the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for February 2013

WeeFreeMenTheBeginningHi Everyone!

Welcome to the second part of our Wee Free Men Read Along!

If you’re enjoying Wee Free Men (and really, how can you not be enjoying this book?), you should join us for a read along for the next book in the Tiffany Aching series, A Hat Full of Sky! I can’t believe we’re nearly done with Wee Free Men, so here’s the schedule for A Hat Full of Sky:

Part 1: Hosted by Little Red Reviewer Chapters 1-3, 109 pages, 3/13/13
Part 2: Hosted by Dab of Darkness Chapters 4-6, 88 pages, 3/20/13
Part 3: Hosted by Little Red Reviewer Chapters 7-9, 94 pages, 3/27/13
Part 4: Hosted by Dab of Darkness Chapters 10-end, 107 pages, 4/3/13

While you’re mulling over that, here’s this week’s discussion questions for Wee Free Men, my answers after the jump:

1.  Do you think Tiffany will be able to hold up her end of the bargain that she made with the Kelda?

2.Do you think Tiffany and Fion will ever be friends?

3. What do you think of the Queen’s world? How does this interpretation of Fairyland mesh with other interpretations you’ve run into in other books?

4. What do you think of Roland? Will he be a help to Tiffany or a hindrance?

5. I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to run into a Drome!

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Jagganath-ebook-coverJagannath, by Karin Tidbeck

published in 2012

where I got it: the library

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This has been a tough review to write. I finished reading Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath last week, and instead of jotting down notes for a review, or trying to come up with some witty blurbable phrase, all I’ve done is pick the book up again and again, reread a few of the short stories, and whisper “Wow”, over and over again.

Just, wow.

I am floored, I am awed, my faith in anything, in everything, has been restored.

Make sure you read Jagannath.

Jagannath is a skinny unassuming little thing. It’s the wallflower of the new shelf at the library, no fancy cosmetics or political slants or controversial stories. It doesn’t scream “read me with alluring or sexy cover art.  And it doesn’t scream “read me” after you open it, either. Sometimes you don’t want a book to scream at you, because it’s better when the book caresses you instead,  rewards you for finding it, for choosing the wallflower.  With a quiet, confident voice, the stories in Jagannath whisper your name, drawing you in closer and nearer, because it has a secret to tell you, and only you.

Using simple language, Tidbeck takes you to other worlds, places that are beautiful and frightening and cold.  These aren’t horror stories, but they are tilted at just enough of an angle that it’s easy to lose your footing. Reading them felt like a one way mirror –  I was on the  mirror side, but someone else, someone in the story, was watching me from the other side.

You don’t even need to read the rest of this rambling review, just go get the book. You will be far more satisfied with reading Jagannath than with reading my review of its contents.

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earlier today, my husband randomly asks me “Do you think people could really live with artificial intelligence? Not AI in computers, but real live artificial intelligence?”

So many angles of this question to tackle.  I thought of the movie AI Artificial Intelligence (one of my favorite movies, by the way). I thought of Hal9000. I thought of Data from Star Trek. I’m in the middle of reading Use of Weapons by Iain Banks, so I thought of that, the drones, the Minds.  I thought of Siri. I thought of Madeline Ashby, Ted Chiang,  and every book I’ve ever read where someone began to care for an AI and something went sour.

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And notice he didn’t say “will we”, but “could we”, which got me thinking about how people react when facing a very large change in their life that they have no control over.  What about people who are very religious? Do AIs have souls? will it matter? What about the Amish? Will AIs only be for rich people, or will they be as cheap and available as a pay-as-you go cell phone?  If AIs became commonplace, would people have the choice to interact with them or not?

“Sure”, I responded. “It’ll be just like smartphones. All the kids raised with them will think it’s second nature, but us grown ups will have a tough time getting used to it.”

That was a fairly pedestrian answer.

So now it’s your turn:

Do you think people could really live with artificial intelligence? Not AI in computers, but real live artificial intelligence?

emoticonThe Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

published in 2012

where I got it: received review copy from the author (Thanks!!)

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Guy Hasson is an all around imaginative man. He lives and works in Israel, publishes short fiction in Hebrew, English (and ocassionally Spanish and German), writes plays and short films.  This is the second collection of stories I’ve read by him. Many of his stories have a journalistic feel to them, where the characters attempt (sometimes successfully, but mostly not) to investigate something in a non-biased way.  His collection Secret Thoughts was about how people deal with naturally ocurring telepathy, and his newest collection, The Emoticon Generation, is about the intersection of people and technology. I should have expected it would be weirder and more dangerous than the intersection of people and telepathy!

What makes this new collection so compelling is that with today’s technology we’re only a few years away from many of these stories becoming non-fiction.  A new texting language for teens, hacking into CCTV systems, brain scans that offer secrets of how minds words, we’re on the cusp of much of this.  These are character driven stories, and it’s  nice to see characters who demand to know what’s happening and take steps to find out, instead of passively allowing things to happen to them.  The truth might set us free, but sometimes it shatters us first.

Hasson has a nice handful of stories for free on his website, and I’ve linked below the ones in this collection that are available.  His writing in subtly complex, where at first the story appears simple, but by the time you get to the end of it, you realize this is a tale that will stick with you for a long time.  Two of the stories in The Emoticon Generation that hit me in that way were The Assassination and Hatchling. Here are my thoughts on those two stories and a few others:

The Assassination – Aryeh Shamgar is a national hero. Schoolchildren learn about him, documentaries have been made about him. Nearing the end of his life, Shamgar is sick of answering the same questions over and over and over again about his role in the war. He assassinated the right person and the right time and turned the tide of events, he was the perfect soldier. Why should the specific reasons behind his orders matter?  A new technology allows scientists to record and listen to audio of events that occurred many decades ago. Shamgar is about to hear the real reason he’s a national hero.  To tell you anymore would ruin the twist.  You think this is a war story, but it’s not, not at all.

Hatchling – Glynis Hatch wants only one thing for her birthday – to know who her father is. Her mother refuses to answer her questions, her homeschooling tutor refuses to answer her questions.  Was her father a criminal? Was he abusive? What could possibly be so bad that no one will tell her anything? Glynis will just have to find the answers herself, by eavesdropping, hacking into publicCams, and doing everything possible.  As the secrets  becoming larger and more complex, I began to really feel for Glynis, to fear for her. Something very dark is happening here, and it can’t end well. This was a very powerful story for me; I didn’t want Glynis to get hurt, she’s never done anything wrong, why can’t her happy life just continue?  I had my guesses as to who and what she was, but Hasson takes the story in a refreshingly different direction, and gives it a terrifying shocker of an ending.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for Robert Jackson Bennett’s AMERICAN ELSEWHERE. And our winner is. . .

Chris (“Salt-Man Z”)

 

Congrats Chris!  I’ll be contacting you shortly, so watch you e-mail/twitter.  You are gonna love this book!

Welcome to the Wee Free Men readalong! Yes, we are reading Terry Pratchett and giggling and snorting various beverages out our noses! (the vanilla shake really hurt).

and it’s not too late to join the fun! Check out the reading schedule and more info over at Dab of Darkness, my co-host for a month of fun.  if you’re joining us for the fun, please leave a link to your post in the comments.

this week’s discussion questions were provided by nrlymrtl of Dab of Darkness. Go check out her blog, she’s got a growing collection of excellent book reviews, plus lots of read along goodness which is mighty tempting as well.

Anyways, onto the questions! my answers are after the “read more”.

1) Since I am a nosy person, I want to know if this is your first Terry Pratchett book for you? Do you enjoy the humor and writing style so far?

2) We’ve been introduced to Tiffany Aching’s world of shepherding and cheese making and her family. What about this quaint setting has caught your eye?

3) Ah, the Nac Mac Feegles! Can you understand their speech? Who or what do you think the kelda is?

4) Do you see a future for Tiffany at a witches’ school? Or do you think Ms. Tick will take on a mentor’s role?

5) Wentworth has gone missing and there is a Queen involved. What do think she wants with him? If this is a reread, then how do you like having one magical world (the Queen’s) nestled within the Discworld universe (Tiffany’s world)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Orbit Books, I have an extra copy of Robert Jackson Bennett’s supernatural thriller (and mind blowing masterpiece)  AMERICAN ELSEWHERE.

I absolutely loved AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, you can read my review here, and you can read an excerpt from the book over here at Orbit.

Rules for the give away:

1. to enter, comment on this post.  when you sign in to comment, make sure you leave me your e-mail address, or a twitter, or some other way to get a hold of you.

2. give away is open to all residents of planet Earth. Orbit was kind enough to send me 2 copies of this book, the least I can do is pay for some shipping someone else can enjoy this amazing novel.

3. give away closes at midnight, eastern time, on Tuesday February 19th, and the winner will be announced and contacted shortly afterwards.

4. be warned.  this book will completely blow your mind.  I am not responsible if you get absolutely no sleep while you are reading this book, are late to work, or generally ignore your family while reading.

Bennet_AmericanElsewhere_TP


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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.