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Book Reads in March, 2018 April 3, 2018

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut, review.
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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my March, 2018 reads.

*****
Books Read in March, 2018

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (r)

Finch by Jeff VanderMeer

Torg Eternity Core Rules by Shane Lacy Hensley, Darrell Hayhurst, et. al.
(RPG)

Torg Eternity GM Screen by Various (RPG)

Maureen Birnbaum Barbarian Swordsperson, The Complete Stories by George Alec Effinger (r)

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

February, 2018 Locus

The Tears of Ampharool QuickStart Rules and Introductory Adventure by Raphael Bardas, Francois Cedelle, Nadege Debray, Yann Zachary and Sarah Newton (RPG)

March, 2018 Reader’s Digest
*****

And those were my reads in the month of March. Not a lot of reading in the month, bt what I did read was entertaining enough though some of it was a bit tedious, to be honest. Once again, it’s been very difficult for me to actually hold a book in my hands or to lean one against my hands over the past few months due to the problems I’m having with my left shoulder/neck/arm and spine. Add to that the fact that I’m editing stuff, and that explains it…just very incapacitated, or just very busy.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey – The first book in the Expanse series. This book is an intrigue-filled mystery to be honest, with two mystery plots going on simultaneously, which converge before the halfway mark of this large volume. By the end of the book, the story has turned into something else and there’s a bit of everything going on here, with two central characters (Miller and Holden) who are both well-written and well-defined. That said, the book is somewhat long for my taste, and the writing is uneven in places, but the story is just so riveting for the most part. Recommended.

Torg Eternity Core Rules by Shane Lacy Hensley, Darrell Hayhurst, et. al.
(RPG) – The original Torg: The Possibility Wars Roleplaying Game came out over 25 years ago, and had a devoted following, including me. The folks at Ulisses Spiele US have done a bang-up job redefining Torg for the modern day, and while most of the game mechanics are familiar and offer some changes and additions, the game plays even better than it used to, for the most part. With a good slew of adventures already available for the game, I recommend Torg Eternity for folks who want to get into multi-cosmic games that involve the invasion of Earth by different realities.

The rest of the books that I read (and re-read) in March, 2018 were all pretty good, but these two stood out the most for the month.

Overall, I managed to read 5 novels, 3 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in March. Since this is the early part of the year still, it brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 18 books, 6 RPGs and RPG products, 5 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

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Book Reads in February, 2018 March 5, 2018

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Got delayed in writing this up for the month, but better late than never. πŸ™‚

As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my February, 2018 reads.

*****
Books Read in February, 2018

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Scourge of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (r)

December, 2017 Locus

January/February, 2018 Reader’s Digest

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Chronicle of Secret Riven by Ronlyn Domingue

January, 2018 Locus

John Carter of Mars Roleplaying Game Quickstart Rules and Adventure by Jack Norris (RPG) (PDF)

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (r)
*****

And those were my reads in the month of February. This was one of the slowest months of reading that I’ve had but there have been several of these over the last few months. The fact of the matter is that it’s been very difficult for me to actually hold a book in my hands or to lean one against my hands over the past few months due to the problems I’m having with my left shoulder/neck/arm and spine. Add to that the fact that I’m editing stuff, and that explains it.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Scourge of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler – The third book in the Legends of Muirwood, this book is a good read and a fitting end to the trilogy of novels. One of the things I’ve noticed about this series is that it’s “early Wheeler,” as in the fact that these are some of the first books that he wrote and it shows. Scourge is the book where he finally reaches his stride, developing his own style, but what really struck me about this one is the sense of danger that always hangs over his protagonist, Lia, and it ratchets up the tension in the book. It’s not just that the danger is all around Lia, however, as it’s hanging over the heads of *all* the characters in the book in one fashion or another. Add to that the fact that the danger that faces all threatens the entire world, and that gives the book more nuance. However, there are also some personal plots that Lia needs to resolve, and these are handled very nicely amidst everything else going on. Highly recommended.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs – All right, I admit it, I’m biased about this book. This was one of the first science fiction (alright, science fantasy) book I ever read, back when I was around 9 or so. I’ve re-read it several times over the years, but… Take a American from the 1860s or so who comes across in many ways as a Victorian gentleman (not!), and now transport him to Barsoom (aka Mars, but a Mars that is more interesting and fantastical than the real one!) and have him experience life and adventures there and fall in love with a fellow captive (the incomparable Dejah Thoris!). Sure, the material is from 1912 and it’s dated, but this novel (and the immediate two that followed) shaped the adventure and sf-nal literature that followed and is still an influence on writers today. ‘Nuff said. πŸ™‚

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – While I found this story engaging, though not all that exciting, this was an enjoyable book, a character driven fantasy that mainly focused on court intrigue. This story chronicles the rise of Maia, a half-goblin, and his rise from a naive boy who was intimidated by his lack of social skills and education into a fairly benevolent ruler. I liked the slow development of Maia as a character, whose confidence and other personality elements changed and grew over the course of the novel. The Elvish court machinations that he had to deal with were quite interesting, and the motivations of those plotting against him were easily understood, though the author did make a point to explain them. It has a lot going for it as a novel, though the pacing is a bit slow for those who read a lot of books in this style, so beware. Other than that, a fine novel.

The rest of the books that I read in February, 2018 were all pretty good, but these three stood out the most (other than Le Guin’s The Dispossessed) for the month.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG products, 3 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in February. Since this is the early part of the year still, it brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 13 books, 3 RPGs and RPG products, 3 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

Book Reads in January, 2018 February 2, 2018

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2018. The new year. Another year to see what my reading for the year will be like.

Thus, as is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my January, 2018 reads.

*****
Books Read in January, 2018

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Theater Knights I: The White Lake by Niklas Forreiter and Daniel Hessler (RPG)

November, 2017 Locus

Little Sisters of the Apocalypse by Kit Reed (r?)

GameTek: The Math and Science of Gaming by Geoff Engelstein

Bertram of Butter Cross by Jeffrey E. Barlough (r)

Girl Genius Book One: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank by Phil & Kaja Foglio (Graphic Novel)

Myth Adventures! by Robert Asprin and Phil Foglio (Graphic Novel)

Theater Knights II: The Blue Tome by Niklas Forreiter and Daniel Hessler (RPG)

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

S.P.Q.R. IX: The Princess and the Pirates by John Maddox Roberts

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (r)
*****

And that was the start of my reading for 2018.

And thus started my year of reading for 2017. I have to say that I was quite pleased at the number of books and other stuff that I read in January, as it seemed to be a slow reading month to start off the new year, though I obviously read more than I expected to. The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – Oh, come on! Do I really have to write a review of this book that has something that’s not been said about the book before? I will say that every re-read of the book allows me to see different nuances, and this time was no exception. Superb novel, can’t recommend it enough.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty – I always find it difficult to review mystery novels, for fear of giving away too much. One of the things I maintain about good sf is that it’s not about space ships, aliens, and lasers (or whatever). It’s about humanity (or lack/differences thereof) and how people react to changes in society (be they tech, social, or environmental). One of the large can ‘o worms in sf is cloning, and Six Wakes deals with a lot of the issues surrounding cloning, from a hindsight point of view. Set on a spaceship that is delivering colonists to a new world, the book opens with the clone crew being awoke into a literal house of blood and death, as their former selves’ have been murdered. Add the loss of 25 years of memories (their mind maps being those from the day before the ship set out), and the basic whodunnit is set. The book has an atmosphere of paranoia as the clones try to figure out what happened and why. The book’s current time is interspersed with the history of the clones, and are very relevant to what happened. This is top-notch science fiction and a heck of a good mystery, and I really liked this book.

S.P.Q.R. IX: The Princess and the Pirates by John Maddox Roberts – This book is the ninth book in the S.P.Q.R. series, a murder mystery series that follows the career of Decius Caecilius Metellus during the last days of the Roman Republic (this particular book occurs in 50 B.C., or as Roberts notes at the end of the book: the 703rd year of the city of Rome). The Metellus family are a prominent family, though on the decline. After spending two years as an aedile, Decius is tasked by his family (actually by the Senate, but it’s a long story!) to go off to fight the pirates springing up in the Eastern Mediterranean. Needless to say, there is foul murder that occurs, and Decius encounters Cleopatra once more, now a precocious 16-year-old, who thinks she can help with the pirate matters. The story has some neat twists and the pirates are only part of what Decius finds. I love this series for its historical detail, and recommend this book (though it is a weaker one, despite the excellent plot, in the series overall to this point).

The rest of the books that I read in January, 2018 were all pretty good, and certainly enjoyed the two graphic novels as well, but the three above were the stand-outs for the month.

Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazines, 0 comics, and 2 graphic novels in January. Since this is the start of the year, it brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 7 books, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazines, 0 comics, and 2 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

R.I.P. Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) January 24, 2018

Posted by jkahane in book hut, obituary, personal, reading hut, science fiction & fantasy.
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I heard about this yesterday, but needed to take some time before I could write the words.

Terrible, sad news in the world of science fiction and fantasy literature.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88

Over the 40+ years that I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction, I’ve been a fan of Ursula K. Le Guin‘s books and works and her incredibly rich imagination and ability to…well, *write*. While I was introduced to the sf field with works by Asimov and the greats of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, my earliest fantasy reading was Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. I may have always lived in other fantasy and science fiction worlds, but I consider Earthsea to be…home.

While I loved and enjoyed the Earthsea stories in my youth and teens, I came to adore her science fiction (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, The Word for World Is Forest, and the rest of the Hainish Cycle), but also some of the lesser known works like Rocannon’s World, The Lathe of Heaven and others. The real joy for me as I came to adulthood was I saw in Le Guin’s works her use of the creative flexibility of the science fiction and fantasy genres to undertake thorough explorations of both social and psychological identity and of broader cultural and social structures. In doing so, she draws on sociology, anthropology and psychology. And Goddess, but did she know language and words! Much of her writing is an abject lesson on how to write, and she did it with aplomb.

What can I say? I know…

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

Rest In Peace, UKL. The words are silent now – but they will live on, forever. I am glad that we have all of your writings to savour from now until the end of time.

Books Read in December, 2017 January 2, 2018

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Since it is the new month of January (and it’s barely a couple of days old)… As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my December, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in December, 2017

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Aventuria Almanac by Florian Don Schauen and Daniel Simon Richter w/ Eevie Demirtel, Tobias Rafael Junge, Alex Spohr and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

December, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Revelations From Heaven by Sarah Maier w/ Eevie Demirtel and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

The Vampire of Havena (Solo) by Sebastien Thurau (RPG)

The Vagrant by Peter Newman

Aventurian Bestiary by Dominic Hladek, Marie Monkemeyer, Alex Spohr and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

The Electric State by Simon Stalenhag (Artbook)

Our Friends the Machines and Other Mysteries by Mikael Bergstrom, Steve Daldry, Gabrielle de Bourg, Anders Fager, Bjorn Hellqvist, Nils Hintze and Nils Karlen (RPG)

Aventurian Herald #173 by Various (Newspaper) (RPG)

Arivor’s Doom by Dominic Hladek (RPG)

Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

The Dark Eye Game Master Screen and Inns & Taverns Guide by Thomas Roy Craig, Gudrun Schurer, Alex Spohr and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

Blightborn by Chuck Wendig
*****

December, 2017 was a good month in terms of reading, if one counted mostly roleplaying game materials and supplements, though I did get in a fair share of books for the month as well all things considered. The month of reading felt very slow for me this past December, but that was mainly due to the various stuff going on in my life health-wise. And the fact that lifting anything with my left hand doesn’t work so well. 😦 Since most of my reading for the month was roleplaying game supplements for The Dark Eye RPG, there weren’t a lot of novels to choose from among those I read as being particularly good. The only book for the month that stood out was:

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas – A really good novel. I wasn’t sure if Claire Douglas would be able to follow up on The Sisters with something really great, but she did with this book. The plot is this: A local girl goes missing, apparently falling off the local closed old pier and friends and family from that point on go their own way. Eighteen years later, the girl’s brother phones the girl’s best friend to say that part of a body has been found wearing a trainer that was the same as the one she had on when last seen. One of the things I liked about the book was the manner of how the chapters jump in time, with Frankie telling the modern story and Sophie’s view of the events in 1997 being written as a series of diary entries. While this style of writing has been used before, author Douglas manages to carry this off very well. She manages to build depth into the characters, and I particularly liked the subtle changes over time witnessed in Leon (Sophie’s boyfriend), Daniel (Sophie’s brother) and Alistair (Frankie’s dad). Did Local Girl Missing keep me gripped in the story to the end? Yes, it certainly did. The plot becomes quite complex, with lots of potential perpetrators entering the story as Sophie’s killer. The final twist was definitely worth waiting for. This book should appeal to those who like a psychological thriller. Recommended.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 7 RPG and RPG products, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in December. This brings the 2017 year end totals up to the following: 92 books, 27 RPGs and RPG products, 19 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels. I was disappointed that I didn’t manage to get to 100 books (not including RPGs and other stuff) this year, but part of the reason for that was a dismal month of reading in November. The reading for the year was significantly down by 11 books, a sad thing, but it wasn’t a bad year of reading at all. So that’s saying something.

Books Read in November, 2017 December 3, 2017

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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my November, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in November, 2017

The Golden Torc by Julian May (r)

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

October, 2017 Locus

King of Swords by Eleanor Arnason (r)

The Blight of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
*****

And those were my reads in the month of November. This was one of the slowest months of reading that I’ve had in a long time, to be honest, but there are good reasons for it. The fact of the matter is that it’s been very difficult for me to actually hold a book in my hands or to lean one against my hands over the past month due to the problems I’m having with my left shoulder/neck/arm and spine. So it was actually a half-decent number of reads given my condition.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe – I can’t say that I’m a fan of music biographies, but I’ve always enjoyed the music of Joni Mitchell, so I figured I’d gve this book a read. The author’s style is readable and pretty much straightforward, though it’s a bit over-written in a couple of places for my taste. David Yaffe knows his stuff and covers the entirety of Joni Mitchell’s life in interesting, but not overly extensive, detail. He has known Joni Mitchell personally for a long time, and having spoken with her extensively for this book as well as having spoken to a wide variety of people who’ve known her from childhood friends to musical collaborators, and has creative a genuine picture of a very talented, yet tough, very much her own self, and self-reliant, musician. I recommend this book.

The Blight of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler – One of the biggest problems with trilogies is that the middle book seems to always be the weakest of the three. The Blight of Muirwood is an exception to this rule, as this sequel is a better book in various ways than the first book in the Legends of Muirwood series. Author Jeff Wheeler has written a book that both expands on the first book and also sets up a conclusion that doesn’t feel like so many cookie cutter fantasy books these days. It also serves to set up what the third book will be about rather well. Blight is also a more mature book than the first book, as the protagonists are fleshed out more deeply, and relationships are further explained as well as being expanded upon. There’s a lot of action in this book, and some rather great plot twists. Highly recommended.

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard – What can I say about this novel that does it justice? Imogen is a writer, her two years younger sister Marin is a ballet dancer, and both go to an artists’ colony called Melete, just north of Boston. They both have a hideous mother who fits the role of the wicked stepmother or witch. And Melete hides secrets of its own, secrets that a knowledgeable reader will figure out somewhat earlier than other readers. Because this book is all about relationships and the realm of the Fae. What’s really special is that first novel writer Kat Howard slyly introduces the faerie elements with an almost factual nature that fans of the Fae will expect in such a “real world” setting. When one encounters the Wild Hunt, for example, the reader understands them for what they are, and accepts them within the reality of the book as something unique, frightening, but very much in keeping with the world that the author has created. While I don’t think this book is for everyone, if you enjoy books about Faeries and the Fay, with mortals blundering through it at times, this book is for you.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 0 RPGs and RPG products, 1 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in November. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 86 books, 20 RPGs and RPG products, 19 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

Books Read in October, 2017 November 2, 2017

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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my October, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in October, 2017

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (r)

Heroic Works 3: The Molted Serpent by Michael Masberg (RPG)

Heroic Works 4: Kibakadabra by Dominic Hladek (RPG)

Heroic Works 5: The Thorwal Drum by Daniel Hebler (RPG)

September, 2017 Locus

Heroic Works 6: Emperor of Thieves by Annette Juretzki (RPG)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler

Black Salamander by Marilyn Todd

The Storyteller’s Thesaurus: Fantasy, History & Horror by James M. Ward & Anne K. Brown

The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May (r)

November, 2017 Reader’s Digest
*****

And those were my reads in the month of October. While this was a decent month of reading (I always try to read around 10 books per month), it actually feels like I didn’t read all that many books this past month. Still, not half bad. πŸ™‚

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Thief’s Daughter by Jeff Wheeler – The second book in the Kingfountain series by the author, this book is actually somewhat better than the first novel was. The children who were the focus of the first book have grown up, and now find themselves involved in the intrigues that that they have been caught up in. This is a terrific character book: the King is tragically flawed and Owen and Elysabeth are normal young adults with responsibilities and have parts to play of their own in the unfolding tragedy tat is playing out. The book’s end is heartbreaking, and I’m looking forward to the third book in the series when I get to it in my To Read Queue (TRQ). Highly recommended.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz – This book appealed to me, in the end, because it’s a lovely whodunnit that gives the reader not one, but *two* stories with murders to solve in the same novel. And, of course, I’m a sucker for a good mystery! The novel contains a classic mystery within a contemporary mystery. I’m not going to give away any of the plot elements here, but will say that the book is interesting, engaging and funny at some points. The story is narrated mainly by Susan and set in London, whereas the ‘Magpie Murders’ manuscript takes place in a small English village.
If you’re a fan of classic mysteries such as those of Agatha Christie, then you will likely enjoy this novel; if you’re a fan of contemporary thrillers then you will also enjoy this novel because it contains both elements! The novel is almost 500 pages long, and while I feel that it could have been told more concisely, this story is a wonderful read.

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs – What can I say about this novel? Hmmm… Take a couple of pinches of Westerns, add a pinch of Romans, a pinch of steampunk and a smattering of touches of various other genres and you sort of get the wonderfully imaginative new world that the author has created for the first book of a planned trilogy. This book is wonderfully imaginative save in one respect: with the strong echo of Westerns, it’s not hard to see which group of characters has the role of Indians – and in that displays some of the most clichéd derogatory stereotypes from the Western genre. Without the Western influence, having bad guys who mutilate the heads of opponents, abduct babies and the like would probably pass without notice, but with the Western influence, it’s hard to see these as other than caricatures of Native Americans which are best left in the past. The book is the first part of a trilogy, but in setting the scene for large parts of the book there isn’t that much of an overall plot driving events along to some degree. By the end of the book there certainly is, but overall the pacing didn’t seem right to me. The depth of the imagination found in this world is the real strength of the novel, and it is very refreshing in its originality, given the story of a “steam boat” heading into dangerous territory with a mix of politicians and “cowboys” on board. I’m looking forward to the sequel to this one for sure.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month, though I also enjoyed reading Black Salamander by Marilyn Todd and re-reading The Many-Coloured Land by Julian May and a couple of the other works found above.

Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in October. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 80 books, 20 RPGs and RPG products, 18 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

Happy Birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin! October 21, 2017

Posted by jkahane in birthday, book hut, reading hut, science fiction & fantasy, writing & editing.
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Today is the birthday of one of my favourite writers of all-time, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Many of us who read science fiction and fantasy were likely influenced by her early writings, such as the Earthsea trilogy, and the Hainish series (including The Left Hand of Darkness), and I am staggered by the sheer amount of material that she has written over the years and which I have in my possession. And honoured to own.

While I began with Asimov, Tolkien, and some of the other great writers who dominated the late 1950s (as my dad felt that I should read the sf and f that was written during the decade of my birth and before), it was the words and prose of Le Guin’s writing that gave me my love of social science fiction, and introduced me to the social sciences in such a terrific fashion.

Happy Birthday, UKL!! May the Goddess bless you with health, happiness, prosperity, and the ability to keep us entertained with enjoyable, thought-provoking books and short stories for many years to come! πŸ™‚

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music:Santana – “Black Magic Woman”

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birthday, books, fantasy, reading hut, science fiction, ursula k. le guin, writing

Books Read in September, 2017 October 2, 2017

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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my September, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in September, 2017

The Dying Ship by Nils Karlen and Kosta Kostulas (RPG)

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

TORG: The Cassandra Files by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

The Dark Eye Quick-Start Rules by Unknown (RPG)

Monsters by Matthew McFarland with Jonathan McFarland (RPG)

August, 2017 Locus

Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn From Them by Carl Abbott

Wizard’s Funeral by Kim Hunter (r)

September, 2017 Reader’s Digest

Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss (r)

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

The Cyberpapacy Sourcebook by Jim Bambra (RPG) (r)

Jail Bait by Marilyn Todd

The Dark Eye (Roleplaying Game) Core Rules by Alex Spohr and Jens Ullrich (RPG)

Heroic Works 1: Witch’s Dance by Dominic Hladek (RPG)

Heroic Works 2: A Goblin More or Less by Gudrun Schurer (RPG)
*****

And those were my reads in the month of September. This was a decent month of reading, though I did read a lot of roleplaying games and rpg material in the month, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I got read in September.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron – I’ve always liked good historical work, usually the older the better. But with this novel, I have to say that I also enjoy pre-historic books. πŸ™‚ This novel bounces back and forth between the story of Girl, the book’s Neanderthal protagonist, and Rosamund Gale, an archaeologist excavating a groundbreaking site. While I love science, and there’s some accurate (as far as I know) stuff here, the author made me appreciate my Neanderthal ancestors, but I also felt like I was being given an insight of actual events from 40,000 years ago. The parallels between Girl and Rose made the story feel more real, as through Rose, Girl became real. This is a novel that has a captivating story, that I think a lot of people will enjoy. Recommended.

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn – First up, the basics. Polly Newton has a straightforward personal career goal: she wants to become a starship pilot, preferably as an intergalactic pilot, and take advantage of the new M Class drives being developed. However, her immediate plans are interrupted when her mother, the Mars Colony One director, announces that Polly and her twin brother, Charles, have been enrolled at the prestigious Earth-based Galileo Academy. Polly, having been born and raised on Mars as the third generation, post-colonization, has never stepped foot off-planet so moving to Earth for three years is a dreadful prospect, even if it might help her chances of getting into a pilot training program.

This stand-alone novel reminded me a lot of the Robert Heinlein juveniles; this is a good thing, ’cause I enjoyed reading those books. Told from Polly’s first person point of view as she struggles to adapt to her new environment on Earth. I’ve read a lot of science fiction where people living on Earth have to adjust to life in space, other planets, asteroid mining colonies, etc., but this is was a neat book that takes that concept and spins it on its head. (A notable exception being Heinlein’s own Stranger in a Strange Land.) Polly must not only struggle with things we take for granted (such as the relatively high gravity of Earth, the concept of β€œoutdoors”, the vastness of the oceans, etc.) but she must also cope with the prejudices of fellow students and teachers who regard Polly and Charles as outsiders and lesser people. She’s an enjoyable character to read about, but the other main characters in the book are also fun to read about, and are more detailed than I expected them to be. While this is a stand-alone novel, it just screams for a sequel or two. I really hope that Carrie Vaughn considers writing more about Polly’s and Charles’s adventures. Highly recommended.

Those were the highlight reads among the books this past month, though I also enjoyed reading Jail Bait by Marilyn Todd and The Dark Eye (RPG) Core Rules book (that was a densely written work at 400+ pages) and the other books that I read this past month.

Overall, I managed to read 6 novels, 6 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in September. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 73 books, 19 RPGs and RPG products, 64 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. πŸ™‚

It’s H.G. Wells’s Birthday September 21, 2017

Posted by jkahane in birthday, book hut, history, reading hut, science hut.
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For those who are unaware of such things or just plain don’t necessarily care about them, today is H.G. Wells‘s birthday. Well, would have been, if he were still alive.

An outspoken socialist and pacifist, Wells is considered one of the two “Fathers of Science Fiction” (the other being Jules Verne). He led a remarkable life, wrote some fascinating books that were and still are considered science fiction romances, but had other claims to fame as well.

While I first read Asimov’s Foundation as my introduction to science fiction when I was 9 or so, it was Wells’s The Time Machine that may well have cemented my love of the genre, and taught me that “modern” sf in 1965 or thereabouts had predecessors that were just as important to read and know about.

Rest well, George Herbert Wells. You earned it.