the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Tobias Buckell’ Category

I do not think it is possible to cram any more cool bookish stuff into one day.  This past Saturday, I started my day at BookBug bookstore, for my friend Andy’s Type-In. Andy collects manual typewriters, at last count he has over twenty.  A Type-In is where a bunch of type writer aficionados bring their babies somewhere and show ‘em off. And then there’s me, walking around typing up postcards and asking “how do I do an exclamation point? I made a mistake! how do I backspace?”   I was a <sarcasm>genius</sarcasm> I forgot my really cool postcards at home. Luckily, Andy brought some, and his had cool Type-In logos and bookstore images on them!  I better tell my parents to watch their mail box.

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A couple of hours later, I drove five minutes down the road to Kazoo Books for the Jim C. Hines and Tobias Buckell book signing!  I wish I’d gotten a photo of the table covered in Toby and Jim’s books, it was a beautiful display (and pretty empty a few hours later).

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Jim and Toby have known each other since the beginning of their careers, it was wonderful to just listen to them talk about the challenges and pressures they faced as their careers took off, different types of projects they’ve worked on and are working on, adventures in bookstore signings,  how “being an author as a single guy” is pretty different from “being an author as a Dad”, among other things. There was lots of laughing and fist bumping happening.   It was a wonderful afternoon. Toby signed my copy of Hurricane Fever, and since I already have signed copies of Jim’s  books, I had him sign a paperback of Libriomancer for me to use as as a give away! He even put a sooper seekrit message in it!

Woohoo, Give Away!

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hurrican feverHurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell

published July 2014

where I got it: purchased new

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Imagine the action, intrigue and espionage of your favorite James Bond thriller, now throw in fatal hurricanes and a lot of emotional investment. If that sounds good (of course it does!), you’ll get a kick out of Tobias Buckell’s newest near future eco-thriller, Hurricane Fever. This is a sequel to Buckell’s Arctic Rising, but it can easily be read as a stand alone. In the near future, much of the Arctic ice has melted, the seas have risen, low islands have been completely submerged taking people’s homes with them, and hurricane season means a deadly storm every week. Oh, and did I mention Hurricane Fever takes place entirely in the Carribean, where these deadly hurricanes tend to land?

Roo Jones is retired from the Caribbean Intelligence Agency, or at least, he’s convinced himself he’s retired.  He’s living the easy life in the Virgin Islands, raising his nephew Delroy, working on his boat, trying to forget everything he’s been through.  When an acquaintance mails Roo a USB drive filled with what looks like useless statistics, Roo knows two things: he never really retired from the CIA, and his old friend Zee is dead.

Once the action starts in Hurricane Fever, it never lets up. Roo barely has time to access the data on the drive before a mysterious woman claiming to be Zee’s sister shows up, and Delroy is killed. And that scene with Delroy? When the “simplicity” of his death is “explained”? It’s amazing how a short paragraph, how a few words made of letters and ink on paper can shatter a reader like that. This was one of those paragraphs, and at that moment, I gave myself to Buckell for the long haul. Roo was angry enough, and I’d just joined up to help him exact revenge. Zee knew his life was in danger, Zee was an adult, he knew what he was getting into. But to kill a teenager, because you couldn’t be bothered to check if it was the right person? Oh yes, I was as angry as Roo, and ready to cheer him on every step of the way towards revenge.

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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.

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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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.