the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for March 2012

Welcome to week four of what is becoming the most incredible (and holy shit, like largest) read along ever!  You see, we accidentally set a precedent here, that all future read alongs will attempt to reach. Ladies and gents, take a look, a gander, a peek, at what we have unleashed. It’s shaggy! And there’s more!

This week’s questions/discussion starters were supplied by Ashley, who posts on Mondays at SF Signal, and as she so perfectly put it, this is the section where a whole LOT happens.  You thought that torture scene back at Barsavi’s was when the shit got real? That was nothing.

it’s unavoidable, this is one hell of a spoiler ridden post, so if you have never read The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, or are participating in the read along but may be a little behind, you will want to skip this post until you have read up through Chapter 13 Orchids and Assassins.

That said, the rest of the everything is after the jump. If you are reading this in an RSS feed, I suggest you scroll really, really fast.

Other read along discussions:

Lynn’s Book Blog
Nashville Book Worm
Dark Cargo
Genkinahito’s Blog
Scruffy Fiction
Numbers Words and Ramblings
Tehthyan Books
Kaitharshayr’s Musings
Paperless Reading
Rose’s Thingamajig
Rememorandum
ReadBooks4Ever
Booky Pony
Beware of the Froggies
Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers
Books without any pictures
All I Am – A Redhead
A Blog thinger
My Awful Reviews
The Bente Way of Life
Travels Through Iest

newly added conversations!

The Hugo Endurance Project
Felix Pearce
John Ayliff
SF Signal

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This past Saturday, I had the wonderful experience of seeing Tobias Buckell at a local bookstore.  He spoke about his youth in the Caribbean, growing up on a boat (and having very little space for books!), being very in tune with weather and weather changes, and moving to the United States after a devastating series of hurricanes destroyed his home. Without a doubt, Toby Buckell is one of the most authentic people I have ever had the honor of meeting.

He talked a bit about his newest book, Arctic Rising, and how he serendipitously had perfect timing for a near-future thriller about climate change. A life time lover of all things James Bond, Arctic Rising has plenty of winks and nods to 007 fans. The book is getting rave reviews, you should check some of them out!

While I love the idea of techno-thrillers, I often find that I prefer that style of story on the screen. Luckily for book snobs like me, Buckell has his far-future scifi adventure space opera Xenowealth series, which started with Crystal Rain in 2006 and thanks to a Kickstarter project will soon have a fourth book for fans to devour.  I’ve got a copy of Crystal Rain waiting for me at the library, and after hearing Buckell talk about the series  I can’t wait to dive into it.  And he did graciously sign my copy of Robots:The New AI anthology. His short story, A Jar of Goodwill, was one of my favorite entries, it was just so wonderfully and unexpectedly strange, and I love that!

Beyond the name dropping and link splatting, I actually have a point to this post:  In the past year I have been ridiculously lucky in having opportunities to meet authors. And in some cases, I only had to drive down the road to the local bookstore.

if you are reading this blog, there’s a good chance you have these same opportunities.

Do you have family owned bookstores in your town? Ask to be put on their mailing list, or check out their website. chances are, they have authors come in a few times a year.  Libraries do this too, sign up for their newsletters. As do the big guys like Barnes and Noble. Even if it’s an author you’ve never read, but maybe only ever heard of, go.  that’s how I got completely hooked on Sarah Zettel.

do you live in a bookstore desert? Order everything off Amazon and haven’t stepped foot in a brick and mortar store since before your kids were born? Library only brings in authors of genres you aren’t interested in?  Authors like to travel too, see the sights, drive eight hours up the highway.  check out the websites of your favorite authors, see if they have a schedule of where they are going to be and when. Tweet them and ask them.

You’d be amazed at how many cool authors live not too far away from you.  You might have to drive an hour.  They probably drove six. It’s worth it. go.

still can’t make it happen?  well, there’s always Skype.

I only read books like this because it’s the only book I own!

Liar!!

I only read books like this because I secretly want to be a con-artist posing as a sneak thief!

Liar!!!

I only read books like this because they are scads of fucking fun!

BASTARD!!

Welcome one and all to week 3 of our Lies of Locke Lamora read along. Pranks have been pulled, lessons have been learned, and even more horrible things have happened. The Gentlemen Bastards are up to their eyeballs in it, and some fast thinking and faster running may be the only thing that can save them.  They may be richer and cleverer than their usual sort of opponent, but the Grey King and the Falconer are most certainly not their typical thuggish Camorri opponents.

As we’re beyond the halfway point of the book, there will be spoilers. Sorry, there isn’t much I can do about it at this point.  But, if you haven’t already, you should check out Scott Lynch’s livejournal for some behind the scenes goodies, and My Awful Reviews for some other surprise goodies. There. Does that make up for the spoilers? if not, all i got to say to that is Nice Bird, Asshole.

This week’s discussion starters were supplied by Bryce at My Awful Reviews, and cover Chapter 5 through the end of the interlude called the Half Crown war.

1. This section is where we finally get to sneak a peek at the magic in The Gentleman Bastards books. From what we read, what are your initial impressions of the magic Lynch is using? Is there any way that Locke and Company would be able to get around the Bondsmage’s powers?

2. Not a question, but an area for rampant speculation: If you want to take a stab at who you think the Grey King might be, feel free to do it here.

2.5 (since 2 wasn’t really a question) Anyone see the Nazca thing coming? Anyone? Do you think there are more crazy turns like this in store for the book? Would you like to speculate about them here? (yes, yes you would)

3. When Locke says “Nice bird, arsehole,” I lose it. EVERY TIME. And not just because I have the UK version of the book and the word arsehole is funnier than asshole. Have there been any other places in the books so far where you found yourself laughing out loud, or giggling like a crazy person on the subway?

4. By the end of this reading section, have your opinions changed about how clever the Bastards are? Do you still feel like they’re “cleverer than all the rest?” Or have they been decidedly outplayed by the Grey King and his Bondsmage?

5. I imagine that you’ve probably read ahead, since this was a huge cliffhanger of an ending for the “present” storyline, but I’ll ask this anyway: Where do you see the story going from here, now that the Grey King is thought to be dead?

6. What do you think of the characters Scott Lynch has given us so far? Are they believable? Real? Fleshed out? If not, what are they lacking?

7. Now that you’ve seen how clever Chains is about his “apprenticeships,” why do you think he’s doing all of this? Does he have an endgame in sight? Is there a goal he wants them to achieve, or is it something more emotional like revenge?

my answers are after the jump.

Leave your link in the comments so I can visit you and add you to the link list. :)

Check out all the other wonderful discussions:
Travels Through Iest
My Awful Reviews
Nashville Book Worm
Rose’s thingamajig
Lynn’s Book Blog
Rememorandum / Logan K Stewart
Scruffy Fiction
Genkinahito’s Blog
The Hugo Endurance Project
Booky Pony
John Ayliff
Numbers Words and Ramblings
Dark Cargo
Just Book Reading
All I Am – a Redhead
Paperless Reading
Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers
Kaitharshayr’s Musings
Beware of the Froggies
A Blog Thinger
realbooks4ever
Tethyan Books
The Bente way
SF Signal NEW!!
Books without Any Pictures NEW!!

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Jack of Ravens  (Kingdom of the Serpent, book 1), by Mark Chadbourn

published in 2012 by Pyr books

where I got it: received advanced readers copy from Pyr

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His memory shattered,  Jack Churchill (who goes by “Church”) wakes up in the middle of a fantasical battle.  Magically glowing sword in hand, he fells a giant, laughs at the nickname “Jack giantkiller”, and is sent by the local sorcerer on a spirit quest. Along with a few other villagers, Church learns he is a Brother of Dragons – a champion for existence. There must always be five Brothers and Sisters of the Dragon for existence to be victorious. Still, he can’t remember how he got there. All Jack remembers is that he is a man of our time, and he needs to get back to Ruth, the woman he loves.   When he is a approached by a few woman who promises him everything his heart desires, how could he say no?

(disclosure: This is my first Mark Chadbourn, but I believe it is linked to some other series/trilogies he has written? Let me know in the comments)

So starts Church’s adventures, whisked to the fey world, where all the creatures of our collective myths exist, and then to different time periods in Earth’s history, all on a mission as a Champion of Existence, all to stop the mysterious Army of Spiders.  His allies include Niamh, a Queen of the Fey courts;  Jerzy, a deformed and tortured jester; Will Swyfte, an infamous spy, and whatever mortals that can be awakened into their destinies of being brothers and sisters of the Dragon.

There is a war on, and it is between hope and despair, between existence and the end of all things.  What hope does Church have, if he can’t seem to ever catch up with the leader of the Army of Spiders, known only as The Libertarian? When you are fighting against despair itself, the enemy can and will be hiding anywhere. In this kind of fight, hope will only get you so far.

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Why don’t I watch more tv? Television is easy, available, and often populated by handsome people. Sometimes I wonder if I haven’t got a smidge of ye olde attention deficit disorder. I can curl up on the sofa reading and not move for three hours, but pay attention to a one hour tv show? Yikes.  Or maybe it’s all the insultingly stupid commercials.  there are some great TV shows out there, many available sans adverts on Netflix and other streaming services. So what the hell is my problem?  stay tuned for a drunken essay* on this.

If what we read has some connection to escapism and wish fulfillment, what the fuck is wrong with me? I crave ultra dark fiction, the darker, the stranger, and the more dangerous, the better. I’m not talking blood and guts or serial killers, I’m talking the dark, tragic and painful kind, full of betrayal and heartbreak.  If like me, you’ve been outed as someone who likes that type of thing, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  What the fuck is wrong with me? I certainly don’t want to live rough, bathe only when it rains, steal stuff, starve, live in a cemetery, climb drainpipes in the rain, sleep under bridges, fall off horses, have a price put on my head, get betrayed, get chased by unnatural creatures, chill out with hookers, get tortured, get papercuts, get paid to hurt someone else, get blackmailed by sorcerers, or run through the woods while barefoot. I’m as far as a person can get from being an antihero haunted by violence or regret.  I’m a slightly odd but very nice person with a cushy life, a steady job, and the best husband on the planet. I’m a total wuss who won’t even walk to the mailbox barefoot.  So again, WTF? or maybe what we read has nothing at all to do with wish fulfillment?

oh wait, I do have a regret: not taking more literature classes in high school and college.  Also, I played some really crappy cards the other nigh tin Ticket to Ride: India.  ok, two teensy silly regrets easily fixed by next semester’s community college course catalog and a board game rematch.
My overly cluttered apartment is driving me crazy. Time for some spring cleaning, which means some of these books have got to go. It looks like a library sorting room exploded in here. Me thinks there may be some give aways of gently read books happening here soon. stay tuned.

With the spiffy blog, i’m always feeling pressured to read new things, which means my favorite rarely get reread.  Other blogger buddies, how do you solve this?  Do you reread at your whim?

Speaking of wish fulfillment,  if you attended a scifi-fantasy convention, how likely would you be to attend a panel about blogging?

*you’ve been drinking, so it seems like the most amazing piece of writing in the world. And then you wake up and read it sober, and wonder what the fuck were you thinking? Those aren’t even sentences! Is that even English?

everyone loves a give away, right?

and everyone wants a chance to win something really really cool, right?

of course I’m right!

Good thing my very good friend Bryce over at My Awful Reviews (twitter @myawfulreviews) is giving away a copy of Thief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell. Click HERE for more info, and to sign up!

blurb ganked from Amazon:

Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city’s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? well, get your rear end over to My Awful Reviews and sign up for the giveaway, before he sends you some creepy Locke Lamora read along questions. :D

might brilliant cover art as well.

Robots: The Recent A.I., edited by Rich Horton and Sean Wallace

published in 2012 from Prime Books

where I got it: purchased

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For no good reason, I’ve never read much short fiction. I’ve had mixed luck with anthologies in the past, and that is a terrible reason to shy away from short fiction. Good thing I ran into Robots: The Recent A.I., an anthology so packed with my favorite authors that I felt like a kid in a candy store.  Authors such as Cory Doctorow, Cat Valente, Lavie Tidhar, Tim Pratt, Rachel Swirsky and more whipping up near and far future tales of an aspect of science fiction that is near and dear to my heart: artificial intelligence. How could I possibly say no? Most of these stores have already appeared elsewhere, but I had only ever heard of the Valente and Doctorow titles. Blazing big and bold on the cover is the word “robots”, but artificial intelligence is so much more that a metal machine that can have a conversation with you or play chess.

These are the stores about the new holy grail: creating an artificial intelligence that is so close to human we can’t tell the difference.   When an AI is so close to human you can’t tell, where is the line between ownership and freedom? Where is the line between loving someone and being programmed to love that person?  For a discussion about cold hard programming, where every decision comes down to a sharply defined one or zero, these are some mighty emotional and sensual stories. Some are told from a humans point of view, others are from the point of view of an AI. These are not your Papa Asimov’s robot stories, and it’s suddenly about more than playing chess.

It’s one thing to program a machine to believe that it is a human. It’s an entirely different thing to deal with the consequences. Frankenstein’s monster indeed.

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Hi Everyone, welcome to the second week of our The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch read along!  we’re starting to get into the meat of the story, and many games are afoot. People are starting to die, mob bosses are taking evasive actions, and even the Right People are running scared.  this section of our read along covers chapter three Imaginary Men through the interlude called The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, and this week’s questions were provided by the lovely nrlymrtl over at Dark Cargo.  Be sure to be  a friendly blogger this weekend and head over to Dark Cargo and comment on her Lies of Locke Lamora post. Lots of other fun stuff over at DC as well.

Some folks mentioned last week their editions didn’t have a map. here ya go, bigger version available at Lynch’s website. while you’re there, check out his live journal. . .  he’s been posting some nifty behind the scenes goodies as well!

Be warned, there be spoilers ahead.  Those wishing to avoid said spoilers should probably not click the “more” button below, as my answers and some other fun stuff is below the jump.  Leave your link in the comments or e-mail or tweet it to me, and I’ll add you to the link list below.

just discovering this read along and want to get involved? no problem! just comment on this post that you want to be added to the sooper seekrit mailing list, and it shall be done. ;)

on twitter?  use #lynchmob.   but not @lynchmob.  that’s someone else.

here are this week’s discussion questions:

1) Do you think Locke can pull off his scheme of playing a Midnighter who is working with Don Salvara to capture the Thorn of Camorr? I mean, he is now playing two roles in this game – and thank goodness for that costume room the Gentlemen Bastards have!

2) Are you digging the detail the author has put into the alcoholic drinks in this story?

3) Who is this mysterious lady Gentlemen Bastard Sabetha and what does she mean to Locke?

4) Are you as creeped out over the use of Wraithstone to create Gentled animals as I am?

5) I got a kick out of child Locke’s first meeting with Capa Barsavi and his daughter Nazca, which was shortly followed up in the story by Barsavi granting adult Locke permission to court his daughter! Where do you think that will lead? Can you see these two together?

6) Capa Barsavi is freaked out over rumors of The Gray King and, in fact, us readers are privy to a gruesome torture scene. The Gray King is knocking garristas off left and right. What do you think that means?

7) In the Interlude: The Boy Who Cried for a Corpse, we learn that Father Chains owes an alchemist a favor, and that favor is a fresh corpse. He sets the boys to figuring out how to provide one, and they can’t ‘create’ the corpse themselves. How did you like Locke’s solution to this conundrum?

Make sure you visit these other wonderful conversations:
Nashville Bookworm
Rose’s Thingamajig
Dark Cargo
Tethyan Books
Kaitharshayr’s Musings
Paperless Reading
Scruffy Fiction
All I Am: A Redhead
Lynn’s Book Blog
Numbers, Words and Ramblings
Booky Pony
Books Without Any Pictures
Just Book Reading
My Awful Reviews
Coffee Cookies and Chili Peppers
Beware of the Froggies
Lisa Pizza / A Blog thinger
Realbooks4Ever
Genkinahito’s
Felix Pearce
the Hugo Endurance Project
The Bente Way of Life
SF Signal

NEW!!!

Updates to the Theory of Everything

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Silently_and_Very_Fast_by_Catherynne_M_Valente-200x281Silently and Very Fast, by Catherynne Valente

Limited edition from Subterranean Press, also printed in Robots: the New AI anthology from Prime Books.

Published in 2012

where I got it: purchased new

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It’s not the questions in Cat Valente’s latest novella that are unique,  it is the way she goes about answering them. Can a machine love? can a machine feel fear or pain or curiosity?  What if it has been programmed to respond to love, to shy away from large things, to seek out new data? Is that emotion or programming?   When all that matters the result, why would a different path matter?

Designed first as the prime computer of a large family home, and only later as a personal interface, Elefsis had always been programmed to observe and learn how to best serve her operators. But how to learn?  By asking.  Her operators have recently been sheltered teenagers, and they have taught her what they can about their innocent corners of the world, including the fairy tales old earth was raised on. Elefsis mistakenly believes that all stories have happy endings.

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Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell

Published in 2012

Where I got it: borrowed

 

 

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Anika Duncan was just doing her job.  As an airship pilot for the United Nations Polar Guard, her job is to watch the waters. For drugs, human trafficking, and radioactive material. In the not too far future, the ice has started to melt, the Northwest Passage has opened, and floating bergs and barges all the up on the pole act as a loosely conglomerated not-country called Thule.

On a routine mission Anika’s instruments pick up something they shouldn’t. And then her airship is fired on, killing her co-pilot.  At first, the government goes all out to find her attackers and find out what they were smuggling, but before long the terrorists disappear and she’s told there was absolutely nothing on their ship.  But she knows what she saw on her instruments.  On the run and with few friends to help her, Anika heads north in hopes of learning what was on the ship and who her true friends are.

Once the action starts in this eco-thriller, it never stops.  Imagine a Bond movie where Bond and the beautiful ass-kicking Bond girl got melded into one character, and you’d have Anika Duncan. As a pilot with the UNPG, she can fly any airship and shoot any gun. She never backs down, and has no idea what she’s gotten herself into.  From the islands of Northern Canada and all points north, whoever thought so much could happen in the Arctic Circle?

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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.