Saturday, December 18, 2010

Horn - Peter M. Ball

Virgin dick's fairy queen unicorn porn kill hunt.


3.5 out of 5

Apexology - Jason Sizemore

Apexology is a better than good book, with a broad range of styles and sub-genres of horror selected.

It turned out to be better than I thought it would be, with the selections solidly and consistently readable, with the upper tier being as different as the exponentially increasing weird dread of Paul Jessup to the highly amusing debutantes and Cthulhu provided by Pagliasotti.

No bad stories, either, which is extremely well done given you won't have any fingers or toes left after counting the number of tales in this volume.

Also, Apex specialised in science fiction horror, so you get more of that than you likely will in almost any other book. That is, more than one story. Many horror editors have a distinct aversion to such, it would seem.

For people looking for a large dose of right smack-bang in the middle horror, give Apexology a shot.

Apexology : It Tasted Like the Sea - Paul Jessup
Apexology : Summon Bind Banish - Nick Mamatas
Apexology : To Every Thing There is a Season - Dru Pagliassotti
Apexology : Life's a Beach - Alethea Kontis and Ariell Branson
Apexology : Kusatenda Uroyi - Gill Ainsworth
Apexology : Lottery - Gene O'Neill
Apexology : Cerbo en Vitra ujo - Mary Robinette Kowal
Apexology : The Spider in the Hairdo - Michael A. Burstein
Apexology : The Dark Side - Guy Hasson
Apexology : With the Beating of their Wings - Martel Sardina
Apexology : Enough to Make a Devil - R. Thomas Riley
Apexology : Flash of Light - Jason Sizemore
Apexology : Transylvania Mission - Lavie Tidhar
Apexology : Inside Looking Out or Falling Through the Worlds - Mari Adkins
Apexology : Powered - Deb Taber
Apexology : Disturbing Things - B.J. Burrow
Apexology : Eulogy for Muffin - Jennifer Brozek
Apexology : Hands of Heritage - Elizabeth Engstrom
Apexology : The Junkyard God - M. Zak Anwar and O.M.R. Anwar
Apexology : Bessie Green's Thumb - Fran Friel

For the wolf commandos. Yeah, nazi werewolves. The usual.

3.5 out of 5


Saw momma.

3 out of 5


Family feud all over again.

3.5 out of 5


Host cut smash.

3.5 out of 5


Yog-Sothoth in jail.

3.5 out of 5


For R'lyeh Coming Out.

4 out of 5


Transformation vixen hunt..

3.5 out of 5


Crowley likes the penis.

3 out of 5


Body harvested boy bits bonk breathe no more.

3.5 out of 5


Rooms of chopped up me, and others.

4 out of 5


Trying the dead thing.

3 out of 5


Pandemonium garden fertiliser.

3.5 out of 5


Staking dad Van Helsing.

3 out of 5


Invasion host.

3 out of 5


Damn, I'm possessed.

3.5 out of 5


Wild Hunt Mummy.

3.5 out of 5


Searat murder talk.

3 out of 5


Big Dog spare.

3.5 out of 5


Pool of Fallen Heroes.

3.5 out of 5


Ghost murder hunt.

3.5 out of 5



4 out of 5

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Fife of Bodidharma - Cordwainer Smith

Short Story

Number of words : 2900
Percent of complex words : 10.3
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 16.0


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.5
Flesch : 64.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.2


PEOPLE

Goldsmith

Made the fife and died as a result.

Bodidharma the Blessed One

Ancient religious leader who is given the fife.

German explorer

Found the fife.

Wolfgang Huene

A nazi who hates Hitler and finds the fife.

Hagen von Griin

One of the German rocket scientists who worked at Huntsville, Alabama.



TECHNOLOGY

Magical fife

A musical instrument. A chancy prediscovery of psionic powers with sonic triggering. Made of gold.

Onyx

A type of quartz.

Case No. 34 of the Dorotheum

Where the fife resided in Germany.


PLACES

Cathay

Another name for part of China.

Loyang

Chinese city.

Anyang

City in South Korea.

Rhine

German river.

Cape Canaveral

Site of USA space launches.


ORGANISATIONS

Northern Wei dynasty

Ancient Chinese rulers.

Toba Tartars

Chinese barbarians.

Volkssturm

German military group.

Harappa

A proto-Indian culture.


ANIMALS

Tiger and wolf and fox and jackal and snake and spider

Encountered by the Bodidharma.


VEHICLES

B-29s

Allied planes.


PLOT

A goldsmith makes a fife with special properties which has different owners over time from Bodidharmas to nazis. Eventually a rocket scientist uses it as a replacement strut in a launch and wonders if it matters in what setting he left it.


2.5 out of 5

Nancy - Cordwainer Smith

Short Story

Number of words : 4700
Percent of complex words : 8.5
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.5


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.6
Flesch : 77.0
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.1

PEOPLE

Gordon Greene

Originally Giordano Verdi. A Space Service officer.

Wallenstein

An old man.

Karl Vonderleyen

An old lieutenant of the service.



ORGANISATIONS

Space Service

Goes into the Up-and-Out.


TECHNOLOGY

Nancy

An imaginary virus created friend.

Sokta virus

Designed to be implanted in a person and released in the case of needing companionship in space.


PLANTS

Geraniums

A type of flower.


FOOD

Dago Red

A wine.


PLOT

Man cannot cope in space alone, so missions always have more than one person. However, if one dies then there is a problem. The sotka virus enables a person to experience an imaginary companion after it is triggered. In a military interview, such a story is recounted.


3.5 out of 5

Angerhelm - Cordwainer Smith

Novelette

Number of words : 8100
Percent of complex words : 10.0
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 12.3


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 9.0
Flesch : 70.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.4


PEOPLE

Assistant

To Mr Spatz.

Mr Spatz

His boss.

Khruschev

Russian Prime Minister.

Secretary of State

USA cabinet member.

Undersecretary

Deputy to the Secretary of State.

Nelson Angerhelm

Of 2322 Ridge Drive, Hopkins, Minnesota. A 62-year-old retired poultry farmer. He had served in World I.

Colonel Plugg

A US army officer.

Lieutenant Colonel Potariskov

The Soviet Assistant Military Attache.

Colonel Tice Angerhelm

Nelson's younger brother, deceased.

Theiss Ankerhjelm

Swedish admiral a couple hundred years ago. A West Pointer in the Adjutant General's office.

Don Juan

Famous womaniser.

Soviet Ambassador

Head of the Soviet diplomatic mission.

Jensen

Angerhelm's pastor.

Mrs. Prai Jesselton

Tice's old girlfriend.


ORGANISATIONS

Department of the Army

US government department.

Signal Corps

Army intelligence gatherers.

Soviet Embassy

Diplomatic mission to the USA.

SAC base

Army facility.

FBI

Federal Bureau of Intelligence. USA national cops.


VEHICLES

Sputniks

Russian spacecraft.


CONCEPTS

Galactic clearance

Security rating. Galactic clearance came a little bit after Universal clearance.


PLACES

Minneapolis

US city.

Plattsburg

Town in New York.

Hopkins

A town in Minnesota, a diplomatic no travel zone.


VEHICLES

Chevrolet

A car.

Willys roadster

An old car.



PLOT

The intelligence communities of the USA and the Soviet Union are concerned about a message from a dead colonel to his retired brother in Minnesota. Especially as it doesn't matter what country you are in when you receive the broadcast and you can tell what it is.


3 out of 5

Induction - Greg Egan

Short Story

Number of words : 5300
Percent of complex words : 12.9
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 23.3


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 14.5
Flesch : 50.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 12.0


PEOPLE

Ikat

An astronaut on the moon.

Pope

Religious leader.

Qing

Ikat's colleague.

Mother

Of Ikat.

Father

Of Ikat.

Vikram Ali

Represents Khamoush Holdings.

Armstrong

First man on the moon.



TECHNOLOGY

Launch gun

Used for shooting payloads a long way into space at near light speeds.

Stage Nine

The ten-kilometre section of the barrel where the pellets would be accelerated from sixteen to eighteen per cent of light speed.

Maglev railway

Hover transport route.

Coil gun

Small space payload launcher.

Harbour Bridge

Sydney transport structure due for decommissioning.

Nanoware

Small manufacturing technology that is programmable.


ORGANISATIONS

Council of Islamic Scholars in Brussels

Religious academic group.

URC

Chinese government.

Magic Beans Inc.

Part of Khamoush Holdings.


PLACES

Potomac

River in Washington, DC, USA.

Procellarum

A moon base.

Bangkok

City in Thailand.

Prosperity B

A star in the target system.

Prosperity A

The larger companion star.

Duty

Prosperity A's fourth planet.

Aksai Chin

Part of China near India in the Tibet area.

Tokelau

Islands ruled by New Zealand.

Kowloon

Part of Hong Kong.

Mumbai

City in India.

Patience

A smaller planet in the prosperity system.


VEHICLES

Orchid Flower

Sent by launch gun and containing tiny pellets to be launched into space. The pellets that comprised the seed were not physically connected, but they would move in synch in a rigid pattern, forming a kind of sparse crystal whose spacing allowed it to interact strongly with the microwave radiation in the gun.

Pioneer 10

Early spacecraft.



CONCEPTS

Acorporeals

People that have left their bodies.


PLOT

Ikat is an astronaut on the moon, working on a project to launch a payload to nearby stars. Along with her friend Qing.

Then, in the future, people have the ability to be scanned and become posthuman, and the company that bought the rights to some of their early work has an offer for them - they can explore locally in person the new system. And from there, do further exploration.


4 out of 5

In Numbers - Greg Egan

Short Story

Number of words : 6900
Percent of complex words : 11.9
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 15.2


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.8
Flesch : 60.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.5


PEOPLE

Doctor Dreyfus

The medico on the Cyclops.

Andrew Callaghan

An engineer that has gone crazy due to the condition.

Jenny

Another crew member and cyberneticist.

Captain Salih al-Qasbi

Ship's leader.

Thomas Bwalya

Life-support engineer.

Greta Nordstrom

Communications engineer.

Kayathiri Sangaralingam

Drive specialist.



VEHICLES

Cyclops

A spaceship attempting to travel a record distance.


TECHNOLOGY

DDC-XV

A mixture of anti-viral agents.


CONCEPTS

Legionnella Six

A disease.

Cyclops Syndrome

Condition affecting Andrew Callaghan and the crew.

Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment

Famous quantum mechanics work.


TECHNOLOGY

NMR spectra

Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy - a technique that exploits the magnetic properties of certain nuclei.

PET scans

Position emission tomography. A technique which produces a three-dimensional image or picture of functional processes in the body.

Nanomachines

Tiny robots that can be weapons or medical repair devices.


ORGANISATIONS

ISUSAT

A spaceflight centre.


MEDIA

The Plague

Work by Camus that inspired David to become a doctor.


PLOT

Dreyfus in the doctor on a ship that is attemping a voyage further out than anyone has gone before. The crew are beginning to come down with what seems like a disease that makes them crazy and dangerous, and in need of restraint.

It looks like it will affect all of them, so he has to make provision for everyone to be safe and to be fed by robot until they return.

However the condition seems to dissipate. He theorises that it may be because they have gone too far away from the rest of humanity, that there is some sort of quantum effect of life. If you go too far from Earth, your body will not be able to take it.


4 out of 5

The Star Surgeon's Apprentice - Alastair Reynolds

Novelette

Number of words : 10500
Percent of complex words : 7.5
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 9.7


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 6.9
Flesch : 76.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 4.5

PEOPLE


Peter Vandry

A boy who needs to get offworld in a hurry.

Master Khorog

Shipmaster and pirate.

Mister Zeal

The ship's surgeon.

Happy Jack

He and his gang are after Peter on Mokmer.

Lobot girl

An Iron Lady drive engineer.

Baby

A young Flux Swimmer.


PLACES

Juntura Spaceport

Where Peter wants to get a ride anywhere but here.

Mokmer

The planet he wants to leave.

Bafq Gap and Belterra Sphere

Places he doesn't want to go.

Frovolo

A planet he wants to get to, in the Frovolo Hub.

The Napier Belt

Before Frovolo.

Jelgava

Has a good antique weapons market.

Crab Pulsar

Has a strong magnetic field.


ORGANISATIONS

Kalarash Empire

An old civilisation.


WEAPONS

Bone gun

A sonic disruptor weapon.

Tranquilizer gun

Small, non-lethal weapon that looks like a soldering iron.


VEHICLES

Iron Lady

A pirate ship that is really the Devilfish.


TECHNOLOGY

Freezer

Ship cryogenics.

Ramscoop

Ship drive.


CONCEPTS

Lobots

Humans with brain surgery modifications to make them dumb and docile.

Wethead

An unmodified human.

St. Elmo's Fire

An electrical weather phenomenon.


RACES

Flux Swimmers

Creatures that live among stars and create magnetic fields. Can be used as a weapon as a result.


PLOT

Peter needs to get offplanet as some thugs are after him. He gains passage on the Iron Lady in trade and in labour, where he is to work as the apprentice surgeon for a crew of cyborgs.

The ship is really a pirate ship and also uses lobotomised human cyborgs as labour.

When the ship gets in a conflict he learns that they are actually the infamous crew of the pirate ship Devilfish, and that their advantage is a captive pair of Flux Swimmers, who have magnetic abilities that can be used to disable other ships.

Peter is horrified by this information given to him by a slightly less dumbed down lobot girl who tends them, and he decides to help her do something about bumping off the cyborg crew. That is, metal powers, cyborgs = bad combination for them if the Baby Flux Swimmer can be given enough food to make it strong enough to use its nascent abilities at this range.

The problem with this plan is the girl also has metal in her head, and it will kill her if Peter can't convince her to let him operate first, very, very fast.


4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot Rock - Greg Egan

Novella

Number of words : 20700
Percent of complex words : 12.9
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 15.9


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 11.5
Flesch : 59.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 9.0


PEOPLE

Azar

Traveller to Tallulah from the Amalgam.

Shelma

A Bahari who meets Azar at Tallulah.

Shirin

Azar's great-great-granddaughter.

Jake

Spiral Out follower.

Tilly

Spiral Out follower.

Juhi

Spiral Out follower.

Rahul

Spiral Out follower.

Omar

A progressive Circler.

Lisa

A Circler.

Silas

A Circler.

Judah

A Circler spokesman.

Tarek

A Circler.

Santo

A Spiral Out delegate to the Amalgam.



PLACES

Hanuz

Azar's home system.

Tallulah

The planet Azar travels to, a world with no sun over a thousand light years from her home.

Bahar

A nearby solar system to Hanuz. Their people have five limbs and five tails.

Jute

A Tallulah colony.


TECHNOLOGY

Departure Gate

The launching off point for travelling to the new system.

Mologhat 1 and 2

Robot Probes to Tallulah.

Antimatter store

Powers Robot Probes and other such space craft.

Thermocouple

A junction between two different metals that produces a voltage related to a temperature difference.

Rail gun

Device for accelerating a payload rapidly into orbit.

Femtotech

The engineering of matter on the scale of atomic nuclei.

Mass spectrometer

Machine for measuring chemical composition.

Hoops

Made of something extraordinarily strong, spinning at close to the speed of light. A power source on Tallulah.

Deep-bore geothermal turbines

Used for specialized research projects.

Scout mites

Exploration and communication tiny tech.

Photonic jet

Used for moving Tallulah.

Geothermal cannons

Used for moving Tallulah to allow evacuations.

Deep rock graft

Used for seeding other worlds.



ORGANISATIONS

Amalgam

The meta-civilization that now ringed the galaxy.

Circlers

A Tallulah philosophy of those that want to stay on the planet.

Spiral In

A Tallulah philosophy. Followers that want to leave their bodies and become information. They do so and embed their minds in the deep rock of the planet.

Spiral Out

A Tallulah philosophy. Followers want to leave the planet.



CONCEPTS

C3

A carbohydrate polymer replicator.

P2

A polypeptide replicator.

Thermoelectric diffusion

In a particular Tallulah plant the electrons and holes would conduct heat from the ground up into the leaves, and in doing so they'd set up an electric potential, which in turn could be used to drive chemical reactions.

Chemosynthesis

Process of extracting energy from chemicals a la photosynthesis.

N2

DNA, Azar's ancestral replicator.

N3

A hereditary replicator.

Magnetic moment

A quantity that determines the force the magnet can exert on electric currents and the torque that a magnetic field will exert on it.

Next Passengers

The group that will use Tallulah in the future.


PLANTS

Entropy tree

Operates on thermoelectric diffusion, a living thermocouple.

Ribbon weed

A Tallulah common plant, also comes in giant varieties.



RACES

P2 Lizards

The current inhabitants of Tallulah. Two eight-clawed limbs that they used for digging and grasping objects; all their motive force came from their powerful tails. They sensed the world around them with a mixture of IR vision and sonar.

Builders

Creators of Tallulah. The Ground Heaters.

Old Passengers

Lived on Tallulah after the Builders.


ANIMALS

Tallulah wildlife

Shrimp-like animals straining microbes from the water, floating gas bladders with poisonous tentacles, and sinuous, muscular fish of every size among others.


VEHICLES

Mologhat 3

The probe for use in returning to the Amalgam.


PLOT

An Amalgam story.

Azar travels from her homeworld to the Tallulah system to explore this strange world with no sun. She is met there by Shelma, and together they explorer and finally make contact with the locals. A lizard-like people with their own political divisions, conservative, progressive explorers, and inward turning transhumanists.

The planet's technology allows extremely efficient conversion of energy, allowing it to stay warm without a star, and also the storage of those who leave their bodies to exist as information.

The conservative faction sees the arrival of aliens as a threat, and a precursor to a new wave of settling on the planet, and conflict erupts. One of their Spiral Out friends is taken hostage. They have to try and find a compromise to keep him safe, and allow those who want to make contact with the Amalgam to do so.


4 out of 5

Africa Zero - Neal Asher

Two novellas about a very long-lived artificial man with superhuman capabilities thanks to his technology policing species diversity on a future Earth. With brings him into conflict with others like him, and with the corporate enclaves that remains.

Africa Zero : Africa Zero - Neal Asher
Africa Zero : The Army of God and the Sauraman - Neal Asher

Collector mammoth preservation wife cull.

4.5 out of 5


Dino hybrid near space struggle Collector wifely solution, with battle tanks.

3.5 out of 5



4.5 out of 5

The Army of God and the Saurman - Neal Asher

Dino hybrid near space struggle Collector wifely solution, with battle tanks.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Hundred Light-Year Diary : Greg Egan

Short Story

Number of words : 5500
Percent of complex words : 12.3
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 19.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 12.7
Flesch : 54.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 10.5


PEOPLE

James

A husband to be.

Alison

His wife to be.

Francis Chen

An astronomer who looked for time-reversed galaxies in space.

Hazzard and Capaldi and Wu

Astronomers who work on the hardware to communicate between future and past.

Pria

James and Alison's best man.

Lisa

A political staffer and mistress of James.

Henry Kissinger

A politician.

Maura

A politician.


PLACES

Kashmir

Disputed region between India and Pakistan where war breaks out in 2079.


ORGANISATIONS

Fulvio's

A restaurant on Martin Place.

St Vincent's

A hospital with a Casualty Department.

God Averts His Gaze

A cult with the political balance of power in 2077.


TECHNOLOGY

Hazzard Machines

Allows transmissions of messages from the future, 128 bytes per person per day.

ROMs

Digital information discs.


CONCEPTS

Shunting

Fictional theory that you can avoid something preordained communicated from the future.


PLOT

Astronomers discover that time reverses with the contraction of the universe. This allows the construction of machines that allow people's past and future selves to communicate - the amount of which is limited by bandwidth, and, of course, government desires on what people should actually know when it comes to wars. People of course cannot be made to communicate with their past selves, and a mistress of James desire to not do so, her pragmatism and political job and some conversations leads him to some terrifying realisations about what is going on.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, November 27, 2010

At Budokan - Alastair Reynolds

Novelette

Number of words : 8100
Percent of complex words : 8.6
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 7.7
Flesch : 72.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.7


PEOPLE

Buddy Fox

A music promoter and entrepreneur.

James Hetfield

Singer with Metallica.

Jake Addison

Buddy's old partner and creator of Derek.

Derek

A Tyrannosaurus Rex that can play rock guitar.

Rachmaninov

A composer.



PLACES

Sea of Okhotsk

Body of water near Siberia.

Helsinki

City in Finland, where rock dinosaurs are made.

Copenhagen

City in Denmark.


MEDIA

Metallica

A heavy metal band.

Extinction Event

One of Derek's songs.

Rise of the Mammals

Another of Derek's songs.

Ghoul Group

The world's first all-dead rock act.

Godzilla

A fictional giant Japanese mutant radioactive firebreathing dinosaur.

Robot Metallica

Artificial tribute band.

Giant Robot Metallica

Really big artificial tribute band.


ORGANISATIONS

Morbid Management

Buddy and Jake's music company.

Gladius Biomech

Did the scientific work to make Derek.


FOOD

JD

Jack Daniels, a whisky.

Mammoth

As airline food, tastes like chicken.


VEHICLES

Antonov

An AN-225, the largest plane ever made, built fifty years ago for the Soviet space program.

Maglev

A hovertrain.


ANIMALS

T-Rex

Tyrannosaurus Rex, a dinosaur. Also an extremely expensive food.


TECHNOLOGY

Gibson Flying V

A brand of guitar.

Motor homunculus

Map of human brain function, according to how much volume's given over to a specific task. Looks like a little man with huge fucking hands.


CONCEPTS

Dorsal premotor cortex

Associated with the brain planning a sequence of body movements.


PLOT

Buddy and Jake are two music industry guys that run a management company that creates acts. Having run out of normal band ideas, they make one out of dead people. Eventually all artists want a better deal and not to be so screwed over, so they have to keep moving on. Like licensing robot replicas of Metallica to play around the world. Then Giant Robot Metallica. Which doesn't go so well, due to well, Giant Robot Rampage.

Metallica is not pleased and Fox is drowning his sorrows and trying to keep the nightmares and lawsuits at bay having dissolved his partnership.

His old partner Jake has an idea, however. He takes Buddy to what he has done - grown a T-Rex with hands so that it can play guitar.

Works very nicely and does well. However, even dinosaurs start to improvise when they rock. So it is go with it, or move on again.


4.5 out of 5

Shine - Jetse De Vries

Updated - I was wrong, there is an ebook now - at least mobi, Amazon, Books On Board, etc. At the start of the year when I bought it and noted it there wasn't, as I would have bought that. http://www.amazon.com/Shine-ebook/dp/B003IWOBX4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A1HC3MLVT7QPHY


An anthology that was better than I thought it would be, given the lineup and being original, coming out at a very nice 3.59. Or somewhere between 4.25 and 4.5, basically. Impressively done. Kudos to Solaris too, for giving this a shot when generally speaking, the usual multinational offshoots just will not anymore. However, to partially alleviate that there is an excellent associated website. There are links to a couple of stories online (Yunye and Kenyon) anda podcast of the Tidhar piece. Plus some other excerpts and supporting stories of similar quality.

However, it also includes some twitter microstories of relevance, and introductions from an editor that is passionate about the project, which makes it even more pleasant to read. Also some non-fiction references.

Also, the settings range around the world, something that American editors, deliberately or not, often have great problems with. Therefore, we clearly need more Dutch editors. :)

Plus, it has Alastair Reynolds. And his story is extremely funny, and rather different to all the others, so a definitely excellent change of pace work in the middle, there.

Interestingly, he says most of the writers around are pathetically incapable of writing a story along these lines - which is odd, given as they say, ideas are a dime a dozen.

Anyway, just about a textbook example of how to do it, I think, compared to the usual hopelessness from Penguin or Macmillan or whoever that are so uselessly unprofessional they cannot even manage a table of contents.

I thought this book would be decent - so when it hits around the excellent mark and is a great price currently you really should buy it.

Having read hundreds of anthologies it isn't often that I want to revisit one soon afterwards, Shine is definitely one such.

Shine : The Earth of Yunhe - Eric Gregory
Shine : The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up Up Up - Jacques Barcia
Shine : Overhead - Jason Stoddard
Shine : Summer Ice - Holly Phillips
Shine : Sustainable Development - Paula R. Stiles
Shine : The Church of Accelerated Redemption - Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard
Shine : The Solnet Ascendancy - Lavie Tidhar
Shine : Twittering the Stars - Mari Ness
Shine : Seeds - Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Shine : At Budokan - Alastair Reynolds
Shine : Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic - Gord Sellar
Shine : Scheherazade Caught in Starlight - Jason Andrew
Shine : Russian Roulette 2020 - Eva Maria Chapman
Shine : Castoff World - Kay Kenyon
Shine : Paul Kishosha's Children - Kenn Edgett
Shine : Ishin - Madeline Ashby

Metanation seed.

4 out of 5


Posthuman plan power lack.

3.5 out of 5


Lunar Last Resort.

4 out of 5


Parked fountain.

3.5 out of 5


Robots. Smashing.

3.5 out of 5


AI uplift thinktank recruit.

3.5 out of 5


Vanuatu tech leapfrog.

3.5 out of 5


Iridium fetching alien bacteria eating surprise.

4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eugene - Greg Egan

Short Story

Number of words : 5500
Percent of complex words : 15.7
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 20.9


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 14.6
Flesch : 48.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 11.6


PEOPLE

Angela Cooper

Lottery millionaire mother who wants an enhanced son.

Bill Cooper

Lottery millionaire father who wants an enhanced son.

Sam Cook

MB BS MD FRACP PhD MBA. A reproductive specialist.

Elvis Presley

An early rock singer.

Eugene

Bill and Angela's future child.

Kant

A philosopher.

Beethoven

A composer.


TECHNOLOGY

Perspex

A transparent thermoplastic.

IVF

In-vitro fertilisation.


ORGANISATIONS

Human Potential

A genetic engineering company.

Department of Social Security

Australian government department.

Department of Defence

Australian government department.


PLACES

Melbourne

Capital of Victoria.

Alice Springs

City in the Northern Territory.


CONCEPTS

Neo-blacks

People who have taken a viral treatment to turn their skin black and make it more resistant to skin cancer and radiation given the ozone depletion.

Muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease

Genetic conditions Human Potential can eliminate.

TPGM

Third-party genetic material.

Grand Unified Field Theory

Merged interaction of the fundamental forces.


VEHICLES

Roll-Royces

Expensive cars.


MEDIA

Van Goghs

Old paintings.



PLOT

Bill and Angela meet and decide they are compatible, so do the usual thing. After winning the lottery they decide to have a child that has undergone gene therapy.

The act and possibility of doing so with so many millions behind it earns them a visit from the future-possible avatar of the child - who doesn't see any point in his existence as they desired it, tells them this briefly, empties their banks accounts, and vanishes.

The three people involved go back to their lives.


4 out of 5

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dust - Greg Egan

Novelette

Number of words : 12300
Percent of complex words : 12.7
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 12.3


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.0
Flesch : 58.3
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.2


PEOPLE

Paul Durham

Experimenter with Copies of himself.

Dali and Giger

Painters and artists.

Martin Sandover

Former US President and crook.

Tsang Chao and Michael Nyman and Philip Glass

Composers.

Elizabeth

Paul's girlfriend.

Cleopatra or Ramses II

Ancient Egyptian rulers.

Rembrandt and Picasso

Painters and artists.


TECHNOLOGY

Copy

Computer representation of a human created by scanning their brain.

Telepresence

Remote operation of robots.


CONCEPTS

Strong AI Hypothesis

Declares that consciousness is a property of certain algorithms, independent of their implementation.

Gaia

Earth deity.


MEDIA

Principia

A mathematical tome.

Mishima

A Glass composition.

David

A statue by Michaelangelo.


PLACES

Canberra

Capital of Australia.

Sydney

Capital of NSW.

New York

American city.


ORGANISATIONS

Hitachi Supercomputer Facility

In Tokyo. One of the processors Durham uses in his experiments.


PLOT

Paul Durham is creating copies of himself by brain scanning to see if running them via massively distributed processing results in something equivalent to reality. And it doesn't matter where they are run, geographically. Being programs, they can also be run at varying speeds. The Dust Theory.

His girlfriend Elizabeth doesn't like what he is doing, and suggests if he is going to inflict this on Copies, he should undergo it himself, and she helps him set things up so that he thinks he is a copy in a simulation.


5 out of 5

The Anteroom - Adam-Troy Castro

Post-zombie regret, maybe.


3.5 out of 5

Story of Your Life - Ted Chiang

Novella

Number of words : 17400
Percent of complex words : 13.2
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 13.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.7
Flesch : 60.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.2


PEOPLE

Louise Banks

A linguist asked by the US military to help communicate with aliens.

Daughter

By Gary. She died.

Nelson

The new boyfriend.

Colonel Weber

Recruits her for the project.

Dr. Gary Donnelly

A physicist Louise works with studying the heptapods, marries and later separates from.

Captain Cook

An explorer.

Roxie

Daughter's friend at 16.

Raspberry

A heptapod.

Flapper

A heptapod.

Moorehead

Another heptapod studying physicist.

Cisneros

Working on the Massachusetts looking glass.

Hossner

A government flunkie.

Burghart

The linguist at the Ft. Worth looking glass.



PLACES

Ellis Avenue

Where Louise lived.

Belmont Street

Where Louise lived next.

Illinois

A US state.

Massachussets

A US state.

Lascaux

Site of famous cave paintings in France.

Fort Worth

City in Texas, USA.




ORGANISATIONS

Mountain Rescue

Found Louise's daughter's body.

State Department

US Government body that deals with non-US relations.


TECHNOLOGY

Looking glasses

Alien communications device.

Etch-a-Sketch

Child's drawing toy.



RACES

Heptapods

Alien visitors to Earth.


CONCEPTS

Heptapod A

The alien spoken language.

Heptapod B

The alien written language.

Phonemics/graphemics

Study of language sounds and writing.

Logographic

Language written via pictures.

Semasiographic

Writing without reference to speech.

Glottographic

Writing that represents speech.

Semagram

A word coined to describe a unit of the written heptapod language.

Escheresque

Reminiscent of the optical illusory art of M. C. Escher.

Fermat's Principle

Least time path of a ray of light.

Planck mass

2.17644(11)×10−8 kg

Spin-flip of atomic hydrogen

An excited hydrogen atom will have an electron change back to the lower energy configuration eventually.

Morpheme

Smallest component of a word.

Teleological

A process for the sake of an end.

ASL

American Sign Language.

Mandalas

Concentric diagrams.

Xenobiology

The study of alien life.


VEHICLES

The Endeavour

Captain Cook's ship.


FOOD

Gourd

Hepatod food.

Gelatin egg

Hepatod food.

Brussels sprouts

A hated vegetable.


MEDIA

Borgesian Book of Ages

Fictional chronicle that records every event, past and future.



PLOT

Louise Banks is recruited by the US military to team with a physicist to understand the newly arrived aliens. She is an expert linguist.

She comes to realise the Heptapods have a distinct written and spoken language that are not related. Heptapod B, and Heptapod A.

The humans experience a breakthrough in understanding the alien mathematics with Fermat's Principle. The alien understanding of time is different and so is their language.

The Heptapods written language is such that starting means you know how it will end. This changes the way her brain functions as she increases her facility with it.

During the project she falls in love with her teammate Gary, and they marry and have a daughter but separate, and the daughter is killed in an accident. She can perceive the daughter's whole life because of her heptapod experience and this is interweaved throughout the story.


4.5 out of 5

Zombieville - Paula R. Stiles

Cameron zombie cleanout.


3.5 out of 5

Danger Word - Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Family zombies, grandpa.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Six Directions of Space - Alastair Reynolds

Novella

Number of words : 24000
Percent of complex words : 11.6
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 13.8


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.2
Flesch : 63.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.8


PEOPLE

Yellow Dog

A government operative and one of the Thirteen. Ariuna Bocheng is one of her aliases as a journalist. Real name Ariuuna.

Tenger

Yellow Dog's escort.

Khan

A Mongol ruler.

Minister Chiledu

For the Khan.

Qilian

One of the men who had been making life difficult for the khan these last few years. NHK ruler who puts Yellow Dog to work.

Tisza

An enhanced eununch who guards Yellow Dog on the BK.

Tayang

A steward on the BK.

Uugan

Yellow Dog's research deputy.

Muhunnad

An alien from the Shining Caliphate, surgically adapted to pilot ships as a criminal punishment.

Jura and Batbayar

Technical staff on the River Volga.


ANIMALS

Goyo

Yellow Dog's horse.

Lemur

A small primate.


ORGANISATIONS

Nestorians

A christian sect.

Kuchlug Special Administrative Volume

A political division of Mongol space.

Kiriltuk, Tatatunga, and Chilagun administrative volumes

More political divisions of Mongol space.

Sorkan-Shira

Pony renters.

Zarnuk

Silk manufacturers.

New Far Samarkand Mutual Insurance

Insurance company.

Blue Heaven

A Mongol intelligence group.

New High Karakorum

An administrative volume of dubious legality.

Shining Caliphate

Political body where Muhanaad is from. The Shining Ones.


PLACES

Gansu Nexus

A Mongol star system where major trunk routes converged.

Kherlen Corridor

A wide transport region of Mongol space.

The Parvan Tract

A notoriously rough passage of Mongol space.

Qing Shui

A moon under Qilian's control.

Greater Mongolia

Area of Earth. Mongolia, parts of China and Russia.


RACES

Khorkoi

Aliens who left relics and FTL universe shifting tech.

Fish People

Another Galactic Empire race from another universe.

Thin Men

Another Galactic Empire race.

Smiling Ones

A reptile Galactic Empire. Do not appreciate monkeyboys of any variety.


CONCEPTS

Founder's Day

A Mongol holiday.

Mongol Expansion

Mongols in space and Galactic Empires.

Centromeric

The most condensed and constricted region of a chromosome, to which the spindle fiber is attached during mitosis.

Li

A Chinese measurement of distance.


FOOD

Temujin Brand Airag

Grog.

Death Worm Airag

Very strong grog.


VEHICLES

Burkhan Khaldun

A spaceship.

Black Heart Mountain

A larger ship.

River Volga

A hardened exploration ship.

Mandate of Heaven

An exploration ship slaved to the River Volga.



TECHNOLOGY

Infrastructure

Superluminal machinery of khorkoi origin through which you can travel to other universes. A bit unstable.



PLOT

Yellow Dog is a spy in Mongol Space. She is busted, and Qilian, a warlord of one of those good old lawless type regions of a Galactic Empire has some interesting alien technology, of multiple varieties. The space 'phantoms' are aliens from other realities.

He has a ship, and they find a man alive - someone who has been altered to pilot ships by connecting them. He is from another universe, and they decide to put him to use, even if they can't torture everything they want out of him.

However, in an unstable Infrastructure with a pilot you do not fully understand you just might end up in another universe. And even if you have an advanced ship, other Galactic Empires are full of hi tech nastiness and weapons, too. Eventually you will run out of luck trying to find your way back home.

The pilot Muhunnad is from an Arab Empire, and was made a pilot because he was a criminal that got caught. Qilian he would be happy to be rid of, to be his own master for a time - and in the inevitable one fight too many for the River Volga, he finesses things to fool Qilian into abandoning ship, and gets himself and Ariuuna out of there as best he can - but to where, he can't control.


4.5 out of 5

Fury - Alastair Reynolds

Novelette

Number of words : 11500
Percent of complex words : 11.8
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 12.0


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 9.5
Flesch : 65.1
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.1


PEOPLE

Mercurio

The Galactic Emperor's security head, and an artificial intelligence.

Emperor

Ruler of the Galactic Empire.

Vratsa

An uplift pond-keeper of gorilla stock.

Fury

Mercurio's brother artificial intelligence.


PLACES

Capital Nexus

The area of space around the planet the emperor lives on.

Great House

Emperor's residence.

Selva

One of the major power centers of the Luquan Emergence.

Porz

One of the major power centers of the Luquan Emergence.

Julact

The old heart of the Luquan Emergence. Also known as Mars in the past.

Phobos and Deimos

The moons of Mars.


ANIMALS

Asgai Koi

Large, long-lived fish which the Emperor keeps as pets.


TECHNOLOGY

Gravity neutralisers

Can float stuff.

Surface-environment protection units

Fully closed-cycle models with exoskeletal servo-systems, to assist wearers. Sophisticated units with a high capacity for self-repair.


ORGANISATIONS

Radiant Commonwealth

A Galactic Empire.

Luquan Emergence

An area of the empire.

Coronal Polities

An area of the Empire.


CONCEPTS

Prime

A common Galactic language.

Superluminal

Faster than lightspeed.


VEHICLES

Flying disk

A common form of transportation in the Julactic League.


PLOT

Mercurio fails to stop a successful assassination attempt on his Emperor. However, he has unlimited backup bodies on tap, and an ordinary killing won't stop him. They both agree this is odd. Mercurio sets out to find out what happened.

He meets fellow artificial intelligence Fury. A brother of sorts who was behind the killing, as a lure to get Mercurio to come and find him. He tells the story of their evolution over a long time from the protective suits to their current form. The current Emperor killed his brother on Mars a long time ago, leading to war. However, he is currently ruling the Empire rather well, so Mercurio has a dilemma.

Rather than detonate himself and wipe everything out where the Emperor lives, he demands a different sort of punishment. He demands the Emperor kill his beloved pet koi that he has spent so much time raising. Then they can go on as before, protector and ruler.


4 out of 5

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Zendegi - Greg Egan

Novel

Number of words : 110000
Percent of complex words : 11.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 24.1


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 14.1
Flesch : 53.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 11.8


PEOPLE

Martin Seymour

An Australian foreign correspondent who gets an assignment in Tehran and ends up staying.

Nasim Golestani

An Iranian computer researcher in the USA who returns home after political changes. Also a cousin of Mahnoosh.

Javeed Seymour

Martin's young son.

Alice

A friend of Martin's.

Annie Lennox

Singer for the Eurythmics.

Liz

Martin's ex.

Peter Cook

A comedian and actor.

Haroun

A passenger on a flight who gives Martin music software advice.

Dariush Ansari

Founder of Hezb-e-Haalaa. Is killed.

Omar

Martin's neighbour and friend who will care for his son.

Hassan Jabari

A high-ranking Iranian jurist and politician who gets caught with a trans prostitute. Member of the Guardian Council.

Shoukouh

The trans prostitute whom Martin and Omar help.

Shah

A former ruler of Iran.

Ayatollah Khomeini

A former ruler of Iran.

Behrouz

Martin's fellow journalist, a local.

Kambiz

A student Martin met in the run-up to the election.

Zahra Amin

A reporter from the reformist weekly Emkaanha.

Fariba

A Tehran University student Martin interviews during a demonstration.

Majid

An accounting student demonstrator.

Jane Frampton

A science journalist and author of The Sociobiology of The Simpsons and The Metaphysics of Melrose Place.

Nate Caplan

A brilliant entrepreneur who approaches Nasim - fancies living forever via technology.

Professor John Redland

Faculty on the HCP.

Christopher

IT Tech support for the HCP.

Judith

Co-worker of Nasim's.

Mike

Co-worker of Nasim's. Recently dumped his girlfriend.

Shen

Co-worker of Nasim's.

Melville

An American author.

Proust

A French author.

Dinesh

A co-worker of Nasim's who comes up with HETE.

Sandra Knight

A foreign correspondent.

Mahnoosh

A march organiser who gives Martin information and later becomes his wife.

Rana

Omar's wife.

Mohsen

Rana's father-in-law.

Farshid

Rana and Omar's son.

Zachary Churchland

An octogenarian oil billionaire who had raised the possibility of funding his own brain-mapping project. Also fancies living forever via technology.

William S. Burroughs

An author.

Congressman Fitzwaller

Chairman of the Select Committee dealing with the HCP.

Kourosh Ansari

Brother of Dariush. Becomes President.

Mossadegh

An Iranian prime minister ousted by Churchill and Eisenhower and the CIA.

Karim

A young man who’d spotted Martin taking pictures near Abadan.

Nasim's mother

Left Iran when her husband was executed. Writes a book called After Oil and is headhunted by Kourosh Ansari as an adviser for the new Iran.

Donald Rumsfeld

Dodgy American politician.

Vin Diesel

An actor making a comeback The Chronicles of Kulos, to be shot in the Negev.

Robert Smith

Singer for The Cure.

Bahador

Nasim's chief engineer at Zendegi.

Nahid

Rana's mother-in-law.

Azimi

Iranian football captain and ex-player for Hoffenheim. Mapped as software for a Zendegi game as Virtual Azimi.

Gita Razavi

A critic for Generation 2012.

Michelle Bello

PR for the BSBSP.

Conrad Esch

Director for the BSBSP.

Farah, Chalipa, Asa and Azita

Women used in Nasim's Blank Fariba proxy testing.

Mark and Rachel

Australians who came to Martin's wedding.

Hojatoleslam Shahidi

An anti-AI cleric.

Dr Jobrani

Treats Martin's cancer.

Tim Ritchie

A 1980s 2JJJ presenter.

Reza

Man who buys Martin's shop on Enqelab Avenue to turn into a gym.

Solzhenitsyn

Russian author.

Dr Zahedi

Helps with the Martin proxy recording.

Jafar Falaki

Of Falaki Associates. Looks into the Zendegi security breach.

Arif Bahrani

A tech worker with Zendegi.

Milad

A Zendegi programmer.

Hamid

Nasim's ex-husband.

Bernard

Helped Martin with the scanning, planning on staying in Iran.

Rollo

The CHL hacker who meets with Nasim.

Ali and Zahra

A murdered Afghan family Martin knew in Bamyam Province.


MEDIA

Devo

A band.

The Residents

A band.

The Virgin Prunes

A band.

Elvis Costello

A singer and guitarist.

The Smiths

A band.

Eurythmics

A band.

Touch

A Eurythmics album.

Talking Heads

A band.

The Cure

A band.

The Pretenders

A band.

Paul Kelly

An Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist.

St Kilda to King's Cross

A Paul Kelly Song.

To Her Door

A Paul Kelly song about a break-up and reconciliation.

You Can't Take It With You

A Paul Kelly Song.

The Slave Girl and the Caliph

A story in Arabic.

Saturday Night Live

An American weekly comedy tv show.

Al Jazeera

Arab news channel.

IRIB

Iranian broadcaster.

You Can't Hurry Love

Song covered by Phil Collins.

Run Run Run

Hunters and Collectors song.

Dancing Queen

An ABBA song.

Hunters and Collectors

An Australian band.

Rusholme Ruffians

A Smiths song.

Teddy Bear

An Elvis Presley song.

Enter Sandman

A Metallica song.

LOLCat Diaries

A movie.

The Moor's Last Sigh

A Salman Rushdie novel.

U2

A band.

Shahnameh

A thousand year old Persian epic, popular in Zendegi. Martin and Javeed play this.

Murder in Manolos

A gossipy VR whodunnit set among North Tehran’s Mall Princess cliques.

Midnight Oil

An Australian band.

Carry Me

A Hunters and Collectors song.

Jailhouse Rock

A song covered by The Residents.

The Grapes of Wrath, Animal Farm, Catch-22, and Slaughterhouse-Five

Novels Martin chooses to keep dead tree versions of for his son as he sells his shop.

The Diary of Anne Frank, Down and Out in Paris and London, and The Gulag Archipelago

Non-fiction Martin chooses to keep dead tree versions of for his son as he sells his shop.

Harmony

A VR SF soap opera game.

Minions of Eblis

A Zendegi game.

Bedazzled

A Peter Cook deal with the devil movie.



TECHNOLOGY

Audacity

Open source sound editing software.

Groundhog Cage

Software Alice constructed that made thirty-day free-trial software think it was always on the first day of the trial.

Shalwar kameez

Iranian garment.

HCP

Human Connectome Project. A brain mapping project that Nasim worked on.

AcTach

A reality-mining plug-in that learns about academic networking using physical proximity, along with email and calling patterns.

Tinkle

A femtoblogging service going through a beta trial.

Murmur

A lower-level platform that Tinkle and AcTach run on.

Lichtman-Livet-Sanes ‘Brainbow’ technique

Making neurons that fluoresce.

ATLUM

An Automatic Tape-collecting Lathe Ultra Microtom. A brain peeler used for mapping the grey matter..

Human Excrement Treatment Ecosystems

The aim of the HETE project was to develop a whole portfolio of microbial communities that could render human waste safe in almost any situation, with an absolute minimum of labour and no expensive infrastructure.

Slightly Smart mobile phones

Can do mesh networking.

PowerFlirt and HookMeUp

Speed dating software that works via location of the person.

Zendegi

A mutiplayer online virtual reality that Nasim works for.

Cyber-ketab

An ebook reader.

Blank Frank

A new computer Proxy and AI Nasim works on using her old research, to make it more advanced and capable of better reactions.

Blank Fariba

As Blank Frank, but a female version.

Ghal'eha

VR stations people rent time on in shops.

Proxies

Computer generated characters in virtual reality.



ORGANISATIONS

Eikonometrics

Swiss company who want to see if they can classify images by flashing them on a monitor subliminally and looking at the viewer’s brain activity.

Hezb-e-Haalaa

Iranian political party. Literally the Party of Now.

Hezbollah

The ‘Party of God’.

Guardian Council

Fascist fundamentalist ruling body in Iran.

Majlis

Iranian political body.

VEVAK

The Iranian intelligence service.

Basijis

Iranian militia thugs.

Hungry Mind Cafe

Near the HCP.

House Select Committee

Group of US politicians that deal with a particular area of importance.

Anglo-Iranian Oil Company

Used to control Abadan.

MEK

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the People’s Army of Iran - a nationalist group formed in opposition to the Shah.

Ministry of the Interior

Iranian government department.

Iranian-American Friendship Council

Nate Caplan donates to them to try and get Nasim on side.

Benign Superintelligence Bootstrap Project

Wants to start off an AI singularity.

Alcor

A cryonics company. Have Zachary Churchland's corpsicle.

People of the Book

Martin's bookshop.

Cyber-Jahan

Succesful major VR competitor of Zendegi's.

Happy Universe

Another VR provider.

Crowds and Power

Games effect subcontractor.

CHL

The Cis-Humanist League. Opposes the Zendegi AI research and hacks the environment.

FLOPS House

A computing service provider in Europe.



PLACES

Tehran

Capital of Iran.

Changi Airport

In Singapore.

Glebe

Suburb of Sydney.

Valiasr Street

One of Tehran's main thoroughfares.

Quetta

Pakistan city.

Ferdowsi Square

Site of an election demonstration in Tehran.

Shiraz

Site of a big demonstration in Iran while Nasim is in the US.

Jomhuri-ye-Eslami Avenue

A broad, elegant street, with a stately row of fountains where it met Baharestan Square in Tehran.

Cinema Europa and Cinema Hafez

In Tehran.

Saf Street

A protest march detour.

Sa'di Station

In Tehran.

Reagan Airport

In Washington DC.

Abadan

Ansari's birth town. Fifty kilometres inland from the Persian Gulf.

Arvand River

Renamed Shatt al-Arab when you crossed it. Goes to Southern Iran. Upstream is Basra.

Evin Prison

On the line where the northern suburbs of Tehran gave way, abruptly, to the Alborz Mountains.

Khavaran Cemetery

Where Behrouz's murdered brother was buried.

Section 240

A political wing of Evin prison.

Karbala

City in Iraq.

Kashmir

Indian-Pakistani region.

Bamyan

A province in Afghanistan.

Houston

US city and site of an anti-AI terrorist attack.

Kabul

Capital of Afghanistan.


CONCEPTS

Farsi

Persian language.

Dari

The Afghani dialect of Farsi.

Noruz

The Persian New Year.

Urdu

Pakistani muslim language.

Femtoblogging

Like microblogging, only snappier. It tells everyone in your network where you are and how you’re feeling, once a minute.

Thirty-Second Pitch

A thought game about selling yourself to a company with outlandish ideas.

Bioinformatics

The application of statistics and computer science to the field of molecular biology.

Sufi

A religion.

Muezzin

Person who leads the call to prayer at a mosque.

Velayat-e-faqih

Religious role of Iranian clerics as guardians of society.

Simorgh

Mythological giant bird with a dog's head.

Zal

An infant the Simorgh thinks looks tasty but decides to rear instead.

News Five Point Oh

Current iteration of journalism in the 2020s.

HigherTribe

Worse than News Five Point Oh.

Ta'arof

Ritual of gift giving and refusal.

Toman

A toman was ten Iranian rials. Five million tomans was about ten thousand US dollars.


ANIMALS

Zebra finch

A type of small bird. Lots of them used in the HCP.


FOOD

Ragout

A stew.

Khoresht sabzi

An Iranian fried meat and vegetable dish. http://www.iranchamber.com/recipes/meat/khoresht_qormeh_sabzi.php



PLOT

A simpler book for Egan.

This one follows two characters. Martin, an Australian journalist and foreign correspondent in Iran, and Nasim, an Iranian researcher studying artificial intelligence in the USA.

While Martin is there a conservative Iranian politician is caught with a tranvestite hooker. An even which becomes a trigger for protest and for the reformers to bring enough pressure to bear on the corrupt power-hungry regime of the mullahs to force elections and constitutional change.

It then skips forward in time to where Martin has married an Iranian woman he met during this time, and they have a son. Nasim moved back to help with the new Iran, along with her mother, and now works for a virtual reality MMO called Zendegi. She is also a cousin of Martin's wife.

Other organisations work towards superintelligent AI.

A breakthrough leads her to putting some of her old academic research to use in building proxy personalities for use in gaming. When Martin's wife is killed in a car accident, and he is diagnosed with serious liver cancer, he asks for Nasim's help in trying to build a proxy personality of him to help raise his son, who is still under double figures.

As the sophistication of these artificial personalities grows, so does opposition to them - on both religious and 'you will put a lot of us out of work' grounds.



4 out of 5

Africa Zero - Neal Asher

Collector mammoth preservation wife cull.


4.5 out of 5

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Before They Were Giants - James L. Sutter

An odd idea for an anthology, pick a bunch of first stories from some writers. Not 'famous first stories' or anything, just first stories, whether they were written later or actually are 'juvenilia' as Stross calls his.

So several poor stories and a few average ones, too. Not what you want to build a reprint anthology around, some coming out as ordinary, on average.

There's a little extra here as each writer answers a set bunch of questions. The most entertaining perhaps about how Salvatore came up with his dark elf character off the cuff as his editor needed it for a sales meeting with a few minutes warning. Lots of this is 'who cares' for anyone not interested in being a writer - that is, most of us.

Before They Were Giants : Possible to Rue - Piers Anthony
Before They Were Giants : Destroyers - Greg Bear
Before They Were Giants : A Long Way Back - Ben Bova
Before They Were Giants : Just a Hint - David Brin
Before They Were Giants : Craphound - Cory Doctorow
Before They Were Giants : Fragments of a Hologram Rose - William Gibson
Before They Were Giants : Mirrors and Burnstone - Nicola Griffith
Before They Were Giants : Out of Phase - Joe Haldeman
Before They Were Giants : Highway 61 Revisited - China Miéville
Before They Were Giants : The Coldest Place - Larry Niven
Before They Were Giants : In Pierson's Orchestra - Kim Stanley Robinson
Before They Were Giants : The Guy with the Eyes - Spider Robinson
Before They Were Giants : A Sparkle for Homer - R. A. Salvatore
Before They Were Giants : The Boys - Charles Stross
Before They Were Giants : Ginungagap - Michael Swanwick

Roc me, dad.

2.5 out of 5


Destroy 'em. It pays.

3 out of 5


For power space station.

2.5 out of 5


Falling apart separately.

3 out of 5


A human and alien have a rivalry over trash and treasure and other market collecting.

4 out of 5


Movies feel real.

3 out of 5


Bye, Jinks.

3.5 out of 5


Massive death poetry to power.

3.5 out of 5


Nyookliah after communication.

3 out of 5


Ship brain Mercury trip.

3 out of 5


Master It.

2.5 out of 5


Will destroy us all, if not sleeping.

3.5 out of 5


Giant hobbit perv.

2 out of 5


Want to live here?

"Repeat after me: Death to the imperialist zionist ronin, the lackeys of neo-humanist cladisticians, and the discorporeate running-dog zaibatsu. I swear to follow the decree of the hezbollah and the shogunate in all things, to abide by the shari'a, to follow humility and modesty as a law for the rest of my natural life, and to refrain from acts of treason against the corporation ..."

Yeah, me either. The Posthuman Front don't sound like a fun bunch.

3 out of 5


Black hole alien visiting lady bomb is decapitated. Sense of self maintained, now becomes filthy rich spider liaision.

4.5 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

A Sparkle For Homer - R. A. Salvatore

Giant hobbit perv.


2 out of 5

Out Of Phase - Joe Haldeman

Massive death poetry to power.


3.5 out of 5

In Pierson's Orchestra - Kim Stanley Robinson

Master It.


2.5 out of 5

Highway 61 Revisited - China Mieville

Nyookliah after communication.


3 out of 5

Destroyers - Greg Bear

Destroy 'em. It pays.


3 out of 5

A Long Way Back - Ben Bova

For power space station.


2.5 out of 5

The Guy With the Eyes - Spider Robinson

Will destroy us all, if not sleeping.


3.5 out of 5

The Best Horror of the Year 2 - Ellen Datlow

Somewhat disappointing at around 3.25 for fiction quality, especially for a Year's Best.

However, the format is good - with the ever useful summary and Honorable Mentions - and given that anyone can buy this digitally, a useful reference. You are hardly likely to carry around large books like this to browse horror of interest, but ebook, no problem.

DRM free, great price, so very much still worth it.

The highlights are Laird Barron and Steve Duffy. Morris and Johnstone the best of the rest.

Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Lowland Sea - Suzy McKee Charnas
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The End of Everything - Steve Eller
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Mrs Midnight - Reggie Oliver
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : each thing I show you is a piece of my death - Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The Nimble Men - Glen Hirshberg
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : What Happens when you wake up in the night - Michael Marshall Smith
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Wendigo - Micaela Morrissette
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : In the Porches of My Ears - Norman Prentiss
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Lonegan's Luck - Stephen Graham Jones
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The Crevasse - Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The Lion's Den - Steve Duffy
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Lotophagi - Edward Morris
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfall - Kaaron Warren
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Dead Loss - Carole Johnstone
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Strappado - Laird Barron
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : The Lammas Worm - Nina Allan
Best Horror Of the Year 2 : Technicolor - John Langan

Red Sweat drink return.

3.5 out of 5


World full of zombies.

3.5 out of 5


Old Essex brain eating.

3 out of 5


Background Man movie kills.

3.5 out of 5


The trees didn't get us.

3 out of 5


Room changes.

3 out of 5


Dinner guests.

3 out of 5


Single movie.

2.5 out of 5


Too dead for buzzards.

3 out of 5


It got the dog.

3.5 out of 5


Loosed cooperation.

4 out of 5


Bearly ancestors.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire dogs too.

3 out of 5


Relict bait.

3.5 out of 5


Blue door or red no acid barrel of laughs.

4 out of 5


Grub birth.

3 out of 5


Prosper-Poe. No.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Lammas Worm - Nina Allen

Grub birth.


3 out of 5

Dead Loss - Carole Johnstone

Relict bait.


3.5 out of 5

Shine - Jetse De Vries

An anthology that was better than I thought it would be, given the lineup and being original, coming out at a very nice 3.59. Or somewhere between 4.25 and 4.5, basically. Impressively done. Kudos to Solaris too, for giving this a shot when generally speaking, the usual multinational offshoots just will not anymore. One thing that is a shame, is no ebook, so would have bought this twice! However, to partially alleviate that there is an excellent associated website. There are links to a couple of stories online (Yunye and Kenyon) anda podcast of the Tidhar piece. Plus some other excerpts and supporting stories of similar quality.

However, it also includes some twitter microstories of relevance, and introductions from an editor that is passionate about the project, which makes it even more pleasant to read. Also some non-fiction references.

Also, the settings range around the world, something that American editors, deliberately or not, often have great problems with. Therefore, we clearly need more Dutch editors. :)

Plus, it has Alastair Reynolds. And his story is extremely funny, and rather different to all the others, so a definitely excellent change of pace work in the middle, there.

Interestingly, he says most of the writers around are pathetically incapable of writing a story along these lines - which is odd, given as they say, ideas are a dime a dozen.

Anyway, just about a textbook example of how to do it, I think, compared to the usual hopelessness from Penguin or Macmillan or whoever that are so uselessly unprofessional they cannot even manage a table of contents.

I thought this book would be decent - so when it hits around the excellent mark and is a great price currently you really should buy it.

Having read hundreds of anthologies it isn't often that I want to revisit one soon afterwards, Shine is definitely one such.

Shine : The Earth of Yunhe - Eric Gregory
Shine : The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up Up Up - Jacques Barcia
Shine : Overhead - Jason Stoddard
Shine : Summer Ice - Holly Phillips
Shine : Sustainable Development - Paula R. Stiles
Shine : The Church of Accelerated Redemption - Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard
Shine : The Solnet Ascendancy - Lavie Tidhar
Shine : Twittering the Stars - Mari Ness
Shine : Seeds - Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Shine : At Budokan - Alastair Reynolds
Shine : Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic - Gord Sellar
Shine : Scheherazade Caught in Starlight - Jason Andrew
Shine : Russian Roulette 2020 - Eva Maria Chapman
Shine : Castoff World - Kay Kenyon
Shine : Paul Kishosha's Children - Kenn Edgett
Shine : Ishin - Madeline Ashby

Metanation seed.

4 out of 5


Posthuman plan power lack.

3.5 out of 5


Lunar Last Resort.

4 out of 5


Parked fountain.

3.5 out of 5


Robots. Smashing.

3.5 out of 5


AI uplift thinktank recruit.

3.5 out of 5


Vanuatu tech leapfrog.

3.5 out of 5


Iridium fetching alien bacteria eating surprise.

4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Ishin - Madeleine Ashby

Tink mission prediction outgrowth.


4 out of 5

Paul Kishosha’s Children - Ken Edgett

One Martian, one Leopard. Lotta clay.


3.5 out of 5

Russian Roulette 2020 - Eva Maria Chapman

Peace and youtube for Giant Chicken girl's church thug problem.


3.5 out of 5

The Gaze Dogs Of Nine Waterfall - Kaaron Warren

Vampire dogs too.


3 out of 5

Scheherazade Caught In Starlight - Jason Andrew

Iran election equality stories.


3 out of 5

Sarging Rasmussen: A Report By Organic - Gord Sellar

Gaming pickup upgrade.


3.5 out of 5

At Budokan - Alastair Reynolds

Dinosaurs rock more than zombies or robots.


4.5 out of 5

Seeds - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Fungus the cornyman.


3.5 out of 5

Twittering the Stars - Mari Ness

Iridium fetching alien bacteria eating surprise.


4 out of 5

Lotophagi - Edward Morris

Bearly ancestors.


3.5 out of 5

The Church of Accelerated Redemption - Gareth L. Powell and Aliette De Bodard

AI uplift thinktank recruit.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sustainable Development - Paula R. Stiles

Robots. Smashing.


3.5 out of 5

Summer Ice - Holly Phillips

Parked fountain.


3.5 out of 5

The Lion's Den - Steve Duffy

Loosed cooperation.


4 out of 5

Overhead - Jason Stoddard

Lunar Last Resort.


4 out of 5

The Greenman Watches The Black Bar Go Up Up Up - Jacques Barcia

Posthuman plan power lack.


3.5 out of 5

The Earth of Yunhe - Eric Gregory

Metanation seed.


4 out of 5

The Crevasse - Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud

It got the dog.


3.5 out of 5

Lonegan's Luck - Stephen Graham Jones

Too dead for buzzards.


3 out of 5

In the Porches of My Ears - Norman Prentiss

Single movie.


2.5 out of 5

Wendigo - Micaele Morrissette

Dinner guests.


3 out of 5

What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night - Michael Marshall Smith

Room changes.


3 out of 5

Mrs Midnight - Reggie Oliver

Old Essex brain eating.


3 out of 5

The End of Everything - Steve Eller

World full of zombies.


3.5 out of 5

Lowland Sea - Suzy McKee Charnas

Red Sweat drink return.


3.5 out of 5

Shadow's Son - Jon Sprunk

A bland fantasy about a pretty non-reflective assassin.

Very little of interest in this book about assassin bloke who rescues a princess - and seems to have had a personality bypass beforehand.

The Shadow part comes from the fact that he seems to have a tame version of sorts of Jackie Estacado's Darkness.

This is really throwback middle of the road stuff you can happily skip.


2.5 out of 5

Friday, November 19, 2010

23 Hours - David Wellington

Women in prison with vampires.

And one of them is a cop.

That has to have a horror writer cackling into his absinthe.

Laura Caxton is in the slammer for abuse and extra-legal taking of a federal witness and vampire wannabe. Despite getting the job done and killing her old mentor.

Her girlfriend and old partner Glauer and are still working for the bureaucrat marshal, who isn't getting any closer to Malvern, the oldest vampire alive. He is also getting lots of people killed.

When Clara visits Laura, Malvern has them both where she wants them, and springs her suborn the warden and play with Caxton games. Which involves eating a goodly percentage of the prisoners and the screws. None of whom are inclined to take Caxton's advice that she can actually save them from being slaughtered by vampires and their half-dead minions if they listen.

None of whom except her baby-killing cellmate Gert, that is.

Maybe the best of the four Caxton books so far.


3.5 out of 5

Vampire Zero - David Wellington

Laura Caxton's mentor Jameson had himself made into a vampire so he could clean out the small Civil War vampire army that had invaded. He then said he'd let Laura shoot him.

He lied.

So now Caxton has an even more dangerous enemy - her old mentor. Now capable of creating more vampires, and possessing the three hundred year old rotting corpose Malven, he is going around with his version of Let's Make A Deal.

To all his family he offers - join me in vampire-ness, or die. 24 hours you have.

One Special Deputy Marshal, hamstrung by a by-the-book anal-retentive bureaucrat boss can't save them all. Plus killing her old boss, who is smart enough to wear body armour to protect his one vulnerable spot, and even use weapons if he feels like it - might just be impossible.

Unless they throws him into some sort of inferno.


3.5 out of 5

99 Coffins - David Wellington

Laura Caxton is now the most proficient vampire hunter, because her mentor was seriously injured in the previous encounter, losing the fingers from one hand and now not being much too much use in a fight - and also getting rather long in the tooth.

An archaeological dig at Gettysburg uncovers a nasty leftover - a group of vampire coffins. The tale of this is told in flashback short chapters interspersed with the present day tale.

The foolish academics in charge reunite one of them with his heart - and he sets out to raise the rest - leaving Caxton rallying troops to fight a small scale anti-vampire war, with a denouement if you can't beat them, then join them to beat them.


3.5 out of 5

13 Bullets - David Wellington

An aging vampire hunter and US marshal spots a protege many years later - a Pennsylvania traffic cop.

She manages to survive an initial encounter with these monsters that after they have just fed on blood are amazingly fast, strong and extremely hard to kill without specialised weaponry.

Vampire hunting soon becomes her job, basically, given her superiors are aware of the problem. This, however, attracts their interest and costs in a big way.

To kill a vampire you have to destroy its hart, or wait until they get old and helpless, which, interestingly, they do faster than humans do - they just don't actually die of old age.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Spy Who Haunted Me - Simon R. Green

More of the same for Shaman Bond as he kicks names and takes arses, or heads, or hearts, or whatever he needs to do.

You have Philadelphia Experiments into Faerie, good old-fashioned Wildstorm style science cities trying to produce superhumans (and of course getting everybody killed in the process) .

All hung around the search for The Independent Agent, leading some up and coming spy types like Eddie Drood, the CIA, etc. so they can find his Trove.

Interestingly, this crossed over with the Nightside, and features Walker as one of the major minor characters hanging around with our Shaman Bond as they are put through their paces.


3.5 out of 5

The Tree Lord of Imeten - Tom Purdom

A group of human colonists on a planet have a disagreement.

They banish a man from their midst, and his wife goes with him, after they make a deal for some supplies in order to stop a violent conflict.

Violent conflict is still what they get, though, as they land in the middle of a conflict between two alien races - one a group of tree dwellers - the others, more four-legged and non-violent.

When our protagonists realise the tree dwellers enslave the others for labor - they take their side - and their hands and ability to make tools lets their new friends arm themselves - and put their inventive minds to work in coming up with ways for paws and mouths to help in engineering and tool use.

An armed conflict erupts which puts pressure on one group of the slavers, as continued losses of life caused by their former targets will eventually weaken them enough so that they can be conquered by another group of their own.


3.5 out of 5

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures - Robert E. Howard

A collection of stories of the swords, guns and Khans variety. Amoral adventurers, spies, and Americans pretending to not be.

The appendix has an in depth discussion of the characters, which is very interesting.

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Swords of the Hills - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : The Daughter of Erlik Khan - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Three-Bladed Doom - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Hawk of the Hills - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Blood of the Gods - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Sons of the Hawk - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Son of the White Wolf - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Gold from Tatary - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Swords of Shahrazar - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : The Trail of the Blood-Stained God - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : The Fire of Asshurbanipal - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Three-Bladed Doom [novella] - Robert E. Howard
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures : Untitled Fragment - Robert E. Howard


El Borak gets a hand, and gets a bit tied up on a courier mission.

3 out of 5


El Borak still has lots of people after him, but he has a plan. Not to mention a Conan type rescue of a Khan's daughter to pull off. He, however, has guns.

3.5 out of 5


Asian takeover Assassin Tower.

El Borak becomes embroiled in a plot to gain power. Along the way he has a girl in a hashish garden to rescue, a valley of djin to survive, a giant Snow Ape to defeat, and more.

This all leads to the bloody mayhem of a siege, faced by assassins led by a Cossack enemy.

Much carnage, swords, and guns.

4 out of 5


Khan conflict has El Borak bloody angry.

3 out of 5


Dodgy blokes and Arabs bring El Borak gunplay by wellside.

3 out of 5


A dying man's request leads another to seek El Borak's help, and get into a lot of danger.

3 out of 5


A return to roots rebellion has El Borak in the middle of things, but with a spook woman to liven things up a bit more than they already are.

3.5 out of 5



Kindjahl and scimitar work for Kirby O'Donnell in Shahrazar.

3 out of 5


Kirby O'Donnell and fellow adventurers find out who is least principled in the quest for a fabulous idol.

3.5 out of 5


If you suspect a priceless gemstone with a magic-type name may be connected to cthulhoid alien monsters, well, I would suggest that trying to rob your local jewellery store bare-handed is a less hazardous activity than the acquisition of such an artifact.

4 out of 5


This is the novella version of the earlier El Borak novel, with a shopped off ending - it isn't as good.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Untitled Fragment Feel the Edge - Robert E. Howard

Or that dog Kirby O'Donnell is in danger of having nasty things done to his toenails and other bits.


3.5 out of 5

Three-Bladed Doom novella - Robert E. Howard

This is the novella version of the earlier El Borak novel, with a shopped off ending - it isn't as good.


3.5 out of 5

The Trail Of The Blood-stained God - Robert E. Howard

Kirby O'Donnell and fellow adventurers find out who is least principled in the quest for a fabulous idol.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swords of Shahrazar - Robert E. Howard

Kirby O'Donnell and his men are trapped between a covetous outlaw and a spy mission.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 419 - Sheila Williams

A decent and consistent issue, with nothing of particular note. You can get the novel that Warfriends by Tom Purdom is a sequel to at Fictionwise.

An article by Silverberg about Kornbluth.

If you were just going to pick one, I'd read the Bossert.

Asimov's 418 : PLUS OR MINUS - James Patrick Kelly
Asimov's 418 : LIBERTARIAN RUSSIA - Michael Swanwick
Asimov's 418 : SINS OF THE FATHER - Sara Genge
Asimov's 418 : FREIA IN THE SUNLIGHT - Gregory Norman Bossert
Asimov's 418 : VARIATIONS - Ian Werkheiser
Asimov's 418 : EXCELLENCE - Robert Reed
Asimov's 418 : THE PRIZE BEYOND GOLD - Ian Creasey
Asimov's 418 : UNCLE E - Carol Emshwiller
Asimov's 418 : WARFRIENDS - Tom Purdom

Crewmonkeys, lacking oxygen.

3.5 out of 5


An enhanced fantasy.

3.5 out of 5


Merman adjustment.

3 out of 5


Beautiful smart missile.

3.5 out of 5


Dead music dad.

3 out of 5


Starting from nothing, run.

3.5 out of 5


100m sprint record, wings?

3.5 out of 5


Will bring food and take care of dead mum in the bedroom.

3 out of 5


Fighting deal.

3.5 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Warfriends - Tom Purdom

Fighting deal.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, November 15, 2010

Uncle E - Carol Emshwiller

Will bring food and take care of dead mum in the bedroom.


3 out of 5

The Prize Beyond Gold - Ian Creasey

100m sprint record, wings?


3.5 out of 5

Excellence - Robert Reed

Starting from nothing, run.


3.5 out of 5

Variations - Ian Werkheiser

Dead music dad.


3 out of 5

Freia In The Sunlight - Gregory Norman Bossert

Beautiful smart missile.


3.5 out of 5

Sins Of the Father - Sara Genge

Merman adjustment.


3 out of 5

Libertarian Russia - Michael Swanwick

An enhanced fantasy.


3.5 out of 5

Plus Or Minus - James Patrick Kelly

Crewmonkeys, lacking oxygen.


3.5 out of 5

Analog 955 - Stanley Schmidt

An ordinary type issue, with an article on solar system formation likelihood among others. Not much over a three average thanks to the extremely lame writer probability zero.

Analog 955 : THE MAN FROM DOWNSTREAM - Shane Tourtellote
Analog 955 : THE HEBRAS AND THE DEMONS AND THE DAMNED - Brenda Cooper
Analog 955 : DECA-DAD - Ron Collins
Analog 955 : SPELL CZECH - William Michael McCarthy
Analog 955 : HAPPY ARE THE BUNYIPS - Carl Frederick
Analog 955 : A PLACEBO EFFECT - Brian C. Coad
Analog 955 : HOME IS WHERE THE HUB IS - Christopher L. Bennett
Analog 955 : PRIMUM NON NOCERE - H. G. Stratmann

Going back Roman.

3 out of 5


Predator prey colonist diplomacy.

3.5 out of 5


Transfer gate job.

3 out of 5


No editor.

2 out of 5


First contact zoo test.

3.5 out of 5


Villain or hero for the country.

3 out of 5


Dead Scout or not.

3.5 out of 5


ELF undercover MLM have doughnut and eat them too agent.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Primum Non Nocere - H. G. Strattman

ELF undercover MLM have doughnut and eat them too agent.


3.5 out of 5

Home Is Where The Hub Is - Christopher L. Bennett

Dead Scout or not.


3.5 out of 5

The Placebo Effect - Brian C. Coad

Villain or hero for the country.


3 out of 5

Happy Are The Bunyips - Carl Frederick

First contact zoo test.


3.5 out of 5

Spell Czech - William Michael McCarthy

No editor.


2 out of 5

Deca-dad - Ron Collins

Transfer gate job.


3 out of 5

The Hebras And The Demons And The Damned - Brenda Cooper

Predator prey colonist diplomacy.


3.5 out of 5

The Man From Downstream - Shane Tourtellote

Going back Roman.


3 out of 5

The Dervish House - Ian McDonald

A novel with a short timeframe, following the events of a week in Istanbul. The story follows several characters.

A dodgy finance trader and his dodgy art dealer wife.
A young boy with a heart condition and a nanotech shapeshifting pet toy.
A Greek retired professor of economics.
A youth with a trouble violent past.
A fresh out of business college young woman.

A suicide bomber detonates on a tram in odd circumstances - the only person killed is herself. As the story unfolds the various strands of the book link together. The troubled youth was at the scene, affected by the nanotechnology delivery that the bomb was for. The young boy notices a robot watching the scene and begins to track down some information. The professor is a friend of his, taken a grandfatherly interest in the young lad and realises he has discovered something disturbing.

The dodgy trader and his mates are planning a short term gas price coup when they find out the company they work for is ridiculously insolvent - and are also the company that our young marketer has approached as a financier for the nanotech dna information writing project the two young men who have hired her have going.

And a gas pipeline is the final target for the terrorists who snatch the troubled youth to test the effects of their ideological conversion nanotech.

The problem with having so many disparate sections is that it feels somewhat fractured at times, compared to say, Brasyl, which does get a bit annoying.

A good book though.


4 out of 5

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Terminal World - Alastair Reynolds

Martian gate fix.

An Angel plummets to the lower levels of Spearpoint, the last city on Earth. Not literally, as the angels are not supernatural, and Earth is not. You pick this up as you realise some odd things - a 'split moon', that the circumference of the planet is smaller than it should be, that a terraforming project is failing, etc. In a few thousand years that would not happen to our planet. Plus, a couple of space elevators.

The title has two meanings then, that of a dying world, and that of one hosting an Earthgate to the stars, thanks to a space elevator or two.

Most of the characters seemed to be named after bits of edged weaponry. Although if you unscramble Curtana's name, you get un carta, too. The captain of the Swarm fleet. Called the Sky Princess by Quillon's escort. She is, of course, a Space Princess in that sense, being Martian. Whether Reynolds chose that name to unscramble like that as an extra nod to Burroughs, who knows.

The space elevator at Spearpoint's characteristics make it more than it looks - to travel along it you need to take drugs to survive going from zone to zone, and the technology levels also change, a la Grimjack's Cynosure. Down far enough, it is horses and flintlocks for you, sonny jim.

Quillon, who finds the 'fallen angel' is also not what he seems - an angel himself, and an experiment in infiltration for those Celestial Level dwellers - to see if they can pass and adapt long-term to living in another zone. Which again takes modification and a lot of drugs to prevent reverting to avian-like form. The worsening instabilities means everything will collapse into complete chaos and carnage if nothing can be done.

Zonal instabilities are worsening, and Quillon ends up leaving Spearpoint and venturing into dangerous realms of skullboys and carnivorgs, and the Swarm - a city-fleet of airships. Here he meets a mother and her daughter - the latter having a strange power to change these zones. Called a tectomancer, they are generally accused of being witches. After dissension with their new Swarm allies they realise she needs to go to Spearpoint, to take her place in the machine and try and start to put things back in livable conditions again.


4 out of 5

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zendegi - Greg Egan

A simpler book for Egan.

This one follows two characters. Martin, an Australian journalist and foreign correspondent in Iran, and Nasim, an Iranian researcher studying artificial intelligence in the USA.

While Martin is there a conservative Iranian politician is caught with a tranvestite hooker. An even which becomes a trigger for protest and for the reformers to bring enough pressure to bear on the corrupt power-hungry regime of the mullahs to force elections and constitutional change.

It then skips forward in time to where Martin has married an Iranian woman he met during this time, and they have a son. Nasim moved back to help with the new Iran, along with her mother, and now works for a virtual reality MMO called Zendegi. She is also a cousin of Martin's wife.

A breakthrough leads her to putting some of her old academic research to use in building proxy personalities for use in gaming. When Martin's wife is killed in a car accident, and he is diagnosed with serious liver cancer, he asks for her help in trying to build a proxy personality of him to help raise his son, who is still under double figures.

As the sophistication of these artificial personalities grows, so does opposition to them - on both religious and 'you will put a lot of us out of work' grounds.

Call it a not-quite 4.


4 out of 5

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heroes In the Wind - Robert E. Howard

A collection of Howard tales, featuring his sword and sorcery work in the main, but with some horror examples, and, oddly, a Western. Vultures would seem to be out of place, here.

Almost the 4.0 average, so you really can't get much better than that unless you pick them yourself.

There's an introduction by John Clute, the compiler of this collection.

Heroes In the Wind : The Shadow Kingdom - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Kings of the Night - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Worms of the Earth - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : The Dark Man - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : The Footfalls Within - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Pigeons from Hell - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Graveyard Rats - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Vultures of Wahpeton - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : The Tower of the Elephant - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Queen of the Black Coast - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : A Witch Shall Be Born - Robert E. Howard
Heroes In the Wind : Red Nails - Robert E. Howard


There is evil treachery afoot in the time of Atlantis, the serpent priests are stirring, and a cunning old king brings them to the attention of a somewhat restless Kull. More pity them. With a stalwart Pictish spear-slayer at his side, he wreaks bloody havoc among them, and vows to take the war to them. No-one else would ever have copied this plot later on, would they?

4 out of 5


Introspection and philosophy are not cures for what ails a bored warrior-King. Neither are wizardly mirrors or Lovecraftian elder races.

Thankfully, the stout, pragmatic Spear-Slayer is there to remind him.

4 out of 5


Bran Mak Morn has leadership problems. Wulfhere's Northerners will not follow him, or Cormac, prince of Erin, they demand a King. Consulting with Gonar, who talks to his ancestor in Kull's time, and summons Kull, King of Valusia! Kull likes Bran, as he reminds him of Brule, and agrees to lead the Northerners. Wulfhere challenges him to combat. Big mistake for Wulfhere.

With Kull's help, Bran manages to hold the Romans for now, at some significant cost.

4 out of 5


One of Bran Mak Morn's subjects is being crucified while he is visiting some Roman commanders. This does not sit well with him or his aide, as he feels the punishment does not fit the crime, and the Romans are making a joke of doing what they will with the barbarians.

Bran has a plan for revenge on the Roman who gave the order, but Gonar cautions him against using mystic means. Bran ignores here, and seeks the Black Stone with the help of a were-woman. What he unleashes is a lot more than he bargained for.

4 out of 5


Turlogh Dubh O'Brien gets some inspiration from Bran Mak Morn in beach side battle.

3.5 out of 5


Kane is following a band of slavers, and is unable to help himself when he sees them stop and start to whip a girl to death. Despatching many, he is overcome by the dozens of others, and forced to march as a slave.

A nasty supernatural end awaits his captors, where his possession of the Bast-headed staff of N'Longa in the past is no bad thing.

4 out of 5


A man is murdered, and in no ordinary fashion. When law enforcement investigates this is the story he gets from a witness:

"and my God, sir, he was dead! His head had been split open. I saw brains and clotted blood oozing down his face, and his face,,,"

It appears there is a zuvembie in town, the long awaited aftermatch of a property that had white women mistreating their black slaves, badly.

4 out of 5


Turlogh Dubh O'Brien gets some inspiration from Bran Mak Morn in beach side battle.

3.5 out of 5


The titular bunch are a gang of murderers, and they have their eyes on half a million in gold.

3 out of 5


Conan is in thieving mode here. In a tavern, he is asking the assembled crowd of nogoodniks why no-one has stolen a famous jewel from this tower.

They tell him because it is guarded by some very nasty things.

He, of course, investigates, and meets a master thief attempting the same thing.

Humans, animals, a giant spider and a wizard are to be encountered, not to mention an alien.

4 out of 5


One of the classic Conan stories. The barbarian goes a-reavin', and finds another of the rare women that can match him. Belit has fire, and presence, and command, but again, it does not end well. Highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5


A bad problem to have - how do you tell which of two women is the very evil twin. Luckily, our favorite barbarian is a very pragmatic man.


4 out of 5


Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil, leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5




5 out of 5