Feb. 16th, 2017

thewayne: (Default)
2016 was also a good year for books with 47 read! With few exceptions, they were mostly ebooks on my iPad Mini and few were short and few were re-reads.

3/08 Vietnam and Other Alien Worlds, Joe Haldeman
3/13 A Call To Duty, Manticore Ascendant 1, Weber/Zahn
3/20 Three Slices, Kevin Hearne, Delilah Dawson, Chuck Wendig
3/23 Shattered, Hearne

4/02 Expanded Universe vol 1, Heinlein
4/03 Staked, Kevin Hearne
4/15 A Call To Arms, Manticore Ascendant 2, Weber/Zahn
4/19 Standing Next To History, Joseph Petro

5/? Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
5/14 Those Who Hunt The Night, Barbara Hambly
5/22 The Forever War, Joe Haldeman (rr)
5/25 Dial M for Merde, Stephen Clarke

6/02 Bulldog Drummond, HC McNeile
6/16 The End of All Things, John Scalzi
6/19 Lock In, John Scalzi
6/19 Orbital Decay, Allen Steele
6/27 The Elskar Saga, S.T. Bende

I’m not going to talk about them all, because honestly, I really don’t remember a lot of details. Too much time has passed: I REALLY need to do these lists with greater frequency!

So jumping through the lists a bit, we’ll started with Kevin Hearne’s Shattered, the not quite most recent Iron Druid book. This actually came out in ‘15 – I found out that Staked came out: I picked it up, started it, and realized that I was missing a substantial part of the narrative – i.e. I was missing a book. I looked around and found my copy of Staked, apparently I’d started it, something happened and I put it down and forgot about it. I finished it, and that put me in a position to read Staked and get me caught up in the series.

Three Slices is a set of three short stories, including a Hearne Iron Druid story, and they all include cheese as a main plot point. All three stories were quite fun.

Standing Next To History by Joseph Petro is, I guess, an autobiography. Petro is now a retired Secret Service agent who served on the Presidential Protection Detail during the Reagan administration. It was an interesting book. I learned of it many moons ago and acquired a used paperback of it, it sat around for ages and I finally dedicated myself to reading it. I learned a lot about the PPD and the way they work is quite interesting. If you have an interest and an opportunity to acquire this book, I’d recommend it. It’s a fairly quick read.

Seveneves is Neal Stephenson’s latest mega-work. I personally think he is incapable of writing a story that is under 400 pages. The story starts in contemporary times and is fairly straightforward: something causes the moon to explode. No one knows what, it just happens. Initially it just cracks up in to a few large pieces, then an astronomer realizes that this spells the end of the Earth. He starts working the math and proves that in just a few years that the end result will be the larger pieces will smash in to each other, producing smaller pieces, rinse and repeat, ad infinitum, and those pieces orbits are going to decay and eventually superheat the atmosphere and incinerate the surface of the planet. The book then becomes a race against the clock to get as many people in to orbit to produce a viable population to eventually repopulate the planet. Chaos ensues. I found it to be quite a read. While I’ll chide Stephenson for producing mega-tomes, but he really does superb long plots.

Those Who Hunt The Night by Barbara Hambley was an interesting read. I don’t normally go for vampire fiction, I’m not by and large a horror fan but the premise was interesting. Set in Edwardian London, an Oxford professor who used to be an agent for the Crown, is forced to help the vampires of London figure out who is murdering them. I liked the concept of a person so utterly out-classed by the supernatural being the only one who can save them. All in all, a good read.

Joe Haldeman’s Forever War is one of the earliest science fiction books that I can remember reading, and it is always on my occasional re-read lists. He gets Newtonian physics in zero-G correct, he gets Einsteinian relativity right: it’s just a great read. It was written as sort of a rebuttal to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and I think it’s every bit as good, if not better. One of these days I really need to re-read the rest of the series.

Dial M For Merde. I’d never heard of Stephen Clarke before, and I don’t normally read mysteries. But the blurb for this one caught my attention, and I have to admit that the title definitely was one of the reasons that I spent any time reading the blurb. The protagonist is a Brit running a catering business in France (!) and gets caught up in a Green Peace/smuggling ring revolving around a very upper class wedding? You would almost expect Inspector Clouseau to drop in. It was a lot of fun, and the food descriptions were fantastic, as were the descriptions of the French countryside. I really should look for some more of his books.

Bulldog Drummond. In all my years of reading things like Doc Savage and The Shadow, I’ve never read things like Drummond. So I finally did. It was interesting and fun, I may continue the series, but it’s not a priority.

Lock In. This is a new series by John Scalzi, best known for his Old Man’s War series. Lock In is an actual syndrome (which has had some recent developments!) where people are in what looks like a coma state, but they’re actually fully aware of what’s going on around them. They’re incapable of responding to stimuli. The recent development is that doctors and scientists have been able to map subtle changes in blood pressure and pulse and gotten locked-in patients to answer yes/no questions! Pretty amazing stuff. ANYWAY, in this book, a disease has swept the world and resulted in a lot of deaths. It initially appeared as the flu, and people thought little of it as lots of people get the flu. But there was a second component – if you survived, a year or two later there was a chance that you might develop this locked-in syndrome! It became quite a catastrophe requiring a major change in the work force with all of these victims requiring more medical care. The world responded when the extremely popular First Lady of the United States became a locked-in patient. Eventually roboticists and cyberneticists developed remote units that again allowed patients freedom. This book revolves around on such patient who becomes an FBI agent involved in an investigation of the murder of locked-in patients. I found the story quite interesting: it’s been optioned for a television pilot and has two audiobooks: one read by Wil Wheaton, one by Amber Benson! Recommended.

Orbital Decay is an Orwellian book set in a not too distant future. A space station is being constructed by ‘beamjacks’, zero-G welders, and a module currently attached is being run by three men who are unacknowledged to be part of the NSA. Eventually it becomes known that when everything becomes fully operational, the module will be able to suck up EVERY electronic conversation in the United States to allow continuous eavesdropping. A small group of the beamjacks cannot let this stand and begin making plans to get around management and expose the government plans….

The Elskar Saga. I apparently have the occasional need to read some YA trash, and this was my itch being scratched. A young American college girl finds herself attracted to the hunkiest hunk at her college in Wales, turns out he’s a Viking, as in part of Odin’s army, an assassin destined to fight in the battle of Ragnarok. And Loki’s taken an interest in her, apparently she has a role to play in said battle that no one has foreseen. It was pulpy YA teen romance fantasy pulp (yes, I said pulp twice), mindless popcorn-chewing silliness. Still, I read it. Lots of silliness, interesting take on the Odinverse.
thewayne: (Default)
(I heard the line reading a comment in a news post yesterday and I just loved it!)

Anyway, he held a live press conference that was carried on NPR, and out of curiosity I listened to it while driving to the car wash today. He was completely incapable of directly answering a question. And it was interesting.

The one thing that struck me was that he is still campaigning! Every answer referenced the same shit that he spewed during the campaign! Every answer mentioned Hillary, when asked about his response to the Russian planes buzzing American warships or the Russian spy ship near the Massachusetts submarine yards, it was straight out of the campaign. 'I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to be Mister Unpredictable!'

He even said, and this is almost a direct quote, "I guess I'm a politician now! I can't believe I'm saying that!"

Does he understand he won and that he's now perhaps the most powerful man in the world and that he holds the fate of our country and many others in his tiny little hands?

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