the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for May 2011

Thanks to a busier than expected work schedule lately,  I haven’t got much reading done.    Here’s hoping the work schedule goes back to normal one of these days.

I have no book review for you today, no author love letters, no recipes for chocolate covered snacks,  no photos of book pr0n,  nuthin’.

So I totally cheated, and pulled some goodies off my Google reader that I thought you would enjoy.

Enjoy!

Pat of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is trying to decide if he should start Tweeting or not. Go tell him what you think of Twitter.

I have no idea what Mona Lisa Motion Comic is, but it looks hella cool.

Stainless Steel Droppings has a rockin’ new look, it’s teh uber-slick!

Lavie Tidhar’s new novella, Osama, is available for pre-order. I was lucky enough to get an E-ARC of this, so stay tuned for a review. Tidhar’s steampunk-ish The Bookman didn’t do much for me, but I’ve greatly enjoyed his short fiction.

My buds (Hi Scott! Hi Chris!) at Iceberk Ink have a “spoilerific” Doctor Who post. I haven’t looked at it yet, not sure I want to. But you can.

>Firefly didn’t much care for Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, but I’ve enjoyed the miniseries on TV and playing the board game, so this is a historical fiction that I’m interested in reading. If I can survive Sarum I can survive anything, right?

Also, Mii cupcakes. That’s kinda creepy.   And odd.

Or, as I’ve been saying lately, “that’s ood”.

Now I want an ood cupcake. wonder if it tastes like singing?

The Falling Machine (Society of Steam, book 1), by Andrew Mayer

published in May, 2011

Where I got it: received review copy from PYR

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Being “Victorian”, most steampunk I’ve read takes place in Victorian England, so it was very refreshing to read a steampunk that takes place in the United States. Even better, to a city I’ve visited before, New York City.  Mayer has taken the hustling, bustling, industrializing, Brooklyn-Bridge-just-starting New York City of 1880 and added superheroes, villains, automatons, and mad scientists.

Sarah Stanton, daughter of famed industrialist Alexander Stanton, lives a life of privilege. Although she isn’t supposed to leave her house without a chaperone, and she can’t vote or own property or choose her own husband, Sarah has been allowed to study under the inventor Dennis Darby.  Darby, leader of the international group of superheroes known as The Paragons, and creator of the walking, talking, thinking automaton known as Tom, is Sarah’s favorite person in the whole world.  When Sarah witnesses Darby’s violent death, his dying words regarding the future and her place in it become her responsibility.

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Apparently it’s China Mieville love fest week on LRR this week. You cool with that?  Cuz I’m cool with that.

This post will make much more sense if you read my other Embassytown posts, On Reading China Mieville and the Embassytown review.

it’s been a few days since I finished the book, and I’m having trouble getting it out of my mind. or getting my mind out of it?  Having a bit of an Alice in Wonderland moment, I’m not quite sure which way ’round that goes.  Anywhoo, I’ve got a bit more I’d like to get off my chest regarding Embassytown, Mieville, aliens, sound, and such.

Also there may be some spoilers here, so if you haven’t read the book, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After today I should have Embassytown out of my system, mostly.

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Embassytown, by China Mieville

published in May, 2011

Where I got it: the library

Why I read it: I is a Mieville fangirl.


This article got way too long, way too fast.  and then it got spoilery.  And then I edited the crap  out of it. So stay tuned for a super spoilery part 3 that talks more about Mieville’s worldbuiling and how truly imaginative this novel is, and possibly a part 4 as well. Embassytown is turning into that kind of book.  blame Mieville. it’s his fault.

In the far future, humanity has discovered a not-hyperspace and not-lightspeed style travel (I was temped to liken it to how the Spacing Guild pilots of Herbert’s Dune travel) and we’ve started colonizing both empty and alien planets.

Avice is the narrator of our story, and she is the first admit there is nothing special about her life.  A local Embassytown girl who makes good after her 15 minutes of fame, she leaves her home town to explore the world and returns years later, husband in tow, marriage in shambles.  Suddenly awkward, Avice is no longer native, but not foreigner either.

A colony of Bremen, on the planet Arieke, Embassytown in a ghetto on the edge of the Ariekei city. There have been occasional whispers of a revolution for independence, but the Embassytowners know they depend on the financial support of Bremen, and the bio-tech support of the Ariekei.  Embassytown exists on the sufferance of their Bremen governors and the hospitality of the Ariekei, known colloquially as The Hosts.

It’s not that The Hosts can’t lie per se, it’s that their language has no method for allusion, or metaphor, or reference in general.  Their methods of verbal communication refer to the literal only.  The humans believe that since they have figured out a way to communicate with the Hosts, that they understand them.  The entirety of Embassytown is an unforgiving metaphor of the risks of getting lost in translation.

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I’m about ⅔ of the way through China Mieville’s newest novel Embassytown, and although I truly haven’t a clue how this book will end, I feel the need to talk about the way this book is written, and Mieville’s writing style in general. That way, my review of Embassytown can actually focus on the wonderfulness that is the book, instead of the everything else.

Over the years I’ve heard fans and critics alike describe Mieville’s habit of using 50-cent and sometimes overly obscure words in his novels as a not-so-subtle “fuck you, ignorant uneducated peasant”. His word choice has caused many a reader (myself included) to wonder if some of these are real words used for  cultural effect, or made up words, also used for cultural effect. It’s narrative interruptus until a dictionary is found. But for once, I choose to be the optimist.  I choose to believe Mieville’s not-so-subtle message is one telling me that having a dictionary at hand will only add to my literary experience, not detract from it.  I choose to believe that he’s saying “don’t know what this word means? the only thing stopping you from grabbing a dictionary is you”.    Enticing me, inviting me, seducing me into learning,  into building my own confidence? China Mieville, you are one brilliant fucking bastard.
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We picked up Jeff Vandermeer’s  The Steampunk Bible the other day, and while I haven’t had a ton of time to look through it, I’ve drooled over the photos and read a handful of the guest essays.

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as you can see, It’s book pornalicious.

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Cat Valente? After reading your essay, I love you even MORE! “parents, talk to your children about steampunk . . “
(more photos after the jump) Read the rest of this entry »

Last night was an evening of the most wonderful trifecta currently known to mankind: dinner with friends, booze, and gaming.

we played a newish game called Alien frontiers.  The game was easy enough to learn, and in my case, easy enough to win.  It didn’t require insane amounts of strategy or card playing, it was mostly a dice rolling, steal from your neighbor, resource spending kind of thing. Actually, a really good gateway game for non-gamers.

don’t let the complicated looking board fool you, it’s a very simple game:

You gain points by landing colonies on the planet in the center of the board. Whoever controls the colony gets the bonus, and the card for the colony. Now, take a close look at the names of these colonies:

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.