Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

An excellent book with very sympathetic characters in very difficult conditions. Unlike Martin’s Westeros, the scum still strive, debate if they’re good people, and struggle in a difficult world. I continued to enjoy them even as they changed– grew worse and better throughout. Monza, the primary POV character, is dead committed to her revenge– but it’s understandable and she has enough doubts and twinges that I don’t loathe her.

The characters are well drawn; even the chapters from her associates POVs prove well well thought out. The cast balloons up early, but never gets too unwieldy, and usually remains pretty tightly linked to the primary storyline. Monza’s flashbacks provide interesting details that we’ve already heard about, revealing a more complex story than you get on first pass.

I like the book and it ended well– I don’t anticipate a sequel. I look forward to seeing what else Joe Abercrombie has written and plan on checking it out.

Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper

I loved this book. There was interesting interaction between the victors and children of war that drove the book. Chelo and the altered are a fascinating remnant of the war– torn between the only parents they’ve ever known and their biological parents who fled or died years ago.

The various groups’ reactions to the children of their enemies is interesting, varied, and feels realistic. You feel sympathy for the kids, but it’s understandable given the disruption and memory their mere presence keeps provoking.

The role of technology is well handled– this isn’t a run away crazy futuristic technological paradise. There are strong hints of transformative technology elsewhere– but locally, it’s comprehensible. The tales of disaster elsewhere help reinforce the colonists aversion to the technology that creeps closer. The New Making is a great lure; Jenna is quirky and so much more than you first imagine.

A great book– I look forward to reading more by Brenda Cooper in the future.

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell

A fun book with an interesting cast of characters. John deBrun is the clear star of the book– many of the other chapters provide a little more context, but only Dihana, Haidan, and Oaxyctl have great POV chapters. Dihana and Haidan’s work is a nice parallel story, the city background to John’s travel story, and Oaxyctl’s chapters gives a good attacker’s perspective.

The world and technology are an interesting blend; an isolated colony with a collapsed industrial base, just now trying to recapture technology. It’s almost a steampunk level of tech (trains and airships), but it doesn’t have a steampunk feel.

The Aztecs are twisted, largely by their worship of their alien “gods”. The aliens, both loa and aztec, are strange and it’s clear that they’re an isolated part of a larger societies.

In the end, it doesn’t look like a sequel is planned. It was fun, and well written, but I’m not convinced that his books leap to the top of my list.

By day, by night

My search is getting to the point where, by day, I have to consider moving elsewhere. I’ve already applied for positions quite a drive away– Bakersfield for the AQE job, West LA and Orange County as plan check engineers. By day, I am reluctant but rational: it is hard to live without income, and there’s nothing around Fresno that’s hiring in my field. Bummer.

At night, I resist with all the fiber of my being. I have something fun going on all the time, a network of great friends and fun activities, a life that is exactly what I’ve worked to build.

On Wednesday, I made a simple dinner that was enthusiastically devoured, every bite. Sourdough bread (Bittman 858), Roast Chicken Parts with Olive Oil (Bittman 640), Roasted Snap Peas with Spring Onions (T&D Willey Farms), and an apple crisp (Bittman 884) [half pink ladies, half granny smith] plus ice cream. Then we played Settlers of Catan with Dad, Ben, and Tress. Jennifer laughed til her nose bled, Tress was in tears. Wood for sheep indeed!

This weekend has fallen into place wonderfully. Tonight I have a fun AT-43 match with Bryan, tomorrow Aces and Eights with Ben, Dad, and Mike, and Mother’s Day in Visalia with Carrie and her brand new daughter.

Does life get better than this?

The Journal of Robert Cassidy (April 7, 8)

Sunday April 7, 1875; Several hours outside of Independence
Today was a peaceable day. All three preachers spoke, making for a long morning. The first preacher was like to induce snoring, but Reverend Smith perked things up again. Their zeal for spreading the word to the benighted indians out in the territory was clear; it reminded me that we’re on a holy mission. Continue reading “The Journal of Robert Cassidy (April 7, 8)”

The Journal of Robert Cassidy (April 7, 8)

Sunday April 7, 1875; Several hours outside of Independence
Today was a peaceable day. All three preachers spoke, making for a long morning. The first preacher was like to induce snoring, but Reverend Smith perked things up again. Their zeal for spreading the word to the benighted indians out in the territory was clear; it reminded me that we’re on a holy mission. Continue reading “The Journal of Robert Cassidy (April 7, 8)”

Lost in Translation by Edward Willett

This was a great book, headed by two well drawn characters. The book alternates POV chapters between the two characters. The S’sinn are sufficiently alien, and Kathryn is a great viewpoint character.

It’s an interesting universe, with powerful but fallible aliens. The guild of translators and their technology is interesting. It requires a huge sacrifice to translate, and the subsuming of the individuals to the guild is fascinating and works well. When the book turns to action, it pivots well and keeps things tense.

The theme of restraint is continuously in the background, but doesn’t overwhelm anything. All in all, an excellent book. I hope to read more of his books soon.

Dreamships by Melissa Scott

An interesting future, easily imagined as a logical outgrowth of our attitudes today. AI and immigrant rights are the foundation on which the book is built. Hyperspace requires human interaction to navigate, an interesting way of working in relevance for humans.

The technology is interesting, but the author doesn’t drool over it, which makes it feel well established. Jian, our narrator, is honest, with a limited viewpoint and prejudices that are clear. She feels realistic: a person struggling in a work-a-day world, highly skilled in a narrow technical way [starship piloting], which isn’t the best for consistently making the rent. The other characters are sharply drawn with bold flaws that cause them problems.

All in all, a good book. I don’t plan on picking it up, but I won’t be sad if I happen across it again for a reread.