Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress

A fascinating book that really made me think. It’s very had to explain, because so much of the explanation requires the context of the characters, and they’re a little harder to sketch than you’d think.

The Atoners are a fascinating mystery that is never quite explained– though near the end their plan becomes a little more clear. The changes that come with the gene expression in the various cultures are fascinating, and feel like reasonable offshoots or extrapolations.

In many ways, this felt very like an Ekumen novel, down to the witnessing and attempt at non-interference. It goes somewhere different than LeGuin would take it– which is good and occasionally surprising when I read. This book seems to be a stand alone– it doesn’t need another part and didn’t leave a glaring opening– but I’d be willing to read about the results of the Atoner’s actions if a sequel is in the cards.

Growing Wings by Laurel Winter

A neat coming of age book, with a special twist. It’s a very interesting way of approaching the idea of minority, fitting in, and the compromises that maturing demands.

It’s a great cross; the love of flight, the desire not to compromise, the realities of maturing in modern America. The relationships are prickly and tense, in large part due to the closed in environment and need to conceal themselves.

I liked the book– it reminded me favorably of the growing up books from my own youth, but an extra dose of the fantastic.

The Journal of Robert Cassidy (to April 3)

Below is the rough draft of the journal for my character, Robert Cassidy. I enjoyed writing it up, and hope the inspiration clings. Some of this was backstory; the session began in mid-march trying to join the wagon train. Much of the writing prior to St. Louis was finding the character’s voice and explaining backgrounds and flaws. Hopefully, a lot of flavor came through.
Continue reading “The Journal of Robert Cassidy (to April 3)”

Bridgehead with Nick

I’ve captioned the photos, so it should be reasonably easy to follow the battle’s progress.

Long story short, Atis devastated my foot soldiers. I compounded the error by dedicating my Wing Troops to Atis suppression; the dice were cold and her grims came out nigh untouched. She followed that up with some flamer blasts and my infantry was cut drastically.

A few tactical errors might have made it more of a match, but Nick built an excellent army and would have been tough even if I’d played flawlessly. Though I do look forward to a rematch come tourney time!

To sprawl or not to sprawl

An interesting discussion/debate. This round was begun by a Kevin Drum comment on a Matt Yglesias post, but delving into his comments section shows a lot of experience with different areas making walkability work.

I particularly liked the following comment about Irvine from a city planner. It’s a good point about the limits of luring with amenities like walking trails and how much of walkability comes about because driving is difficult. Continue reading “To sprawl or not to sprawl”

Half a Crown by Jo Walton

The last book of the trilogy, and a solid conclusion to the series. The focus is tighter, with Elvira as this book’s female lead. Her relationship to Carmichael is much closer; they are intertwined from the start. And she’s not on the other side of Carmichael’s case, the way that the other books aligned things.

Elvira’s a little hard to take seriously. She’s an eighteen year old, written as a convincing eighteen, so she has a number of dangerous assumptions and holes in her knowledge that make her feel realistic.

Carmichael’s changes and experience with power are subtle but present. His good works, and the entire inner watch make sense as a continuation of his character from before. His relation with Normandy remains prickly and fraught, but there’s also a familiarity clear from the last ten years of working together.

All in all, an excellent end to the series. I like it and look forward to rereading the series in a few years.

Ha’Penny by Jo Walton

The second story in the alternate post World War 2 book. Inspector Carmichael comes back for another turn, while the female lead is new. Our female lead this time is Viola Lark, an actress, formerly of a good family.

This was a good book, and stands alone. Unfortunately, despite standing alone just fine, it still felt somewhat like the middle book of a trilogy. I liked it, but the ending (with the MacBeth quotes) and distress seemed overwrought. Getting there, the book is much more solid; I liked the conspiracy and relations of conspirators, and the investigation arm. Carmichael continues to develop– not nicely, but the effects of the last book linger.

I liked it, and would read it again as part of rereading the trilogy. As a stand alone, I’d rarely pick it up.