Recent Reading - 2017
The Artificial Kid
Sterling, BruceBruce Sterling
A world of challenges, some real and some merely for style, face "The Kid". Not everything works as expected when visitors arrive on Reverie.
Penric and Desdimona
Bujold, Lois McMasterLois McMaster Bujold
This is my own "compilation" of a series of novellas. I read them in a row, even though they have been published independently.
Penric accidentally becomes the host to a long-lived elemental, a demon of the Bastard, one of the five gods in this fantasy universe. The former host of the demon suffers a heart attack on the road just as Penric passes and when he jumps off his horse to help, the demon transfers.
The novellas combined well as a serial read.
All the Light We Cannot See
Doerr, AnthonyAnthony Doerr
World War II as viewed through the eyes of two young people, German boy Werner and French girl Marie-Laure. Beautiful language, written in episodic chapters which alternate between characters and early and late stages of the war gradually flow together into a rich story of a terrible time and the toll it took on everyone.
Doctorow, CoryCory Doctorow
Rebellion of youth leads Natalie to walk away from her domineering and super rich family. There are places which "default" society has abandoned. They make good territory for squatters in 2071. Natalie's father is not pleased and spends some of his money to retrieve his wayward daughter.
Lots of interesting post-scarcity big ideas in this book.
No Middle Name
Child, LeeLee Child
This is the collected short stories about Jack Reacher. One of them is about thirteen-year-old Reacher. Even then he's not called Jack, even by his family.
It is not good to be a bully when Reacher is in the neighborhood.
Gaiman, NeilNeil Gaiman and Patchett, TerryTerry Patchett
A fantasy of Armageddon, centered in the English village of Lower Tadfield. Humor, philosophy and a skewed look at religion make this book worth reading.
Wilde, FranFran Wilde
A coming-of-age novel set in a world where one can strap on silk and batten wings, launch into the air from growing bone towers and soar above the clouds. Kirit is poised to take the test which will allow her to fly beside her mother as a trader, visiting all the towers of the widespread city. She breaks a rule and her plans are in jeopardy.
Beagle, Peter S.Peter S. Beagle
An ordinary couple meet an extraordinary young woman and their lives change. It is inevitable. The couple offer the young woman a place to stay. The young woman is on the run.
There's excellent writing here and a fantasy twist you will appreciate.
Smith, Nicholas SansburyNicholas Sansbury Smith
A cross between a "super soldier" drug and ebola converts humans to monsters. The military made the virus. Naturally, the military will have to save the day. There are more volumes to this series. My stack of books to read is already too tall.
Sandford, JohnJohn Sandford
A professor of antiquities steals a stele from an archeological dig in Israel and smuggles it to Minnesota. Virgil has to break off an interesting fraud investigation of a local redneck.
Willis, ConnieConnie Willis
Briddey and her boyfriend sign up for an emotional enhancement device so they can better connect as they get engaged. The operation is a complete success, until the voices intrude.
Dead on my Feet
Konrath, J.A.J.A. Konrath
Phinneas Troutt isn't a nice guy, but he tries to help others. Unfortunately, he's dying of cancer, treating himself with drugs and booze instead of another round of chemotherapy. When he's hired by a doctor to protect her clinic, he's faced with the prospect of real trouble.
Moon, ElizabethElizabeth Moon
Ky Vatta, young admiral of an important spaceforce, needs to visit her home planet, the first visit since her abrupt dismissal from the planet's prestige military academy. Slotter Key is not somewhere she wants to go, but family is important to the Vatta clan. The visit does not go as planned.
Eggers, DaveDave Eggers
Getting a job at the Circle is a dream come true. Imagine Google AND Apple mixed together. Mae quickly finds herself in the middle of a skyrocketing arc, with EVERYONE watching! Think about that.
Too Like the Lightning
Palmer, AdaAda Palmer
In the 25th century, nation states are no longer so important as being part of a self-selected group. Its effectively like voting with your feet, and members of the group can be spread out anywhere worldwide. Fortunately, one such clan has the ability to provide anyone with rapid, safe transportation. This story examines the challenges of maneuvering among the world's leaders. And don't discuss religion!
Pon, CindyCindy Pon
Skybright, her childhood friend Zhen Ni and the almost-monk Kai Sen cross from youth to adulthood after they close the breach to the underworld. Skybright comes to grips with her demonic, serpentine half while travelling with Stone, the immortal intermediary between humans and the gods.
Pon, CindyCindy Pon
Skybright is the handmaid and friend of Zhen Ni. Living in Xian is dangerous because there are demons abroad in the land. Apprentice monk Kai Sen encounters Skybright when she slips out of the family compound to visit her beloved forest. She was found there as a baby and taken in by the Yuan family, raised to be Zhen Ni's handmaid, but was more like a sister.
Skybright inevitably learns that she's not just an orphan rescued from the forest, but is actually half demon herself.
"Computers" are people, mostly women, many black, who do calculations with the aid of mechanical calculators. They work for engineers whose job is to make flying safer, faster and more efficient. They work tirelessly to win World War II. Then their mission changes when the Russians launch Sputnik. NASA is born and the push is on. This is the story of the struggle to be the best one can be in spite of the Jim Crow laws of the state of Virginia. It is the story of the inexorable advance of aeronautic and space science and of those who do the math to get astronauts into orbit and safely home. It is also the story of the inexorable advance from obscurity that the black, female computers made to become recognized for their math skills, engineering prowess and indomitable human spirit.
Children of Time
Tchaikovsky, AdrianAdrian Tchaikovsky
An arc ship from a poisoned Earth approaches a terraformed world hoping to colonize. An Old Empire sentinel satellite is circling the planet and is warning them off.
This excellent story weaves biology, social interaction and "first contact" science fiction themes with excellent effect.
Remnants of Trust
Bonesteel, ElizabethElizabeth Bonesteel
Carrying a convicted ship's captain, a Central Corps starship is attacked with a high loss of life. The Galileo, her captain Greg Foster and chief of engineering Elena Shaw go after the Syndicate raiders who masterminded the attack. Elena and Greg struggle with their relationship. This series seems to be a mix of romance genre and space opera.
The Cold Between
Bonesteel, ElizabethElizabeth Bonesteel
This book is a first novel, and it also a crisply written space opera. Very well developed characters and a driving story. I am looking forward to more.