The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Magic And Other Enormities

Posted on | May 1, 2015 | 19 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

Now that the tax season is over, and all I need to work on is getting rid of dirtiness and mess (mind you keep your storage locker and yourself just so) before the move to Las Vegas later this month, I actually have the time and inclination to get some reading done. In fact, it’s going to be a real effort to keep from blowing gas money on books for the Kindle…fortunately, there’s always the county library.

Which is where I picked up the latest installment of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files urban fantasy series, Skin Game. I particularly wanted to get hold of this since Marko Kloos pulled his novel Lines of Departure off the ballot, and none of the other nominees (except maybe for Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem) look that interesting. Anyway, the latest adventure of Harry Dresden involves him getting a job from Mab, the Faerie Queen – a job that forces him to work with a deadly former enemy and shows every likelihood of bringing Harry’s career to an untimely and painful end. Previous Dresden Files novels struck me as okay brain candy but nothing special, but this one…yeah, this one is definitely Hugo-caliber writing, and unless Liu’s novel lives up to the hype, it’ll wind up getting my nod for Best Novel.

Also from the county library, Niven and Benford’s Shipstar, which concludes the story begun in Bowl of Heaven*, where a human starship intended to explore and colonize an alien world runs into a gigantic structure that uses a captive star for light, heat and propulsion. The aviform aliens in charge seem determined to add the humans to their collection of subject races, but of course the monkey boys and girls have other ideas – and as things develop, the Big Birds may not be at the top of the chain of command after all. Lots of interesting ideas to chew on, interesting characters, and a plot that keeps trucking along nicely. Recommended.

Speaking of Marko Kloos as we were earlier, his third novel Angles of Attack is out, and while it ties up a lot of loose ends from Lines of Departure and the sidestory Measures of Absolution, there were parts of it that left me feeling that it wasn’t quite up to the expectations set by the first two novels. Among those were the gratuitous suicidal destruction of the [redacted], the gay husband of the Russian combat controller who’s partnered with our hero for about half the book**, and a rather sizable plot hole involving elements of the NAC fleet. You’ll know that one when it comes by. Anyway, it’s an okay story, but somewhat of a letdown after Lines of Departure. Good thing I was able to borrow it from the Amazon Prime Lending Library.

Last, another fantasy, one which looks like it’s going to be wandering into the same gritty territory as the Dresden Files, even though it’s set in L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz. I am speaking, of course, of Ryk Spoor’s Polychrome, which some reviewers have compared to William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, from which they made this movie you might have heard of. šŸ™‚ I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with Spoor’s Grand Central Arena, but this is looking very good in the early going. I’ll follow up next week and let you know if I think it lives up to the promise.

Oh, yes – voting for the Hugo Awards is underway. Read widely, choose wisely.

*Currently available on the Kindle for $3.99.
**Look, Russians aren’t down with the whole gay equality deal, and I don’t see that changing in the next century. Certainly nothing in Kloos’ sparse backstory on the SRA gives any indication that this is the case; this just gets dropped on you out of left field, and as somebody who’s spent entirely too much of his life wrapped up in what Russians think and how their culture works, it hit the floor with a resounding THUD and broke the suspension on my disbelief.


19 Responses to “Magic And Other Enormities”

  1. JeffWeimer
    May 1st, 2015 @ 11:13 pm

    I’m waiting for the Hugo packet before I buy anything. Kloos disappointed me with his withdrawl, but a guy’s gotta eat I suppose. Somebody got to him, and it’s a certain bet it wasn’t the folks (like me) who nominated him.

    But I hear nothing but good things, from everyone Sad Puppy or not, about three Body Problem.

    I wonder if is going to podcast the short story nominees this year like they usually do, or are they going to wimp out over SP3. With the management there, I think they’re going to take their ball and go home.

  2. Shawn Smith
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 8:13 am

    Any opinions on the prospects of Noah Ward winning big this year? And if the obstinate cuss does, what do you think about Puppies pushing for him to win next year?

  3. joethefatman
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 8:15 am

    The county library here has started using e-lending. Yay! They have, I think, 4 books on the list in SF/F. boo.
    But then again, they only have about 30 in dead tree format.

    I’ve been using the Kindle Prime Lending Library some. I’m a lot more willing to try a new author if I can do so cheap.

    Took your recommendation on the Sam Schall Honor and Duty books. Very good reads, I think she just needs a better editor. Both had places where the sex of the character was switched mid scene. A little jarring.

    I’d like to recommend Charles E. Gannon and his Caine Riordan series, Fire with Fire and Trial by Fire. Extremely good stories. I’m looking forward to book 3.

    Thanks Wombat.

  4. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:10 am

    I don’t think the push from the CHORFs to vote for No Award is going to work, since they’ve been too busy alienating all the potential new voters, and even in their own ranks there’ll be people voting for the “right people”. So Vox Day’s threat to nuke the Hugos next year almost certainly isn’t going to come into play…please note that the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are two different packs. I expect a higher standard of intelligence and discernment from our commenters than I do from the kind of people who hang out at Mkng Lght and Whatever.

  5. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:12 am

    For all their many virtues, Fairfax County Library’s e-book lending service is more trouble than it’s worth, imao. They also don’t stock anything in e-book format that they don’t have on dead trees, so…

    Gannon’s books are good; haven’t seen Trial By Fire yet but I’m expecting great things.

  6. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:13 am

    I think Marko didn’t want to seem disloyal to John Scalzi, who he credits as his mentor, but that’s pure speculation.

  7. JeffWeimer
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:28 am

    If true, that’s horse-puckey. Scalzi won a Hugo with a silly piece of fanfic (which he defends because “people liked it” – the one criteria SP champions) and he leans on Kloos because he thinks *a bunch of other fans* who liked his book are icky?

    I don’t know what to think about Scalzi anymore.

  8. joethefatman
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:28 am

    With an email I could loan the book to you. If you want.

  9. Shawn Smith
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:58 am

    Oh, I am aware of the division between Sad & Rabid. I think perhaps a little bit too much is made of it since they are on the same side of the argument, but I know the difference.

    I hope you’re right about No Award failing this year, but if it does dominate, I confess I am all for nuking next year’s.

  10. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 9:59 am

    I do. Kloos’ original reason for withdrawing was because he didn’t want to be associated with Vox Day, who is the Emanuel Goldstein to the CHORFs’ Ingsoc. He later walked that back – slightly, but stood pat on turning down the nomination. And I agree, it was horseshit.

  11. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 10:00 am

    That would be awesome! My e-mail is cleverly concealed at the top of the post. šŸ™‚

  12. Wombat_socho
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 10:02 am

    The same side of the argument, sure, but SP3 is and has been narrowly focused on the Hugos, while RP is just part of Vox’s larger Kulturkampf, as you can see from his blog posts – which are worth reading, if only for the schadenfreude he derives from making his enemies look like idiots.

  13. Quartermaster
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 10:06 am

    Scalzi is just a preening idiot with a wildly overinflated view of himself. I encountered one of his books a while back and quit at the end of the first chapter. I’ve seen elementary school tykes write better.

  14. joethefatman
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 10:20 am

    You should have mail.

  15. Finrod Felagund
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

    Apparently today (May 2) is World Naked Gardening Day: — use that information at your own risk.

  16. JeffWeimer
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

    His stuff was alright, OMW was a good (near) first effort, and showed promise. but he hasn’t lived up to it, seemingly preferring to ride his fame and connections.

    It seems to me that he went downhill after he was invited to the cool kid’s table (SFWA Presidency) and he’s essentially pulling the ladder up behind him.

  17. Mike G.
    May 2nd, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

    Dude!! Really!?! You should have denounced yourself for that one.

  18. Warren Hall
    May 3rd, 2015 @ 12:33 pm
  19. Warren Hall
    May 3rd, 2015 @ 12:51 pm