The Other McCain

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

The Spring Break Book Post

Posted on | April 25, 2021 | No Comments

— by Wombat-socho

Tax season ended for me on April 14; this was the first time since I started working for H&R Block that I haven’t worked April 15, but to be honest, this season has been enough of a pain in the ass for me that I didn’t mind knocking off a day early…well, a month and a day early, since the season was extended to May 17, but my contract ended on April 16 and I was in no mood to volunteer to work the extended season. Already done my part to keep the Las Vegas hotels afloat this year, thank you very much. Anyhow, before I pitch into the book reviews, a couple of links of interest to folks interested in SF and/or popular culture.
First, Nick Monroe does a thorough demolition of an idiot who blames the poor reception of the disastrous Star Wars sequels on Gamergate, Donald Trump, Q, white supremacy and God knows what all. Long but well worth reading, because this Rewriting Ripley is hardly unique – as those of us who were with the Sad Puppies a few years back can attest.
Secondly, Vox Day’s Arkhaven Comics has launched an alternative to Webtoons, Arktoons. The site aims to be competition not only to Webtoons but to the dying mainstream comics companies, who it certainly has beat on not only quantity of content but quality.
Thirdly, after neglecting the poor thing for far too long, I am updating Wombat’s Bookshelf, which is just what it says on the label: an index to the book reviews I’ve done here. I’ve gotten caught up through the end of 2019, and I should have 2020 and 2021 done by this evening. I invite you to take a look and see if there’s anything you missed; the site includes helpful links not just to the posts but to Amazon for the books reviewed. 
Finally, I don’t remember often enough to beat the drum for the National Fantasy Fan Federation, now celebrating its 80th year. In addition to the monthly newsletter, the N3F also publishes eight zines covering just about every aspect of geek culture, with a ton of reviews. Public (non-voting) memberships are free, voting memberships start at $6/year, and all publications come to your email box in PDF format regardless of your membership level. (Disclaimer: I am the treasurer & membership/recruitment-wallah.)
Silicon Valley delenda est.

Probably the best thing I’ve read in the last month or so is the H. Beam Piper Megapack, which includes just about all the SF Piper ever published (except, oddly enough, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen) plus two non-SF novels, Rebel Raider and Murder In The Gunroom. Now, if you have the Ace/Baen anthologies and novels from the 1980s, you already have most of what’s in this book, but for 99 cents it’s still a great deal – and a lot more portable than the paperbacks. 

I was not nearly so impressed with Marko Kloos’ Aftershocks, the first in a new series from him. We meet the protagonist as he’s being released from a POW camp, having been on the losing end of an interplanetary war – which somebody seems to want to restart. Regardless of George R.R. Martin’s opinion, this is not nearly as good as Kloos’ Frontlines series; there was nothing about it that made me interested in looking at the sequels, whether or not they’re free through Kindle Unlimited. Now, Orders Of Battle, on the other hand, that’ll be worth the $6 it’ll cost to keep it. The seventh novel in the aforementioned Frontlines series, this tale of a reconnaissance in force against the former colony planet Willoughby, held by the alien Lankies since the beginning of the war, grabs you and drags you in – perhaps because you know the protagonist (and his wife) very well after six books, and perhaps because Kloos is writing a straightforward space opera instead of farting around with skulduggery and secret plots. 

That’s something Peter Nealen does a lot better, quite frankly. Took me a while to finish up Thunder Run, which is the sixth in his Maelstrom Rising series, but when I did, it delivered. The story is still with the Triarii Grex Luporum teams in Europe, where the EDC is still trying to put the screws to Poland and the other Eastern European nations who are tired of their supranational shit. Things aren’t going well for the Poles and their fellow rebels, but the EDC isn’t having things all their own way, either. Nealen does a good job of covering everything from tactical combat up to and including the Big Picture, both military and political. I am looking forward to the next book, Area Denial, which is due out in September. 

Some of you may remember Moe Lane from his previous life as a political blogger; he’s given that up to blog about books, music, movies, and role-playing games, and is also writing books, like the most excellent Frozen Dreams, Set in a post-apocalyptic Baja California, it’s a fantasy that starts with the premise that magic has returned with rather brutal effects on the America we know and love. Officially, there’s no magic or magicians in New California’s Cin City, but unofficially, the cleaning ladies and stagehands know more than they’ll say about the subject, and that’s a good thing for Shamus Tom Vargas, who’s been Called to Clear a murder case. If you ever wondered what a mashup of noir detective film and urban fantasy was like, well, here’s your chance to find out. An excellent deal at $2.99.

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