., I'm stretching for the metaphor here). Monster Hunter International is a fun read and I recommend it highly. Correia might go overboard with his lust of personal weapons, but more than makes up for it with evil vampires, the truth behind Elves and Orcs and more. Did somebody say there was a sequel coming? Is it out yet?

(Click on the link for a fairly large sample of the book.)
It's Turtles All the Way Down

Terry Pratchett; Eric (HarperTorch; 2002; ISBN 978-0-380-82121-1; cover artist not indicated).

Terry Pratchett; Jingo (HarperTorch; 1998; ISBN 978-0-06-105906-3; cover artist not indicated).

Terry Pratchett; Moving Pictures (HarperTorch; 2002; ISBN 978-0-06-102063-6; cover artist not indicated).

Terry Pratchett; The Truth (HarperCollins; 2000; ISBN 0-380-97895-4; cover art by Chip Kidd).

Terry Pratchett; Making Money (HarperTorch; 2007; ISBN 978-0-06-116164-3; cover art by Scott McKowan).

(NOTE: As of this writing, I am reading, but have not completed Moving Pictures and The Truth...just letting you know what is coming!)

Ah, the turtle that strides through space! The elephants! The disc! The humor!

Especially the humor. Things have been getting wacky again on the personal front, so I picked up The Canon According to Pratchett to Get My Mind Off Things.

Notice, kids, that is "canon" with one "n" not two "nn's" as in "cannon"!

Eric continues the adventures of the ever-bumbling wizard Rincewind after his troubles in Sourcery. It was a fun little romp, and any appearance by the feared Luggage is worth it, but the Rincewind tales tend to be my least favorite of the stories.

With Jingo, we see what is up with Sir Samuel Vimes and the City Watch. The drums of war are beating and Ankh-Morpork and the land of Klatch when an island (Leshp) rises between them. Assassination attempts, arson, beatings, attempted murder, armies being raised and the disappearance of Lord Vetinari (after he resigns as Patrician of Our Fair City) all scheme to make life for Sir Sam...complicated. Good stuff.

Making Money was a re-read, so to speak: I had come across a reduced-price copy of the unabridged audiobook and wanted to give it a try. A further incentive was learning that the next Discworld book, Unseen Academicals, is soon to be published, so I wanted to refresh my memory on events. The narrator, Stephen Briggs, has performed Discworld stories on the stage, has written or co-written a number of "non-fiction" Discworld books and has narrated several of the books previously. How good a job does he do? Well, in reading Moving Pictures and The Truth, I "hear" him as the voices of the narrator and the various characters. I will need to seek out more of his audiobooks!

With The Truth, we introduce a few new characters and add to the "Industrial Revolution" sequence. Newspapers and journalism come to Ankh-Morpork. Not only journalism, but sensationalist journalism and serious journalism. It is amazing to watch a whole new industry grow in the fertile...soil...of Our Fair City. One of Pratchett's best.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

No Bucks. No Buck Rogers.

Executive summary of Augustine Commission. Reaction. Pretty much what I expected. We'll be stuck in LEO for-freaking-ever.

There are no technological reasons keeping us on this planet. Only a lack of political will.
The Space Review

Three articles of interest (to me, if you want more...) from the current issue of The Space Review. Can we expand the use of "COTS" ("Commercial Orbital Transportation Services") beyond what it is now? When space and art collide (and I'm still annoyed that Sir Arthur C. Clarke was never the first writer in space!). Dwayne Day soldiers on, watching Defying Gravity. Thanks, Dwayne, for your efforts but I'll still pass!
The Daily News

Michael Yon makes an appearance in The New York Daily News.
Cargo Carrier

If all goes well, Japan will be launching its first cargo vehicle to the International Space Station on Thursday.
The Big Empty

The New Horizons probe, on its way to an encounter with Pluto (and beyond!) is now halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus (no jokes, please). Remember...each "gap" between an orbit is significantly bigger than the previous "gap"...we still have a very long way to Pluto!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Grand Conspiracy

Any day now the bookstores will be flooded with the latest piece of pulp by that Brown fella. I thought his most recent book sounded kind of interesting when I heard an interview on the radio where he was joking about conspiracy and such and how he didn't believe in any of what he wrote. Then a few months later, when it became Hot Property, I heard another interview. This time he believed in all that, the Church was acting against him, blah, blah, blah.


So, in celebration of this upcoming release, let's read something of quality instead. I nominate Umberto Eco. Give The Name of the Rose or Foucault's Pendulum a try.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

And Now That You've Caught Up...

Ansible 266!

She's still at it...

MARGARET ATWOOD told her Edinburgh Book Festival audience that she doesn't write 'sci-fi' because her books don't contain (all together now!) 'talking squid'. Rather more cunningly, Marina Lewycka stated that she was not clever or imaginative enough to write 'sci-fi'. [JD]


URSULA K. LE GUIN, reviewing Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, seizes on the key point which makes this novel Definitely Not Science Fiction: 'It is no comfort to find that some of the genetic experiments are humanoids designed to replace humanity. Who wants to be replaced by people who turn blue when they want sex, so that the men's enormous genitals are blue all the time? Who wants to believe that a story in which that happens isn't science fiction?' (Guardian)

And I heard it earlier, but it bears repeating:

Pete Young reports glad news: 'Miles Tanat Young was born on 4 August 2552 (that's not the distant future, that's the Thai calendar), in Bangkok, weighing 3.75kg. Named after Miles Davis and not Miles Vorkosigan, no matter what Del Cotter thinks.'

How could I have overlooked Issue 265 of the ever-wonderful Ansible? Stop that man's grog!

GREG EGAN has been misrepresented: 'Powered only by two self-evident memes—(a) that only one person in 20 million could possibly have a name as exotic as "Greg Egan", and (b) anything found on the web is true and should be copied without question—photographs of an illustrious professor of electrical engineering from Monash University have been popping up on obscure fannish web sites recently, next to articles about my books. I thought this harmless replicator would soon burn itself out, but little did I know: it turns out that as far back as 2006, it had already crossed into a new host and infected the dust jacket of a Spanish translation of Axiomatic. I'm now dreading the day my passport's biometric chip succumbs, and I'm arrested at the airport for identity theft. Several family members have already hinted that they suspect I'm an impostor, since I lack the beard and other distinguishing features of the official, Web 2.0-approved Greg Egan.'
Fred's Reading Report (August 2009)

Wow! Year's almost some ways. How so?

Books read? 223! The train keeps on a-rolling! August included...

Larry Correia: Monster Hunter International (highly recommended as a very fun read).

William Gibson: Pattern Recognition (better this time through, but that seems to be my usual procedure with Gibson...first time through, so-so, subsequent read, appreciate it more).

Masashi Kishimoto: Naruto, Volumes 29 through 41 (when I hit 45, that will be it until October...what will I do?).

Patrick O'Brian: 21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (what to read next?).

John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor: Von Neumann's War (how many other books work a mathematician into their title?).

Lewis Thomas: Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (and several more collections of essays still to go).

Roger Zelazny: The Dream Master (still working this one through).

Short stuff? 326, will I make it to 365? No doubt, as that count is actually lower than reality. Just been lazy, as with reviews, in keeping it up to date.