NB: I received an ARC of this book via the Amazon Vine Program. This book is slated for release in September.
Terry Pratchett is best known for his Discworld novels, ranging from the Colour of Magic to Making Money. Within that canon, Pratchett has written a few novels explicitly labeled for young adults (starting with the Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents).
Continue reading Book Review 2008 #37: Nation
Scientists Find Trigger for Northern Lights – NYTimes.com
Scientists are pretty sure now what triggers the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, and now have something that they might be able to use as a first step toward a predictive model.
The short answer (do read the entire article though) magnetic storms on the sun but not in the way previously predicted by the old paradigm.
Wyrdsmiths: Star Wars Exhibit
On the Wyrdsmiths blog, Kelly McCullough talks about the Star Wars exhibit and how what a writer does is affected by its audience.
The take home ending paragraph really brings this home:
Perhaps that’s all generalizable to something like the writer has to understand that the audience is part of the story and that’s true from the moment you start writing something you intend to share.
Not quite “diaries”, but Scott, playing Kunrad in my Exalted FTF game, has been giving summaries of plots, plans, adventures and agendas. Here is his latest email after Saturday’s game:
> OK, we’re now in the Labyrinth, and we’ll probably be leaving
> by a different route than we entered. One MAJOR bonus of that is
> that if Lord Scythe has an ambush waiting for us on the way back,
> we’re not going back that way. One major downside is that we’ll be
> taking the scenic route back, which isn’t Kunrad’s favorite idea.
> Finish the Labyrinth expedition – Working on it, two more
> locations to go through that we know of. Hopefully it will be a bit
> before we get to the next one, Kunrad burned off 14 motes in that
> fight, which is about 30% of his available motes.
Done. We were too late to rescue our comrades, but not too late to
save them from the Black Exaltation, and we were able to reduce the
Mask’s cohort of Deathknights by another 2. Not to mention the
destruction of 3 Monstrances, which will hurt him badly as well,
forcing him to replace them before he can raise more Abyssals. We are
just not going to be his favorite people in the future, I doubt he’ll
invite us to any masqued balls in Thorns, and I doubt we should accept
if he does. 🙂
> 1) – Go to Yu-Shan for the Calibration Festival (and spread copies
> of the Manifesto about). This will depend on where we are relative
> to a gate to Yu-Shan when we come out of the Underworld. We know
> of one in Nexus, but from the sound of things Cold House is well
> south of Thorns so that may not be the best way to get to Yu-Shan
> (though it likely WOULD be the best way out).
Looks like we’re going to Yu-Shan first, which will work out well
enough. Got to finish up the Manifesto, then, so we can hand Kojak a
copy and slap him on the back. 🙂
> 2) – Return to Great Kills to retrieve our mounts. Kunrad
> certainly doesn’t want to leave Fred to the tender mercies of the
> Abyssals, and I doubt that any one else wants to leave their mount
> there either.
Still on the plan: after Yu-Shan, we exit via Nexus or some other
location even closer to Great Kills and make a QUICK trip back into
the Underworld to retrieve Fred, Czar, and the rest of the mounts.
> [Out here it gets fuzzy, so I’m changing to letters….]
> A) – Pilgrimage to raise Essence. Kunrad’s been saving his EXP of
> late to be in a position post-Yu-Shan to raise his Essence, on the
> theory that more Essence is a good thing and we’ll need more when we
> go back to reclaim the Temple of Sol Invictus in Meru.
This remains an option, and Kunrad now has 29 of the 32 points he
needs to raise his essence.
> B) – More forgework – Kunrad has some plans for various items for
> people (Dragon Iron needs a thunderbolt shield, Anathea and Lorius
> need more potent weapons, Viola needs the jade plates in her buff
> jacket replaced, hearthstone bracers need to be made up (see C),
> Viola needs a Dragon Tear Tiara, etc).
Still an option. Also, if DI wants, a grand daiklave can be made
up. It probably won’t be as good as the one he had in the First Age
(Kunrad’s currently limited to 3-dot artifacts), but if the siren-song
of the two-handed weapon’s calling to him, it can be arranged.
> C) – Find more manses and make them ours – Ideally, all of the
> Solars in the group would have at least 2-3 Hearthstones each, and
> the DBs would have at least 1 each. Having the extra hearthstones
> would be VERY handy in a situation where we need to keep going and
> going and going, not to mention the potential abilities they give.
Definitely still an option, ties in with the research Kunrad and
Anathea were doing in Nexus on 1st Age sites in the Nexus region.
Also, it would not be a surprise at all if there were some old
manses/demenses near the factory cathedral: if that was Charen’s base
of power in the late 1st Age, there likely were others in the area.
It’s not often that you read a novel which creates a subgenre, sui generis. Implied Spaces, by Walter Jon Williams, manages that feat with the inauguration of the “Sword and Singularity” subgenre of SF.
For those who don’t know what a Singularity is, in brief, its the idea that when trans-human intelligences (be it computer, cyborg or what have you) come into existence, life and history as we know it will be utterly transformed, and life after it will be as alien to us as our modern technological existence is alien to our ancestors in the Paleolithic era.
In Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams creates a “sword and singularity” novel. What this means is, pace S.M. Stirling, is that fantasy ideas, tropes and even settings are convincingly melded with the high technology of a post-Singularity environment. We start off the novel in a fantasy world environment that, if it were just a random tidbit found on the internet, would at first look like a well written but ordinary fantasy novel. Aristide has a talking cat, sure, but in a world of trolls and monsters, that’s not unusual.
When his sword comes out, and starts acting like Morgaine Chaya’s Changeling, complete with a wormhole, the reader starts getting an inkling that there is much more to the universe than meets the eye. We soon get ever grander vistas and situations as, with Aristide as our guide, we meet A.I.’s, post-human characters, wormhole technology, mass drivers using wormholes as weapons, and technology capable of affecting the most fundamental elements of reality.
As Keanu Reeves famously once said: “Whoa!”
The book is philosophical, comic, action packed, thoughtful and stunningly well written. I’ve been a fan of Williams work for a long while, and he hits all cylinders here. This novel is precisely for people who can read good fat fantasy, and yet strongly appreciate the High-tech SF of, say, Charlie Stross.
MPR: News Cut: Starbuck’s closings
Two of the three nearest Starbucks to me are ones that are closing, as it so happens.
Lose baggage, keep raising prices, cut back on service, continue to make flying unpleasant. Oh, and turn MSP into its own personal fiefdom, with very little competition.
So, why would I turn into a lobbyist/advocate on its behalf? Northwest decided to send an email to its customers, joining with other airlines, urging me to contact Congress to help them rein in high oil prices.
Again, why exactly would I use my time to do this?
Continue reading The sheer cheek of NWA
Legacies is the first book in L.E. Modesitt’s Corean Chronicles series.
Continue reading Book Review 2008 #35: Legacies
So what turned out to be a very stormy night, I went with a co worker after work to see “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair.
The movie makes a few concessions to people who may have seen the underestimated previous entry, sketching in who and what Hellboy is, a demon from another dimension working for the not-very-secret Bureau of Paranormal Investigations. A misfit in a group of Misfits, Hellboy wants to fit in, be recognized, be loved for what he does: thumping those who go thumping in the night.
This time, instead of Rasputin and Gods of Chaos, we have an Elf Prince as the antagonist. A bedtime story by Hellboy’s discoverer in a flashback tells us the tale of the Elves and their Golden army, an unstoppable force that is put to slumber for a long time–until Prince Nuada decides that humans have raped and pillaged the Earth enough, and will even kill his father for the chance to start up the army again. And then there is his twin sister, who opposes his plan, but is bound to him all the same…
With a surprising amount of pathos, regret, and complexity to the storyline and the conflicts, Hellboy II hits on nearly every cylinder, every time. Dealing with a rampaging forest god, the last of its kind, gives a surprisingly poignant tone, for example.
Del Toro shows his penchant for fantasy creatures, too, with a Goblin Market which is the fantasy equivalent of the Mos Eisley cantina in the sheer number of strange creatures. The Bureau team, including Hellboy himself, look completely unremarkable in this amazingly detailed space where I couldn’t possibly catch everyone and everything happening on the screen.
Love, hope, sacrifice, rollicking action, and a healthy dollop of humor, the cinematic experience of the movie was a treat for both me and my friend from work. As a story and a film, its not quite as good as the superb Pan’s Labyrinth, but as a comic book movie, it gives Iron Man a real run for its money.
I liked it a lot, and I will definitely buy it on DVD. I think the movie is enhanced for seeing the original, but its not strictly necessary to do so.