the Little Red Reviewer

I owe you a review, and I’m soon to owe you lots of reviews!

Here’s the latest that I’ve finished reading, what I am reading, and what I want to read!

 

I recently finished reading The Guns Above, by Robyn Bennis.  Fun read, tons of snarky and sarcastic dialog, great characters.  Fans of Bennis’s work are already excited for the sequel!

 

and speaking of sequels. . .

here’s what I am reading right now:

Noumenon Infinity is Lostetter’s 2nd Noumenon book.  My dad liked the first book so much we’re reading the second one together!  I’m about 150 pages in so far, and while the story is completely different from the first book in the series, I’m enjoying myself. There are two AIs who don’t know that each other exist, and I am hoping that they’ll meet each other before the book ends. These are two AIs who have always been singular and been completely alone.  if they meet each other, it will be a little like a first contact story, but not. and then they won’t have to be alone anymore. You can read my review of the first book, Noumenon, here.

 

The Traitor Baru Cormorant isn’t a sequel, but it has one that will be out at the end of October.  When Traitor Baru Cormorant came out, reading this book just about killed me.  Every page is gorgeous writing, i want to protect these characters from pain but i know nothing I do will change anything, because as a reader, I am powerless.  I need to know what happens, so I can go into the sequel with fresh wounds, you know?

 

 

And as far as Want To Read,

 

 

because who doesn’t want to read a Murderbot book?  Getting to read this book will be my reward for writing the review for The Guns Above.  That 2nd Murderbot book had quite the effect on me, I’m interested to see what this book does to me.

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The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick

published in 1964

where I got it: purchased used

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You trust your government right?  Ok, maybe not 100%, but at least when it comes to defense of the nation and keeping our citizens safe, you trust the head honchos, right?

 

Nicholas St James and his entire community follow that trust.  They remember being shuffled into underground shelters when the bombs fell.  They remember being told that it would just be until it was safe to come back to the surface, two years at most.  Nick and his family and his community listen to the radio broadcasts, they watch Talbot Yancy speak on TV, they know if they just wait a little longer, that it will be safe to go above ground, and that one day soon their children will see a sunrise and a sunset.  One day the war will be over and the citizens of the tanks will be able to stop building and repairing the leadies who fight for the people’s freedom every day. Without trust, there would be chaos and death. They’ve been in these damn tunnels for thirteen years.

 

Meanwhile, Joseph Adams lives on his estate in California with a phalanx of leadies who are mostly used as house servants and security guards. On a daily basis he flies to his job in New York, where he works as a Yanceman – writing the speeches that will be fed into Talbot Yancy. Who is a robot bolted to an oak desk. Adams and his peers literally write “fake news”.  So much so that fake documentaries were even made that all children watch in school, and most adults have nearly memorized, documentaries that convince the people in the shelters that the government did what they did to protect their own people from harm. The Yancemen take their orders from Stanton Brose, who effectively rules as a feared regent. In Brose’s attempts to rule forever, he has had multiple parts of his body replaced with artificial organs, known as artiforgs. There may be half a dozen artificial hearts or artificial livers in existence, but according to Brose, they are all reserved for his use.

 

Oh, there was a war all right, between West Dem and Pac Peop. And there were bombs that fell. Most of the actual fighting was done by leadies.  The American government shoved as many people as they could into underground shelters, and those who survived above ground lived our their sterile lives in park like surroundings, with leadies to do their bidding. It’s so beautiful and empty up here, no dirty workers anywhere. Maybe we’ll wait just a few more years to bring the people from the shelters up, yeah? Because it’s just so nice up here, with only our friends up here.  Those filthy people who came up on their own? Oh, they are housed in prison-like apartment complexes, where they have a roof over their head, food, their medical needs are seen to, they’re even given jobs!

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Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust

published around 1990

where I got it: purchased used

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After Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, I needed a unicorn chaser. And by that, I mean I needed a comfort read. Something fun, fast, with witty dialog, a plot that wouldn’t fry my brain, and some sexy romantic scenes wouldn’t hurt either.  You know what bookshelf never lets me down? My Steven Brust bookshelf. As my finger went over the spines of Vlad Taltos paperbacks, I hit on a paperback that looked like it didn’t fit: Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille. Thinking I was going to be reading a fantasy novel, somehow I’d landed on straight up futuristic science fiction!   Nice!

 

This little paperback is everything I was looking for in a happy unicorn chaser comfort read: it was a fast read full of snarky and witty dialog, the plot is a slow burn that was distracting enough to keep me from remembering all those scenes in The Wasp Factory,  there was some satisfying (although mostly off-page) sex scenes, much of the book was strange to the point of loopy, and overall it was super fun.

 

When you’re inside Cowboy Feng’s, you’re always in the same place. It’s the outside that changes all the time.  You see, nearly TARDIS like, this bar jumps around the galaxy. Always landing on an populated planet, and always jumping just before a nuclear bomb or other disaster hits the block, the trick is to be inside the bar when it jumps. Cowboy Feng’s serves some excellent food, and they have an excellent house Irish band, so any customers (or musicians) who happen to be in the restaurant when it jumps are along for the ride too.  If a space-jumping restaurant doesn’t sound like your thing, read this just for the heavenly food and meal descriptions!

 

Libby the bartender and Fred the de facto manager have been with Feng’s for darn near forever. Along the way, they picked up Rich and Eve. One day, as the restaurant was getting ready to jump, the members of an Irish Band where there too.  Billy, Tom, Rose, and Jamie became the house band that night. Even if they wanted to go home, they have no idea how to do that.

 

The story is told from Billy’s point of view, and starts just as the restaurant lands at a new location. Everyone gets settled, they scout out the neighborhood,  open the bar for business, meet some locals, and the musicians even rent an apartment a few blocks away. And then a murder happens in the bar and the police don’t seem to care.  By the way, this is the kind of story in which murders don’t randomly happen in random bars, and the kind of book in which it sure looks suspicious that the cops don’t seem to care. Seems even more suspicious that the poor sap who got killed bears a striking resemblance to Billy.

 

Traditional  Irish music, the best food in the galaxy,  a murder mystery, and the possible destruction of humanity. Who could ask for anything more?

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The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

published in 1984

where I got it: purchased used

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You’ve read some Iain M. Banks then?  Some Culture novels? The “.M” means you’re reading his science fiction.  Without that middle initial, you’re holding a contemporary fiction novel in your hands.

 

The Wasp Factory may not be science fiction (or anything even approaching a Culture novel), but oh is it so very Iain Banks.  He throws you in the deep end on page one, leaves you on your own to figure out the local slang terms, populates the book with characters who are as confident in their actions as they are secretive about their motives, and then flips everything inside out for the climactic reveal.  Yup, this is definitely a Banks novel!

 

At less than two hundred pages,  you’d think this book would be a fast read. And it is, sort of. It’s easy to read, the vocabulary isn’t difficult, and I have no complaints on the pacing.  But it is not an easy book to read. The Wasp Factory is solid violence, nastiness, sociopathic tendencies, animal abuse, and cold blooded murder.

 

This is a novel in which a child commits premeditated murder three times before the age of eleven, and doesn’t feel the slightest remorse.

 

Oh, you’re thinking grimark? I think Frank Cauldhame could give even Jorg a run for his money.  That is not a compliment. If A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies had an ultraviolent psychopathic younger brother they didn’t want anyone to know about, The Wasp Factory is that brother.

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As of the writing of this blog post, The Apex Publications “Do Not Go Quietly” Kickstarter is just shy of 70% funded, with 15 days to go.  Jason and Lesley have let me annoy them with e-mails and tweets and Q&A’s.  I have to admit, I am fascinated not only by this particular kickstarter project, but by the behind the scenes of crowdfunding in general.  This is the fourth (fifth? I’ve lost count) Kickstarter that Apex has done, so crowdfunding projects must be fun!

 

Well past the 50% funded mark, the DNGQ project is now open to unsolicited submissions, through Sept 19th. They are looking for stories of Resistance. Of Revolution. Of standing up and demanding to have your space, your say, your right to be. Even if it means pissing people off.

 

Looking for some inspirational music? On the DNGQ blog is a Playlist of Resistance with more suggestions and music links in the comments.

 

But you came here to hear what Jason and Lesley have to say about resistance, voting, this anthology, and kickstarter, right?   Onward!

 

Andrea:  You’ve got voting information on the Do Not Go Quietly Blog. Um, why?
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Jason: Lesley and I aren’t violent people. We certainly appreciate the sentiment behind punching neo-Nazis, but we don’t want to endorse any action that would see someone be harmed (particularly those who aren’t neo-Nazis). The simplest and most pain free way to resist in a democracy is to vote the assholes out. We want you to use your power to cast a ballot for those who are not racist, who does not suffer xenophobia, and discriminates against religion.
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Lesley: Jason’s right. The best way to fight back and to resist is to be knowledgeable of what is going on in politics. So many people seem to feel like their vote doesn’t matter, like they can’t make a change by going, but that isn’t true. I would encourage everyone to pay attention. Know who your representatives are and what they stand for. If they don’t represent your beliefs or are actively trying to take away the rights of people they’re supposed to be representing, VOTE THEM OUT. The fastest way to get the attention of people in power is to take that power away when they abuse it.
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Andrea: I am LOVING this cover art by Marcela Bolívar! What else can you tell us about her? Will she be creating any more artwork for this project?


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Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

available Aug 21 in US, Aug 23 in UK

where I got it:  Received ARC from Jo Fletcher Books

This review is part of a BlogBlast hosted by Jo Fletcher Books.  Find Foundryside reviews and more by searching on twitter with:

#Foundryside

@JoFletcherBooks

@robertjbennett

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Robert Jackson Bennett books are always hard for me to describe. I end up just squeeing about “and then this happened, and there’s this character who is so cool, and don’t let me forget to tell you about this thing that happened, and you are gonna love this one scene so much, and I didn’t expect that other thing to be laugh out loud funny but it was, and I wanna know more about  . . .” My mind is going faster than my mouth, and I’m so busy trying to list everything that’s awesome that I can’t even finish a sentence or coherently describe what it is that makes his books so remarkable.

 

But I think I finally figured it out: Bennett connects all the dots. He takes what could have been a narrowly focused story, and some characters who are just trying to live their lives and do their thing, and he puts them in a world that has history and politics, and consequences.  He writes characters who deal with the same crap I deal with, they are living through the same frustrating stuff that I read about in the news every day: the cost of cheap goods, capitalism, colonialism, PTSD, marginalism, the difference between the haves and the have nots, etc.  His characters and their frustrations are relatable, I guess is what I’m trying to say. I get their motivations, because in their place, I’d probably do the same thing and have the same frustrations.

 

If you’ve ever read a Robert Jackson Bennett book before, you know the characters are going to be top notch and the plot is going to be the perfect balance of tightly paced and non-stop.  And if this is going to be your first Robert Jackson Bennett? You are in for a treat, as his work just keeps getting better and better. Foundryside is part N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, part Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora,  and part the Wachowski brother’s The Matrix.

 

The lyrics to “broken” by Lovely the Band feel very Foundryside #NotASpoiler

I was thrilled to see that Foundryside is the first of the Founders Trilogy, because while the novel functions perfectly well as a self contained story, there is so much more I want to know about Gregor, about Berenice, and I’m sure Gregor’s mother has a rivetingly creepy backstory.  And don’t even get me started on how much I want to know about Clef’s backstory! And I really hope Sancia is finally able to take a bath without it literally killing her.

 

I’m gonna skip all the How Fun The Story Was, and the How Much I Loved the Characters (omg, CLEF!!!), and skip right to the thing in Foundryside that completely blew my mind wide open: The magic system.  And not only the magic system, but the implications of how this  magic system works.

 

Lemme explain as best I can without spoiling anything. Get comfy, because this is gonna take a while. But first: do you like science? Do you like engineering?  (are you wondering why I am asking science-fictiony STEM-y questions in a fantasy novel review?) If you answered yes, you are gonna love this!

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You like anthologies of all original fiction, yes?

You think Kickstarter is cool, Yes?

Oh, are you going to love this!

My most excellent friends at Apex Book Company, Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner, have launched their Kickstarter for a new anthology of original fiction about resistance and revolution. Called “Do Not Go Quietly”, the anthology is already nearly 50% funded!

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This is an all or nothing deal, which means when the funding is reached, the anthology happens with a table of contents that includes Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, Rebecca Roanhorse, Sheree Renee Thomas, A. Merc Rustad, Maurice Broaddus, Cassandra Khaw, Laird Barron, Karin Lowachee, Rich Larson, Fran Wilde, and more.  For those of you keeping count,  I’ve just listed authors who have won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, Prix Aurora, Mythopeoic, Andre Norton,  and Shirley Jackson awards, and I’ve not even gotten through the entire Table of Contents yet.

 

Click here to visit the Do Not Go Quietly Kickstarter page to learn more about the project and all the amazing authors who are involved so far. Even if you have no intention of supporting this project, click on the link anyways, just to watch the kick ass video.

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Lesley and Jason were kind enough to take me behind the scenes of this project, and if I’m really lucky, they’ll let me ask them another set of questions! What questions do you have?  Leave ’em in the comments, maybe you’ll see the answer posted later this month!

Not interested in kickstarter, but interested in some of the essays that are being published around this anthology? No problem, there is a Do Not Go Quietly Blog with everything you’re looking for, including information on voting.

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Andrea: What made you decide to create this anthology? I imagine it took a while to get this group of authors together, explain to them what you were doing. Had you already been working on this for a while before you started the Kickstarter?

Lesley: Jason and I have known that we wanted to edit another anthology together, but coming up with just the right theme took a while. After the last presidential election we saw a lot of people we care about feeling scared and unsure about the world around them. Things … have not gotten better since then. That’s where the initial inspiration for Do Not Go Quietly came from. We want to put together an anthology that will energize people, that will lift them up and encourage them to stand up for their rights and fight back against those trying to take them away.

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Coming up with the list of contributors who we would solicit stories from wasn’t as hard as you might think! Separately, Jason and I made lists of authors we felt would be a good fit – authors we know are not only amazing writers, but who we felt would have a unique voice and standpoint on the theme. Resistance, revolution. This isn’t a single-sided issue. There are a lot things going on not only here in the United States, but around the world. We aren’t looking to put together an anthology that only represents one issue or one viewpoint. Resistance is complex and nuanced, and we’re hoping that once the anthology is complete, it will be represent that complexity.

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So we started with two lists and then put them together so we had one GIGANTIC list of fantastic writers we would love to have on board. From there we had to narrow it down, try to put together a mix that was diverse in viewpoints and voice, but that would fit well together to become a cohesive whole. After that, we sent out invites, explaining the project. Not everyone we approached said yes, but I’m incredibly proud of the list of contributors we have onboard for the project.

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Andrea: What are some of the stretch goals in the kickstarter? I heard a rumor that there are . . . patches?

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Lesley: There are patches! But you don’t have to wait for the stretch goals to get one! We’re sending out “I Will Not Go Quietly” patches to every backer who backs at the $15 trade paperback level and above! I know, I’m awfully excited about patches, but I’m a Girl Scout leader! Patches go along with a lot of things that I do. So that was one of the very first things that I wanted to make sure we got when coming up with goodies to pack into the reward tiers.

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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.
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