the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for May 2014

I’m working to get through all the Dune books this year. Since I know the first book by heart, I started with Dune Messiah.

 

children-of-dune-frank-herbet-3Children of Dune, by Frank Herbert

published in 1976

where I got it: have owned forever. My paperback is falling apart. Heh heh, the cover art says “The Climax of the Dune Trilogy“.

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Children of Dune is the third book in Frank Herberts Dune saga. Throughout Dune and Dune Messiah, we saw a build up of court politics, religious fervor,  ythology, and genetic manipulation. All of this and more comes to a boiling point in Children of Dune. This review has taken me about a week to write. I’ve some history with this series, I came to it at a very impressionable age and it was my biggest step towards my love of science fiction. So it is very hard for me to distill fifteen years of experiencing this particular novel into a thousand words.

It’s been less than ten years since a blinded Paul Muad-Dib walked into the desert without water or stillsuit.  His sister Alia has sat as regent while the Empire waits for his nine year old twin children, Leto II and Ghanima to come of age. Arrakis has become the capitol of the Empire, and modernity has come to Arrakeen. Young Fremen no longer learn stillsuit discipline, they have no use for the desert traditions of their parents. Liet Kynes’ 50 generation plan is speedily coming to fruition – the desert is greening. Homes are built without strict water seals, grasses are planted to hold the shifting dunes in place, trees are planted anywhere and everywhere. The planet is changing an the traditional tribes are  horrified.

 

Ecological changes aside, Alia is no normal regent, and her niece and nephew are not normal children. Their dying mother opted for a spice overdose to save the lives of her children, and Leto II and Ghanima came to consciousness while still in the womb.  Steeped in the spice for their entire life, neither child is a singular being, but instead the multitude of all the memories, all the lives of their descendents who live in the background of their consciousness. Not multiple personalities per se, but if they let their guard down, they could be possessed by the powerful voices within.  Alia, Leto, and Ghanima all yearn for the prescience that Paul experienced, but to do so they would have to risk the spice trance that would only empower their other memories. Alia, already teetering on the edge of possession can’t risk allowing the voices in the head to become any louder.

 

My heart breaks for Alia her every time I read this book. Demonized as a child, seen as an abomination for something she had no control over, Alia has no one to turn to, no one she can talk to. Everywhere she turns she is judged and looked down upon. Everywhere that is, but her inner voices. And one voice is so soothing, so seductive. One voice promises to quiet all the other warring voices, if only she takes his very helpful advice from time to time.

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Portal Cake (with recipe!), Klava, Stackfalter Sturton cheese, Romulan Ale* and more.  Have you got a favorite food or drink from a scifi or fantasy?  Check out the latest Mind Meld on SFSignal on our avorite science fiction foods and drinks to see who suggested which!

*Who provided the answer Romulan Ale? Vic Mignogna. The name might not ring a bell, but I bet you know who he is:

He’s the voice of Edward Elric. I spent about five years being more than a little obsessed with this manga and the first anime series.  Would still love to crossplay Edward sometime.

Edward.Elric.full.580085

 

 

He plays Capt Kirk on Star Trek Continues. This project is just buckets of fun.

 

star trek continues

 

 

I muppet flailed when he e-mailed me back.

 

Shhhhh!!!  No one tell John at SFSignal that sometimes I invite people to MindMeld that I am totally fangirl crushing on.

 

wild and wishful KontisWild and Wishful, Dark and Dreaming, by Alethea Kontis

published Oct 2013

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Alliteration Ink!)

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Before last week, I’d only read a few Alethea Kontis stories, mostly what had been published in Apex Magazine. But I’d like what I’d read, and was interested in reading more. Kontis is a writer known for everything from fairy tale retellings, to secret history, to horror stories.  She doesn’t let genre boundaries limit what she writes, and many of these stories were inspired by events from her life or her friend’s lives.  She lives with one foot in a magical world, where anything is possible.

Her collection, Wild and Wishful, Dark and Dreaming, contains everything mentioned in the title and more. These eighteen short stories and two poems range from dark horror to science fiction, to coming of age, to revenge, often returning to themes of facing our fears, traps and escape, and that we ultimately don’t have to go it alone. Many of these pieces are perfect for reading out loud, and some of them were even designed that way.

What’s nice about single author collections is that the author’s voice can be heard as a constant note through the entire book. And Kontis’s voice is here, loud and strong. this is a woman who wants to take you new place and show you paths you didn’t see before.

Ultimately, Kontis is a woman who knows she’s got a story you want to hear.

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I tweeted this earlier today:

orbit stack

You should totally go through your house and find all your Hachette books and post a photo! On your blog, on twitter, on facebook, on tumblr, anywhere!  I was hoping my stack would be as tall as I am, but alas, it wasn’t. Means I need more Orbit books!

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mendoza in hollywoodMendoza in Hollywood, by Kage Baker

published in 2000

where i got it: purchased used

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This is the third book in the company series, and it’s my third favorite.   Some quick non-spoilery background on the The Company for those of you that don’t know: 350 years from now, time travel is possible.  But you can only go back in time, you  can’t bring anything back to your “home”  time, and history can’t be changed. Ok, so how to get rich quick if artifacts can’t be brought back? Easy.  Send some crews and technology into the past, have them build safehouses and a staff of employees who will set aside your artifacts, and wait, patiently, nearly forever. Company operatives are cybernetically immortal, given an education about everything that will happen, ever (because this is the past for their instructors and doctors, who are from the future), and programmed to be fanatically loyal to the company.

 

Thus, we get science fiction/historical fiction. Which, if you ask me, is one of the best genre combos EVER.

 

Anyways, in the first the book in the series, we met Mendoza, who is rescued from the Spanish inquisition by a company operative. She’s raised and educated within the Company, and completely bombs her first assignment. The second book follows different characters with Mendoza as a very minor character, and in this third book, we are back with Mendoza.  She’s gotten over the raw, raging anger of what happened all those years, but she’s far from healed.

 

Mendoza has been by herself for a very, very long time, and I get it, she hates people, I’m ok with that (some days I hate people too).  So she’s used to very quiet days, very little interactions, not much going on, just being one with nature. Introvert, indeed. Her new assignment is to a post in the Cahuenga Pass in Southern California in 1862, with the mission of collection valuable plant specimens before the drought (and grazing animals) kills (and eats) everything.  Mostly unaffected by the Civil War, it’s an interesting time to be in Hollywood’s backyard.  Mendoza has no choice but to take the assignment, and besides, maybe some conversation would be good for her.

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Robot-UprisingRobot Uprisings edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams

published April 2014

Where I got it: purchased new

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Robots are supposed to help us, right? they’re supposed to do the jobs that humans don’t want to or can’t do, right? and thanks to Asimov’s three (four!) laws, there’s nothing to worry about.

 

right?

 

wrong.  Leave it to folks like Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Cory Doctorow, Ernest Cline, Nnedi Oforakor and others to remind me that robots do exactly what we program them to do, and in many cases this is fucking terrifying.

 

I just about every story in this anthology, we played God. We created something, typically in our own image, that would be able to do things we couldn’t.  Our creations raise and teach our children, solve our computer programming issues, clean up radiation, do jobs that are too dangerous for humans to do, protect company assets, keep us healthy, etc. When we’re so sure our inventions will help us towards a better world, what could possibly go wrong?

 

But lets say we succeed. the computer programming issue has been solved, the kids are grown up, the asset has been protected, diseases have been cured, the radiation has been cleaned up. What do we do when our problem is fixed and our shiny tools are no longer needed?  Robots are designs to work. they are not designed to stop.

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another mangaAnother, by Yukito Ayatsuji (story) and Hiro Kiyohara (artwork)

first English printing October 2013

where I got it: purchased new

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To help him recover from a lung disorder, Sakakibara moves in with his maternal grandparents in a quiet idyllic town. His Aunt Reiko lives with them too.  Raised by his travelling salesman father, Sakakibara is thankful for the quiet stability, but wishes his father would call him more often. This is the town Sakakibara’s mother grew up in, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to learn more about her, as she passed away shortly after he was born. His Mom and Aunt even attended the same school he has transferred into, and Aunt Reiko tells him, among other things, that the most important thing at this school is to go along with whatever his class decides. If one ever wanted to go it alone, or be a square peg in a round hole, this is not the time.

 

Due to his breathing disorder, Sakakibara has to spend a few days in the hospital. He’s visited by some new classmates, who ask him some very strange questions, and he sees another girl from his school, Misaki Mei, wandering around the basement. The conversation he has with Misaki is so odd that he wonders if he’s met a ghost.  School begins, and Misaki is in his class. She’s got to be some kind of ghost, as no one else but him can see her.

 

Sakakibara makes new friends quickly, and they all seem to want to tell him something, but no one can seem to find the right moment, or get the words out when they do.

 

And then people start dying, in horrible, gruesome ways.  One student trips down a flight of stairs while carrying an umbrella, and lands face down on the tip of the umbrella. the sister of another student is killed when the elevator she’s in plummets to the ground. Car accidents, heart attacks, drownings. You’d think they were just natural accidents, except they are happening constantly.  And only to the families of students in Class 3.

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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.