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Books Read in January, 2019 February 3, 2019

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2019. 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, 2019 reads.

Books Read in January, 2019

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

The Living Land by Ross Watson (RPG)

The Living Land GM Screen by Various (RPG)

Legion of Super-Heroes Comics (r)

Color by Victoria Finlay

Scion of the Fox by S.M. Belko

January/February, 2019 Reader’s Digest

December, 2018 Locus

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

And that was the start of my reading for 2019. I have to say that this was my slowest month of book reading ever since I started blogging my book reads up to both LiveJournal and WordPress, and an extremely poor showing for any January of reading. In large part this was due to the fact that I was feeling seriously under the weather for most of January and book reading was giving me headaches and vertigo, but also because I read a good chunk of old Legion of Super-Heroes comics during the first two or so weeks of the month. Hopefully, this won’t be a trend for 2019, as my book shelves are stacked with a pretty large To Read Queue (TRQ). The books I enjoyed the most were:

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar – Another work by transplanted to England Israeli author Lavie Tidhar, Central Station is not a novel, but a collection of intertwined short stories, stitched together to form a sort of mosaic novel about the residents of the titular far-future Tel Aviv spaceport. The story follows a group of loosely connected characters in a heck of a good setting (more on that in a moment). We have a robot priest, a cyborg family matriarch, a prodigal son returning with a Martian parasite, post-Singularity AIs called Others, a data vampire, a cyborg super soldier falling in love and children who may or may not be in the process of transcendence. Add to that the setting of the story, the lovingly detailed Central Station spaceport, as well as the background elements of a settled solar system and a virtual fabric of reality where things done in immersive MMO based worlds can be legitimate jobs, and well… Truly fabulous. Of note is that the author pays homage to pretty much every Golden Age/Pulp era science fiction writer, but the tone is mostly that of Clifford Simak, especially his novel City. This book is really a unique experience that should not be missed. Highly recommended.

None of the other books that I read in January, 2019 really left an impression on me, other than Color by Victoria Finlay, though I have to say that I really enjoyed the nostalgic warmth brought back to me by re-reading the classic Legion Of Super-Heroes comics of the late mid-1960s. Part of how I’m feeling about this may well be due to the fact that I was running a fever during parts of January, too…

Overall, I managed to read 4 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 45 comics, and 0 graphic novels in January. Since this is the start of the year, it brings the year total in 2019 to a set of numbers that look like this: 4 books, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 45 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂


Books Read in December, 2018 January 2, 2019

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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, 2018 reads.

Books Read in December, 2018

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

November, 2018 Locus

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Hasib and the Queen of Serpents by David B (Graphic Novel)

Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

December, 2018 Reader’s Digest

Adventure Comics #247 – Superboy #124 (Legion of Super-Heroes) (Comics) (r)

The Reader by Traci Chee

The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal

Legion of Super-Heroes Volume I by Paul Levitz and Steve Crow (RPG) (r)

Legion of Super-Heroes Volume II: The World Book by The Adventure Architects (RPG) (r)

2995: The Legion of Super-Heroes Sourcebook by Tom and Mary Bierbaum (RPG) (r)

Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns

December, 2018 was a good month in terms of reading, if one counted mostly Legion of Super-Heroes comics from the dim and distant past. 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 right hand doesn’t work so well. 😦 (Hence the reading of comics, I guess.) Other than some of the classic Legion stories that I won’t go into here, not a lot of great reads this past month to wrap up 2018. The only books for the month that stood out were:

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal – Set in an alternate 1952 in which the US has launched the first space satellite, opening the space race, Washington DC and most of the East Coast of the United States gets obliterated by a meteorite. The climate changes from that impact threaten to render Earth uninhabitable, making getting to Mars a priority. The narrator is Elma York, mathematician and wife of Nathaniel York. She is a computer – aka a human mathematician hired to compute stuff, in this case, space launch trajectories. She’s also a former WASP, a group of women hired to ferry military airplanes around in WWII, which comes in handy, as her piloting skills allow her and her husband to survive the impact. She eventually decides that she wants to be an astronaut, and that’s where the conflict is. This is the 1950s and women are supposed to be in the kitchen, not in space. Oh, and Elma suffers from anxiety. This set of circumstances makes for an excellent, and fascinating read. The author explorea sexism, racism (blacks were computers, too) and mental health, while providing the reader a gripping and entertaining book. It was quite eye-opening for me in many ways to see the problems faced by people like Elma – people who can and do greatly contribute. The author takes a few liberties with history, aside from Dewey defeating Truman in 1948 and the asteroid thingie, but one thing she was totally true to was that most of the mathematics that got man into orbit was done by hand, and mostly by women. This is an excellent novel, and I highly recommend it.

The Reader by Traci Chee – I’m going to start by saying that I love this book, and am going to provide almost no spoilers for it lest you the reader get spoiled for reading it. This is a world where words, where books, are magic. Sefia, the main protagonist in this one, is a young girl who has had so many terrible things happen to her that her meeting with the boy she calls Archer almost seems like another bad event, but proves to be a lot more positive than the reader first sees. Along the way, the reader meets fascinating and interesting characters, such as Captain Cannek Reed and the crew of the Current of Faith, and get to read about stories told within the story. This book is so complex on many levels, with some good world building, and yet is cleanly written with true magic to it. I highly recommend this book!

Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 3 RPG and RPG products, 2 magazine, 60 comics, and 1 graphic novel in December. This brings the 2018 year end totals up to the following: 92 books, 40 RPGs and RPG products, 23 magazines, 60 comics, and 4 graphic novels. I’m a little 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 couple of dismal months of reading. The reading for the year was equal in books read, so that’s not a bad year of reading at all.

Question for Those Who Read my “Books Read” Posts January 1, 2019

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For those who are interested in my reading habits, for my usual Book Reads post for the month (in this case December), as some folks know I’ve started re-reading my Legion of Super-Heroes comics collection from the beginning (as you can read about in this blog entry).

For those into my book reading posts near the beginning of each month, do you want me to list each individual comic in the list of reads, or would you prefer to see me just list it as “Legion of Super-Heroes comics” or some such like that? I don’t mind listing each comic read, but as an example, I’ve read 60 comics alone in December, and will probably end up reading more than that per month in future months. So I’d thought I’d ask those who follow these posts…

Look forward to hearing what folks have to say.

Books Read in November, 2018 December 4, 2018

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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, 2018 reads.

Books Read in November, 2018

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (r)

Pathfinder: Qadira, Jewel of the East by Jessica Price (RPG)

October, 2018 Locus

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

Android Chronicles: Reborn by Lance Erlick

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn

The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

November, 2018 Reader’s Digest

The Other Half of the Sky edited by Athena Andreadis with Kay Holt

Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

And those were my reads in the month of November. I didn’t read any many books as I would have liked, but managed to read more than I expected to be able to do. Rather pleased that I only read one re-read this past month, though I didn’t get to read any non-fiction in November.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Other Half of the Sky edited by Athena Andreadis with Kay Holt – Women may hold up more than half the sky on earth, but it has been different in heaven: science fiction still is very much a preserve of male protagonists, mostly performing by-the-numbers quests. In The Other Half of the Sky, editor Athena Andreadis offers readers heroes who happen to be women, doing whatever they would do in universes where they’re fully human. One of the most interesting, and possibly the best, anthology of science fiction I’ve read this year. Th authors with stories here are Melissa Scott, Alexander Jablokov, Nisi Shawl, Sue Lange, Vandana Singh, Joan Slonczewski, Terry Boren, Aliette de Bodard, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Martha Wells, Kelly Jennings, C.W. Johnson, Cat Rambo, Christine Lucas and Jack McDevitt. My favourite stories were Melissa Scott’s “Finders”, Alexander Jablokov’s “Bad Day on Boscobel”, Sue Lange’s “Mission of Greed”, Joan Slonczewski’s “Landfall”, Ken Liu’s “The Shape of Thought” and several of the others. Really, there’s not a bad story in the batch, though some had less appeal to me than others. Highly recommended.

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan – The first book in what appears to be a series, this novel deals with Princess Kora, the daughter of King Midas, who relinquished his ability (zthe Touch) forever. Set ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbours secret powers that are getting harder to hide. During her courtship with a prince, a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, and Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems — not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold – and the power it brings – is more dangerous than she’d ever believed. Being somewhat of a sucker for faerie tale or myth retellings, the more unusual the better, I found this to be a really neat reimagining of a familiar tale. The prologue was a bit long and somewhat confusing, setting up the story by recounting the tale of Midas and introducing Kora, but much of that info dump could have included in the story itself, likely the early chapters. There were a couple of characters, notably Hettie, Kora’s lady-in-waiting, who came across as selfish and complained about everything, but she definitely changed for the better as the story went on. The romance element seemed quite straightforward and boring, but then a plot twist came along that while not being unpredicatable, was somewhat more satisfying. This book was a quick read, definitely entertaining, and well.. ’nuff said.

Android Chronicles: Reborn by Lance Erlick – The first book in the Android Chronicles series. The most perfect synthetic human ever created has been programmed to obey every directive. Until she develops a mind of her own… Synthia Cross is a state-of-the-art masterwork — and a fantasy come true for her creator. Dr. Jeremiah Machten is a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence. Synthia is also showing signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she’s struggling to answer crucial questions about her past. And when Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits — because Machten’s fervour to create the perfect A.I. is concealing a vengeful and deadly personal agenda. This novel, the first in a series, explores one of the oldest questions that have been asked since “Frankenstein”, through “R.U.R” and a host of other books and was explored quite a bit in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Data. Fictional explorations of this question abound, and the interaction between humanity and its mechanical doppelgangers has provided the grist for many a dark tale. This novel introduces us to the author’s protagonist, Synthia Cross, who faces a difficult problem: Synthia is an android whose appearance and actions can mimic perfectly those of a human. She exists in a future where such machines are outlawed, but her creator, Dr. Jeremiah Machten, wanted such a machine. He built her to satisfy his vanity, and to fulfill his darker personal desires. I’m not going to give away any more of the plot, but will say that the book surprised me when the plot took some unexpected twists and turns. Synthia is an exceptionally strong female character, and she pulls the reader along on her quest for freedom and a place in the wider world. An excellent first novel in this series, and I highly recommend it.

Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn – This is a lovely young adult novel. And probably the best, and most fun, read I had in November. On one side of the border lies the modern world: the internet, homecoming dances, cell phones. On the other side dwell the ancient monsters who spark humanity’s deepest fears: dragons. Seventeen-year-old Kay Wyatt knows she’s breaking the law by rock climbing near the border, but she’d rather have an adventure than follow the rules. When the dragon Artegal unexpectedly saves her life, the rules are abruptly shattered, and a secret friendship grows between them. But suspicion and terror are the legacy of human and dragon inter­actions, and the fragile truce that has maintained peace between the species is unravelling. As tensions mount and battles begin, Kay and Artegal are caught in the middle. Can their friendship change the course of a war? While I know that this was Carrie Vaughn’s young adult debut novel (I only learned that fact afterwards) this book is basically about a girl and a dragon who will do anything to avert a meaningless war. The author’s writing here is best when she’s focused on Kay and Artegal’s scenes together, but the book takes on a dark tinge after a flying incident leads to a disaster. If I had a problem with this book, it’s the ending. The last few chapters seem a bit jumbled to me, and the story ends on a definite “To be continued” note that drove me crazy! This book is a distinctly 21st Century story of myths and machines, with an alliance that crosses a seemingly unbridgeable divide. Highly recommended.

Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener – Another first novel in a series that feels young adult throughout but has a lot more going for it. Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess’ head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race. No pressure or anything. Factor in Trystan ― the princess’ terrifying betrothed who is intent on unravelling all her secrets ― and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head. This enjoyable, sometimes humourous space opera is so much a pastiche on The Prince and the Pauper but has an enchanting quality to it and a female protagonist who is easy to root for. While the book has a few faults, it’s a highly entertaining read. Recommended.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG product, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in November. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 85 books, 37 RPGs and RPG products, 21 magazines, 0 comics, and 3 graphic novels.

Books Read in October, 2018 November 2, 2018

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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, 2018 reads.

Books Read in October, 2018

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey

A Thousand and One Nights: A Game of Enticing Stories by Meguey Baker (RPG)

The Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milan

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

September, 2018 Locus

Starless Sky edited by Kevin MacGregor (TDE anthology)

October, 2018 Reader’s Digest

Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

And those were my reads in the month of October. I was somewhat surprised to see that I had read this much material during the month, given that my two broken ribs have really hindered my ability to hold books and the like. No re-reads this month, which was an even more pleasant surprise, and I also managed to read a non-fiction book again, so that was good too.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall – An absolutely amazing book. The author (actually two Australian sisters) tells the story and follows the two lead characters, Nika Rik Terri and Josune Arriola. Nika is a body modder, who uses specialized machine pods to change peoples’ bodies and appearance, and she’s damned good at what she does. So good, in fact, that she invents a machine that does something extraordinary. After a nasty criminal confronts her in her studio, she is suddenly on the run for her life. Josune, on the other hand, is an explorer with a crew on a space ship called The Road, and a chance encounter with Nika and The Road‘s captain, Hammond Roystan, brings Nika and Josune together for an action-packed adventure! The tale told was very clever and extremely entertaining, and there were some smart twists with very good writing. The real strengths of the book, however, were the characters and the technology. Each of the main characters is hiding something, and the dialogue in the book is clever, at times funny, but always witty. My two favourite characters were Roystan and Nika, but all of the main characters (including some of the villains) are well-written and given personalities that make them stand out. I’ve not read the author’s (or should that be authors’?) Linesman series, but will definitely seek them out. In the meantime, highly recommended.

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick – As a huge science fiction fan and a lover of time travel material, this is a very interesting book that had a nice mix of science and pop culture combined in a melange that was very readable. A cultural, scientific, and literary history of time travel, this book is expansive, almost always engaging, and almost endlessly fascinating. Tracing the origins of time travel (from conception to pop culture plot point), the author enthusiastically chronicles all things time travel-related (including physics, technology, paradox, literature, film, philosophy, culture, futurism, and much more). The book also muses on the nature of time and our very human relationship to it, and also explores the hyper-connected age that is our 21st century reality. I thought the book could have used a few more practical examples, since each chapter focused on one aspect of time travel. When that is based on a movie or a book, it felt a bit long at times. More diverse sources might have alleviated this, but overall an engaging and fascinating read. Recommended.

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer – The first book in the Titan’s Forest series, this is a book with a sense of wonder that I don’t know how to explain it without spoiling the novel for other readers. The truly amazing thing about this book is the fact that the superb, wondrous setting – a magical, polytheistic society living in a physical hierarchy of layers of a rainforest – isn’t even the best thing about the book. As creative as the world building is here, and it is certainly some of the best I’ve ever seen in my time as a fantasy and sf reader, it’s overshadowed by the characters! Unar, the protagonist, is entitled, selfish and jealous – and she is truly glorious. Naturally, her conflicts with the secondary characters drive a great deal of the story. Without saying anything else about the book… Highly recommended.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG product, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in October. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 76 books, 36 RPGs and RPG products, 19 magazines, 0 comics, and 3 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin! October 21, 2018

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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! 🙂

Books Read in September, 2018 October 2, 2018

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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, 2018 reads.

Books Read in September, 2018

Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn (r)

Tales From Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

August, 2018 Locus

Rockets and Ray Guns: The Sci-Fi Science of the Cold War by Andrew May

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Capharnaüm – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game by Raphaël Bardas, François Cedelle, Pierre Coppet, Sarah Newton et al (RPG) (r)

September, 2018 Reader’s Digest

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

The Dinosaur Knights by Victor Milán

The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (r)

And those were my reads in the month of September. This was a month of a couple of re-reads, some quality new books (for me, anyways!), as I was kept busy doing translation on an rpg and didn’t have as much reading time as I would have liked. I managed to read a non-fiction book that I was planning on, so I’m pleased.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu – The first book in the Shattered Sands series, Twelve Kings tells the story of Ceda, an orphan of the streets in a fabulous, Arabic-inspired city called Sharakhai, who hungers for revenge on the twelve Kings of the title for the death of her mother when she was still a child. The author paints a vivid picture of both the city and the world around it, infusing it with life that takes the reader on a lovely ride, and invests the reader in Ceda’s life and her plans – which, as in all good stories, get somewhat derailed. An interesting cast of characters surround Ceda, and these are brought to superb life by the author, making the book a terrific read despite its length. Highly recommended.

The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe – I was inspired to read this book when I finished up Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore a couple of months ago. This book could be a difficult read for those with little to no experience with the history and background of the Impressionists of Paris during the time they painted, but it is nevertheless an excellent read. The book discusses each painter one after the other in a seamless fashion, also providing details on early friendships, exchange of ideas, and the eventual falling
out of some of the painters. The book also goes into some detail about the personal struggles of various Impressionists who came from wealthy families. The book also gives credit to the early collectors and the struggles to bring the Impressionist work to America, which was oddly enough opposed by Monet. Well researched, Roe’s book also seems to go into topics on the subject that other books often don’t. Recommended.

Note: I would have recommended a couple of other books that I read in September, but to be honest, I’m quite ill at the moment and don’t have the energy to do so. I would have recommended the books by Le Guin and May as well this month.

Overall, I managed to read 9 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG product, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in September. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 67 books, 35 RPGs and RPG products, 17 magazines, 0 comics, and 3 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

It’s H.G. Wells’s Birthday September 21, 2018

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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.

Books Read in August, 2018 September 3, 2018

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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 August, 2018 reads.

Books Read in August, 2018

July, 2018 Locus

Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Time Siege by Wesley Chu

Hellspark by Janet Kagan (r)

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel by Philip Pullman, Stéphane Melchior and Clélment Oubrerie (Graphic Novel)

The Pleasure Model Repairman by Ruuf Wangersen

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

Capharnaüm – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Roleplaying Game by Raphaël Bardas, François Cedelle, Pierre Coppet, Sarah Newton et al (RPG)

Wired by Julie Garwood

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

And those were my reads in the month of August. August was a month of quality of books, as opposed to quantity, as I read several rather many-paged novels this months, not to mention an epic sized roleplaying game. I didn’t manage to read a couple of non-fiction books that I was planning on, but what can you do? Only so much time every month to read.

The books I enjoyed the most were:

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger – Nolan Moore leads a team of four TV web series production crew members in an effort to retrace the path of an explorer from 1909 who made an important, but mysterious, discovery of a cave high up in the rock strata of the Grand Canyon. Nolan’s crew hopes to ramp up their reputation of chasing after strange conspiracy theory anomalies and turn this potential find into ratings gold and hopefully an actual TV network program. Thus, they allow a journalist and a representative for their corporate sponsor along for the journey, making for a complete party of six. When, against all odds, they actually find the rumored cave and manage to climb to its entrance (filming their documentary along the way) it remains only to discover what, exactly, lies deep within. I’m not going to spoil anything for the reader, but will say that The Anomaly is an energized and suspenseful archaeological sci-fi (and how I hate that term!) horror story that will keep you reading chapter after chapter. From the beginning of the book to its bizarre climax, the book maintains an ever increasing tone of suspense and anxiety inspiring tension that kept me reading. To put it into perspective, this story becomes a tale of survival. What I didn’t realize at the time I read this was that the author, Michael Rutger, is actually the pen name for Michael Marshall Smith (Michael Marshall), the novelist, short story writer and screen writer. This book may make the reader think that they’ve read this story before, as it’s got a lot of similarities to novels of the genre, but there are enough twists and surprises that make the book feel fresh. Told from Nolan’s first person perspective, this books feels like it has a deeply personal level (which it does). There’s a good measure of humour throughout, which makes the horrific moments all that much sharper, and that added to my enjoyment of the book. Recommended.

Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke – This book was one of my favourite novels of the month’s reads. Star’s End is the ultimate book about corporate control, the location itself being the home of the Coromina family. A science fiction story about the Four Sisters, four planets terraformed by Philip Coromina. He not only owns the planets, he owns the people who inhabit them. Any person who doesn’t follow company rules disappears. But what really happens to them is a matter for the reader to discover. The family business manufactures weapons, one of the “products” being humans who are DNA programmed to be soldiers. They fight wars across the galaxy alongside normal human mercenaries hired by the corporations. The protagonist of Star’s End is Esme Coromina, Philip’s eldest daughter. Her mother is a soldier who left her to be raised by Phillip when she was born. Esme’s three hundred-year-old father is dying, Philip having a disease which kills even those taking rejuvenation treatments. She is taken by surprise, but she has been waiting a long time. Esme will become CEO of the Coromina Group, and wants to change the corporation’s direct away from weapons manufacture. The dying Philip wants Esme to find her three younger half-sisters who disappeared some time ago, and the dutiful Esme goes about this, all the time dealing with corporate matters, that include aliens living on the Coromina planets. There are a lot of plot elements that sound familiar and should do, but they are tied up in a nice way. The book jumps between the past and present and shows the history of a very dysfunctional family. There are lots of secrets, both familial and corporate, which we don’t learn until events occur in the past chapters or until Esme reaches a level in the corporation hierarchy to be able to learn them. This novel is an interesting, fun read, though obviously anti-corporate. My only real problem with the book at times was I found Esme’s reluctance to follow her father’s orders a bit hard to swallow. Still, good read. Highly recommended.

Hellspark by Janet Kagan – I’ll state right now that this book was a re-read for me, one of my favourites of my re-reads over the years (for reasons that are evident, if you know me at all), so I’m a bit biased. Hellspark is a wondrous book, being a murder mystery, but with the story really being about the intricacies of language and the meaning of sapience. Every time I read this book I find something new, something that resonates with me. While some people find the book tedious, it’s definitely not for everyone. Language is a dance, and language is fascinating. I still have my original version of teh book, though I’ve bought replacements over the years. I can’t recommend this book enough. ‘Nuff said.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly – Michael Connelly is best known for his detective series featuring Harry Bosch, but with this novel launches a new series in the City of Angels. Renée Ballard is a well-established detective with the LAPD, working the “late show”, police talk for the 11 pm – 7 am shift. It’s mostly about picking up the scraps of the nightlife and directing cases to daytime divisions, but police work all the same. This means that she’s called out whenever the need arises, but Ballard is left without closure or any sense of propriety on the cases she catches. During a single shift, two monumental cases land in her lap: the assault of a transgender prostitute, left for dead in a parking lot, and a shooting at a nightclub with three victims left to die in their own blood. I’m not going to spoil the plot too much here, but will say that while wrestling with her own personal demons, Ballard is taken captive for poking her nose around on these cases, but no one knows she’s gone missing. Is this the end of the late show for Ballard? I really liked this book, mainly because the author has crafted a character in Renée Ballard reflects the grit of the LAPD (based on what I know of it) and offers readers an interesting perspective, not only as a woman, but one who is single and not tied down to anyone else, save her dog. I’m not going to say anything else about this book other than the fact that I recommend it very much.

Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 1 RPGs and RPG product, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 1 graphic novel in August. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 58 books, 34 RPGs and RPG products, 15 magazines, 0 comics, and 3 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

The Capharnaum Goodness Has Arrived! August 3, 2018

Posted by jkahane in book hut, capharnaum rpg, personal, rpg hut.
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It’s here! 🙂

The snail mail this afternoon provided me with a package I’ve been waiting for all week. Since this is a long weekend here in Ontario (and much of Canada), if it hadn’t come today I would have had to wait until at least Tuesday for it to hopefully arrive. But I’m impressed. I received my copy of the game exactly one week after I received the shipping notice from GameQuest in the UK.

My Kickstarter backer copy of Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG has arrived and it is… stunningly beautiful!

Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is a fantasy roleplaying game set in a world of Arabian Nights, Argonauts, and Crusaders. It was inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights, the myths of ancient Greece, and the legends of the Crusades, and is a game where history meets myth, and legends are born.

One of the questions that I always ask about roleplaying games I’m thinking of purchasing is: What do player characters *do* in the game? As mentioned, Capharnaum – The Tales of the Dragon-Marked is based on the myths, legends, and histories of our own world, but it’s very solidly a fantasy roleplaying game. You play heroes – holy warriors, arcane sorcerers, kings of thieves, merchant princes, scholars, explorers, travellers, and more. The adventures you have can range from zero right through to hero – you can adventure in the danger-filled warrens of ancient cities, intrigue with courtiers, battle with armies against ancient foes, or join with those like you – the mysterious Dragon-Marked – to change the world itself. Capharnaum is a heroic game, filled with action and adventure.

The rulebook is a beautiful thing in appearance, some 384 pages in total, with nicely solid paper that isn’t too thick, only somewhat glossy pages, and full of stunning artwork and a superb layout that is sure to engage the reader. The artwork is of variable quality, most of it exquisite and highly evocative of the setting and the material contained within the book and the writing (from what I’ve read of it so far) has that sensa wonda that is so much a part of the style of the Arabian Nights stories. I cannot wait to delve deeper into this game and its magnificent world!

While the game is due for release to the marketplace on August 31st, you can actually pre-order the game right now by following the link I’ve already posted. I promise that you won’t be disappointed! 🙂