Brasyl – Take Two

Finally! It took me two weeks, in fits and starts, to read Brasyl, and then another two weeks to digest it. I have to admit, for a while I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But I couldn’t invoke the 150 page rule because I liked the first 150 pages. In fact, I […]

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Brasyl – Take one

First, a confession: I’m only halfway through Brasyl, by Ian McDonald. It’s a dense, detailed, demanding story that’s impossible to read quickly, but I’m glad to spend the time for this book. After fighting my way through the Old Man’s War series, it’s such a relief to read something that’s consistently well-written. Though I don’t […]

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Re: The Last Colony

The Last Colony reads like it was written by the same John Scalzi who writes his blog, which is relaxed, humorous, and entertaining. In Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, the prose tends to be stiff, the humor forced, and the story begins only after chapters and chapters of exposition, and is constantly brought […]

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Re: The Cambist and Lord Iron

Olaf Neddelson is a humble cambist, a money changer, whose life is changed when the notorious Lord Iron comes to his exchange window. Lord Iron demands that he exchange convertible guilders from the Independent Protectorate of Analdi-Wat for pounds sterling. If Olaf fails to do so within 24 hours, his license could be reviewed under […]

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Re: Dark Integers

I was really looking forward to “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan. After all, one character says: Dark matter, dark energy . . . dark integers. They’re all around us, but we don’t usually see them, because they don’t quite play by the rules. How cool is that? I really like the parts where it plays […]

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Re: Glory

An ingot of metallic hydrogen… Whoa, wait a second. An ingot. Of metallic hydrogen. Okay, I see what kind of story “Glory,” by Greg Egan is going to be. Old school, hard core, science fiction. That hydrogen gets put through some outrageous changes, which are mind-bending beyond the point of disbelief all the way back […]

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Re: Finisterra

In the world of Sky, island-sized living zaratanes float through the upper layers of the atmosphere. A zaratán is so big, whole towns live on their backs and go unnoticed. So naturally, people fly to get about, in balloons or anemopters or starships lurking in orbit. It seems like just the place for an ambitious […]

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Re: Last Contact

In the classic mode of Big Idea impacting little people, “Last Contact,” by Stephen Baxter opens with two women in a garden talking about the end of the universe. The mother, Maureen, tends to go on a bit about her garden, but speaking as one who tends to go on a bit about her own […]

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Re: A Small Room In Koboldtown

I have to say I’m finding the Hugo-nominated shorts disappointing so far. Another slight tale, “A Small Room in Koboldtown,” by Michael Swanwick, is set in your basic tough-guy, mixed ethnicity neighborhood, where the ethnicities are mythical creatures. The characters draw on multiple traditions, but the overall tone feels somewhere between Chicago, New Orleans, and […]

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Re: Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?

Set in the same universe of Learning the World, where stars are surrounded by green habitats, “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?,” by Ken McLeod starts out looking like a romp across the stars. The narrator sleeps with the wrong woman, and rather than work for the next 257 years to pay off his fine, he […]

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