Showing posts from January, 2021

Rainbows End

Rainbows End Vernor Vinge, 2006 Hugo Winner - 2007 Premise: In the near future, advanced technology means new healthcare, new communications, new dangers, and old human problems. I was intrigued by the beginning of this book, a bit ambivalent but still curious in the overstuffed meandering middle, and thoroughly disappointed in the sloppy end. It's probably one of those that I would have abandoned if it wasn't part of my "read all the Hugo winners" project.  I had three main problems by the end. One was mostly a function of when I read the book, but the other two were a fundamental failure to engage with the moral questions it posed and a refusal to reckon with its unlikeable main character. The first problem I had with the book isn't so much a problem with the book as it is a problem with most near-future sci-fi. It was published in 2006. It's set in 2025. The advanced technology it proposes was plausible future tech in 2006, but isn't that related to the

The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)

The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1) Margaret Frazer, 1992 Premise: Young Thomasina is eager to take her vows at the convent of St. Frideswide despite the objections of her wealthy aunt. When tragedy strikes, suspicion falls on the one who should be most innocent.  I'll admit up front that I borrowed this book from the library on the strength of "kinda similar to Cadfael," and I was not disappointed. It's set in the 1400s instead of the 1100s, but the sub-genre of cozy-ish historical murder mysteries set in/around a Benedictine monastery/convent can't have that many entries, right? From the first page, it felt comforting, like a warm cup of tea. (A near trick for a murder mystery.) I really enjoyed all the characters. The main protagonist, Dame Frevisse, was especially delightful between her gentle intelligent snark and practical convictions. The obvious antagonists were over the top without being too extreme, while the more subtle antagonists were implied

Persephone Station

Persephone Station Stina Leicht, 2021 New Release! A digital copy of this book was provided by Netgalley for the purpose of review. Premise: There's only one human settlement on the planet Persephone, but there's a secret outside the city that some would kill to possess and some would die to protect. This is one of those books that I regret to say was only fine. The cast has a great level of diversity in race, gender expression, and sexual orientation. However, the book is no more than an okay sci-fi action caper.  The first chapter is really a prologue, but because it wasn't marked as such, I was confused when we never returned to following that character. (They do show up as a minor character much later, but by that point, I'd forgotten which character that was.) The secondary protagonist is the subject of the second chapter, and we finally meet the main character in chapter 3. She's fine, but nothing really stands out about her.  That feeling was my main problem

Axiom's End

Axiom's End Lindsay Ellis, 2020 Premise: Cora thought that being the daughter of the world's most notorious conspiracy theorist/whistleblower (depending on your point of view) was as weird and stressful as her life was likely to get. Then it turned out that aliens were real. If you know internet personality/film critic/media analyst Lindsay Ellis, you know that she likes genre stuff of all types, but has a special place in her heart for the Transformers. This is evident in her novel but I didn't find it distracting. In broad strokes, the plot has a lot in common with many Transformers stories. Two alien factions come into conflict on Earth; a human with the ability/opportunity to communicate with one alien gets involved, as does the United States government. Beyond that, the story plays with techno-organic lifeforms, alien methods of communication, and very human reactions to extreme situations. It took me a while to get into the story - I found the first section a bit too